You can live in a home designed by Armani, Fendi or MissoniShare
Coco Chanel once famously said, “Fashion is architecture.”
But in 2016, the reverse rings true.
Top houses are going beyond clothes, bags, jewelry and beauty to design haute home goods and luxury real estate. Why just wear a Giorgio Armani suit when you could also lounge on an Armani sofa in an Armani hotel or residence — essentially living inside the label?
(And broadcasting your good taste to anyone who crosses your doorstep?)
Armani and Versace were both pioneers of such fashion-branded lifestyle projects — the former with its Armani/Casa collection in 2000 and subsequent hotel-residence in Dubai’s Burj Khalifa (the world’s tallest building) and the latter with its 72-condo Palazzo Versace (which debuted in 2000 on Australia’s Gold Coast, with a new spinoff in Dubai) and a vibrant housewares line with German porcelain-maker Rosenthal.
But the trend is now suddenly taking off in the States.
The glamorous Baccarat Hotel & Residences is already dazzling New York, while four fashion-branded projects are about to make a splash in South Florida.
“I cannot make another house for myself,” Karl Lagerfeld, creative director of Chanel and Fendi, exclusively tells Alexa. “So for me, it is interesting to make a kind of modern, over-scaled project.”
Developer Jules Trump (no relation to Donald) hired the 83-year-old fashion genius to imagine the lobbies at the Estates at Acqualina, in Sunny Isles Beach, Fla., just north of Miami. “Karl’s originality really caught our eye,” says Trump.
“He uses materials no one has had the courage to use in the past. He has a unique ability to combine the old and the new in innovative ways that transform a space.”
Construction has just begun on the 265 white-box residences here, priced between $3.9 million and $9 million and slated to go on the market in 2020.
Down the road, the Residences by Armani/Casa will feature common areas and lobbies by that trailblazing brand. “I saw the [Armani] hotel in Dubai and stayed at their hotel in Milan, and thought it was a fantastic design and an iconic brand,” explains Dezer Development head Gil Dezer, who is building the Sunny Isles Beach project.
The 308 homes, ranging from 1,800 to 5,000 square feet (and $2 million to $15 million), will debut in two and a half years “decorator ready,” with a $25,000 credit for the Armani/Casa retail store. “I now have hundreds of other brands approaching me to do this, but not all come with the same cachet as Armani,” Dezer says.
Indeed, “a fashion designer has a very identifiable style that can translate to a global audience,” says Cary Leitzes, founder of the creative-partnership agency Leitzes & Co. and the matchmaker between Trump and Lagerfeld. “So it makes sense that developers would partner with designers to help their buildings stand out.”
Nadia Meratla, SVP of design & development at Douglas Elliman Development Marketing, adds that it’s not a huge leap from tailoring clothing to tailoring a home. “Big fashion brands are so elastic,” she says. “They’re not going to stop at jewelry and cosmetics. If they put their name on a tangible, high-value asset like real estate, that’s making a statement.”
That statement has clearly been embraced in Miami, where a vivid art and food scene has been luring jet-setters on the hunt for hard assets with some serious style. Fendi Casa curated the interiors for the Fendi Château Residences, in nearby Surfside; Missoni is lending its iconic zigzags to Missoni Baia, its first branded residences.
he 146 homes at that Miami property won’t be ready until 2019, but are already selling off of plans for about $2 million to $4 million, with square footage ranging from 2,400 to 3,600. The interiors of the Asymptote Architecture-designed building are officially credited to New York’s Paris Forino, but “the Missonis are completely woven in,” says Alicia Cervera, head of sales for the luxury address.
Branded buildings are also hitting the more conservative New York market. Starwood Capital Group and Tribeca Associates opened the first Baccarat Hotel & Residences in 2015, directly across from the Museum of Modern Art.
“You’re always thinking how to take a property from commodity to exceptional, which people sometimes do with views, or square footage, or amenities, or brand names,” says Kemper Hyers, SVP of design for Starwood Capital Group.
“With Baccarat we are future-proofed, because we have all of that, plus the authenticity of a 250-year-old heritage brand.” Its residences are 97 percent sold, with prices for the two remaining units at just under $5.5 million (for a two-bedroom) and $23.8 million (for a 47th-floor-through four-bedroom).
Each of the 59 condos comes with a Baccarat chandelier in the foyer, but buyers often also stock up at the brand’s nearby boutique on Madison Avenue. “When we get sales at the residences, we often see a spike in traffic at the hotel and at the store,” notes Hyers.
Fashion houses that aren’t yet ready to brave the capital-heavy real estate game are still pushing themselves into consumers’ homes.
Dior, House of Holland and Ted Baker have debuted home lines, while Bottega Veneta has launched dedicated lifestyle boutiques.
Others are partnering with furniture companies on limited-edition pieces — as Alexander Wang has with Poltrona Frau, and Dolce & Gabbana with its vivacious Smeg refrigerator — and full or capsule lines (see: Raf Simons with Kvadrat, Jean Paul Gaultier for Lelièvre, and G-Star RAW and Vitra).
In fact, 30 fashion brands showed at March’s Milan Furniture Fair in 2015, answering a demand for home items that act as shorthand for discerning taste and wild success.
“In retail, you own someone for 20 minutes.
In a hotel, you own someone for 24 hours, which is amazing for the product brand. In a residence, you own them for as long as they live there, which is an incredible opportunity,” says Starwood Capital’s Hyers.
And if a fashion brand can’t offer loyal customers a permanent address, at least it can pull out a chair for them when they get home.