Luxury magazine: September 2018

The fashion issue: featuring this season’s colourful staples; modestwear gets its first major exhibition; inside Karl Lagerfeld’s Hamburg home; and Jonathan Koon, the most interesting man you’ve never heard of

‘We need diversity within diversity, or any change will start to feel hollow’

A highlight of my summer came when I found myself sitting on the shores of Lake Como, watching in wonderment as Dolce & Gabbana’s latest Alta Moda presentation unfolded in Tremezzina’s Teresio Olivelli botanical park. The sun was setting as the models descended from a grand double staircase and wove their way through an expectant Dolce & Gabbana-clad audience.
The outfits were a fantastical ode to Lake Como, as well as the literary works of Italian author Alessandro Manzoni, whom Stefano Gabbana refers to as “our Shakespeare”. The Alta Moda presentation is part of a four-day extravaganza set in some of the country’s most picturesque surroundings, where top clients and a handful of international press converge to witness the Italian design duo’s decidedly Italian version of haute couture. The clothes were undeniably beautiful – from the expansive, 18th-century-inspired gowns to the slim-fitting frock suits and feather-trimmed kaftans – but another thing that stood out about the show was the diverse representation of womanhood that Dolce and Gabbana chose to send down the runway.
On the one hand, you had the 70-year-old Maye Musk, who apart from being the mother of Elon, elegantly proves that beauty doesn’t have an age limit. On the other hand, you had a radiant Halima Aden modelling a voluminous tiger-print kaftan and matching headwrap, while plus-size model of the moment Ashley Graham stepped out in all-black. Socialites shared space with members of the British aristocracy, clients were transformed into models, and all skin shades were celebrated.
The main event was Naomi Campbell, who sashayed around the park looking almost exactly as she did in her 1990s heyday, a knowing smile playing on her lips. She was joined by Eva Herzigová, who is now 45, and Helena Christensen, who is nudging 50.
The fashion industry has often come under fire for promoting very narrow ideals of beauty – for a long time, unless you were young, tall, incredibly slender and white, you were unlikely to find much success as a model. Dolce & Gabbana’s Alta Moda runway was a refreshing sign that the paradigm has shifted, even if just slightly. As someone whose shape has always been more on the Ashley Graham than the Ashley Olsen end of the scale, I know that seeing a person that you can relate to, on a runway or on the cover of a magazine, can be incredibly powerful.
This changing mindset is one reason that Niko, the model whom we were lucky enough to work with for this month’s fashion shoot, is enjoying such success. The stunning British-Sudanese model is on a dizzying ascent, and is working with some of the best photographers in the world, including Juergen Teller, Tim Walker, Harley Weir, Rankin and even David Sims. Niko has seen the industry evolve dramatically over the last few years, she says.
What’s important is that things don’t become tokenistic. Halima Aden cannot be the only famous hijabi model; Ashley Graham cannot be the only prominent plus-size model; and Maye Musk cannot be the only grey-haired model. We need diversity within that diversity, or any change will start to feel hollow.

* Selina Denman, editor

Tiffany, recut

Tiffany & Co’s chief executive, Alessandro Bogliolo, tells Selina Denman why the business of love is blooming

Elle Fanning, clad in a hoodie and jeans, and sipping on a takeaway coffee, approaches the Tiffany & Co flagship on Fifth Avenue and peers into a window. The melodious opening lines of Moon River, the song made famous by the Audrey Hepburn classic Breakfast at Tiffany’s, play in the background. And then rapper A$ap Ferg interjects with an “I ain’t window shopping today”, and everything goes haywire. Fanning is transported into a “Tiffany world”, where she shows off her hip-hop moves amid New York taxicabs, buildings, bridges and residents that are all clad in the brand’s trademark shade of robin-egg blue.
Tiffany & Co’s spring campaign, Believe in Dreams, is a stroke of marketing genius. Fanning: so young, so relevant, so gloriously casual. A$ap Ferg’s rhymes: so far from what you might expect from this classic, history-laden 181-year-old brand. The message: this is Tiffany, recut.  

The campaign spotlights Tiffany & Co’s latest collection, Paper Flowers, which launched in the Middle East this month. It is, notably, the first to be created by the brand’s new artistic director, Reed Krakoff, the man credited with transforming Coach into a luxury powerhouse, whose expertise, interestingly, lies in fashion rather than fine jewels. His debut collection for Tiffany is “about stripping away all of the rules associated with fine jewellery”, he says. Krakoff started with the idea of flower petals cut from paper and took it from there.
The result is a masterful exercise in subtlety. There are stunningly simple three-petalled flowers seemingly held together by a barely-there central pin; a delicate firefly with a yellow diamond for a body and wings fluttering with diamonds; the odd flash of blue, courtesy of eye-catching tanzanite; and a necklace of mixed-cut diamonds that looks like a flowery wreath. The entire collection is crafted from platinum, and is incredibly ambitious in its scope. It extends from simple everyday pieces that retail for about £2,300 (Dh10,848) through to a high-jewellery bib necklace featuring 68 carats of diamonds, which is worth more than a million pounds.  
Paper Flowers is a nod to Tiffany’s know-how, particularly when it comes to diamonds and platinum, but also a symbol of its plans for the future, Alessandro Bogliolo, the company’s chief executive, explains when I meet him at the collection’s London launch.

Bogliolo joined the brand in October 2017 and was also, arguably, something of a left-field choice. He is an industry veteran (although he admits to hating the term), having spent 16 years at Bulgari, but his more recent roles were at Sephora and Diesel, a brand that is as famed for its irreverence as Tiffany & Co is for its polished consistency. “In the last few years, Tiffany & Co has behaved in a very safe way – a bit conservative,” he admits. “The DNA of the brand is, for sure, understated, obsessed with good taste, and more about balance and equilibrium than excess, but it has never been a conservative brand.
“Imagine Charles Lewis Tiffany, in 1837, going from New York to Paris to buy the French crown jewels and all the jewels that the French aristocracy were selling off at the time. And then bringing them to New York, dismantling them and making new pieces. Think about taking diamond rings which, at the time, were all set in a bezel, and putting in a six-prong setting. That was revolutionary. Think about having [Jean] Schlumberger as a house designer; Elsa Peretti in the 1970s or Andy Warhol, who painted Christmas cards for Tiffany. Andy Warhol? Conservative?”
Bogliolo is on a mission to bring some of that boldness back. And so far, it seems to be working. In 2017, sales amounted to nearly US$4.2 billion (Dh15.4 bn), up 4 per cent year-on-year. In the first quarter of 2018, however, sales rose 15 per cent compared to the previous year, hitting $1bn.
The key to this success could be Bogliolo’s understanding of the evolving nature of luxury. “Luxury had a very Eurocentric definition; it said that luxury is for the happy few, for royalty, or for very special occasions, at a very high price and based on exclusivity. This is the traditional paradigm,” he says.
“But when you look at the younger generation, it is not about buying jewellery to put in a safe; and it is not so much about buying jewellery to impress you, but rather to please myself. If you ask me what luxury is, in reality, it is something extraordinary that has to give you joy and pleasure; it is something very intimate,” Bogliolo suggests.
This is a decidedly American ideal, where definitions of luxury are more casual and relaxed, and less tied into age-old hierarchies and class systems. And while Tiffany & Co may be evolving, it is proudly connected to its New York roots. That Big Apple mentality is integral to the way that it artfully melds the old with the new and the poetic with the industrial – A$ap Ferg rapping over Moon River is the perfect metaphor for this. “New York has this vitality, energy and wit – what is particularly typically of New York is this wit – and Reed Krakoff has it 100 per cent,” says Bogliolo.

“You see it in the fact that you have this beautiful million-dollar necklace, but its inspiration is a worthless paper flower. That is very much New York. In this city, you can have the best of everything – the best art, the best culture, the best clothing, the best food, the best whatever; but at the same time, it is not pretentious,” he explains.
In America, after all, “you can wear your 10-carat diamond to go to Whole Foods supermarket and you know what, no one will pay attention to you. It’s purely for your own pleasure,” Bogliolo points out.
This casualisation of diamonds also extends to engagement rings, of which Tiffany & Co has long been the master. A lesser man than Bogliolo might be concerned that across the western world, the number of marriages is in decline. In the United States in 2017, 45.2 per cent of people over the age of 18 were single, compared to just 28 per cent in 1970, according to the US Census. But while marriage might be on the decline, love is not, he says – and consequently, neither are diamond rings.
“The diamond ring is not limited any more to engagement. It has gone back to the original reason why the diamond ring exists – because mankind has always been attracted by gemstones and the diamond is the hardest of stones, so it represents the eternity of your love or union. In recent centuries, the diamond ring has become synonymous with engagement and marriage. But in reality, love is more than that. People nowadays still have this natural attraction to the diamond for its symbolic value – whether it is for a wedding, for an engagement, but also after a wedding, or without a wedding.
“People ask me if I am worried because the rate of weddings is decreasing; but the number of weddings is not the right KPI [key performance indicator] for diamond rings. The right KPI for diamond rings is how much people love each other and how many people love each other. And as the population is growing, the business of love is growing.” 

Launch pad: autumn's boldest bags

Michael Kors

The designer has given the classic frame bag a makeover. It now features a dainty strap and enormous retro flowers. Grandma would’ve approved; Dh1,278

Christian Dior

The Lady Dior bag has been totally reimagined with cross-hatched beadwork. Bristling with colour, the stripes frame the central love heart. Peace out; Dh20,500

Etro

Etro’s journey through global chic continues with the patterns of Anatolian carpets. With stitched felt and a fringed strap, the bag already feels vintage; Dh8,571

Valentino

Valentino’s striking new chevron-striped bag is easy to spot across a room. Exquisitely quilted with metal studs, the Candy Stud is definitely a case of the bold and the beautiful; Dh10,140

Dolce & Gabbana

The bag features a miniature theatre starring the designers, along with an assortment of pets. Crazy, kitsch and charming; Dh25,050

A classic case of creativity by Loewe

Highlighting its love of all things innovative, Spanish brand Loewe unveiled a limited-edition set of books during the ready-to-wear shows in Paris, each with a sleeve featuring images by American fashion photographer Steven Meisel. The books were left on every seat during the show for guests to take home, while the entire set, which is presented in a custom-designed box, went on sale last month for Dh2,000.
Since its inception in 1846, the luxury fashion house has nurtured craft as much as fashion – Loewe began as a craft collective and has always placed high value on the handwork of the artisan. Known for the quality of its materials (its high-grade leather, in particular) and for its impeccable finish, the brand established the Loewe Foundation in 1988, to support creativity, education and heritage in poetry, dance, craft and the arts. In 2016, creative director Jonathan Anderson set up the Loewe Craft Prize, an annual event for craftspeople across the world, while the Poetry Prize is awarded to Spanish bards.
Considering this left-field slant, it is not unexpected that the clothing and accessories label should release a box set of classic tales, with titles chosen by Anderson himself. The stories include Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë, Dracula by Bram Stoker, The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert, Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, and Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes.

Partly bound in a textured, neutral-toned fabric, the books are wrapped in images that Meisel originally created for magazine fashion shoots, most notably for Vogue Italia. A long-time collaborator with Loewe, the photographer has shot all its recent campaigns, including some much-lauded beauty shots for spring/summer 2018. In a nice piece of symmetry, Meisel photographed the brand’s spring/summer 2017 campaign starring model and actress Amber Valletta, who incidentally appears on the cover of Madame Bovary from a campaign he shot back in 2006. He also captured British model Stella Tennant reading Don Quixote for the autumn/winter 2018 campaign.
The choice of using the work Meisel has done for Vogue Italia is telling. After all, why wouldn’t he create new images for the book covers? The answer probably has to do with his famed working relationship with Vogue Italia’s editor Franca Sozzani. He shot every one of her covers for more than 30 years, and it was Sozzani who pushed her protégé to be more and more daring. Sadly, she passed away in 2016, and perhaps by using these images, Loewe is paying its respects to one of the fashion industry’s great thinkers.
On the surface, the images have nothing to do with the story inside each book, yet are tinged with narrative symbolism. For the book cover of Dracula, for example, model Karen Elson sits on a sofa in a setting that is at once domestic and faintly creepy. The Heart of Darkness cover features a shot from the 2010 campaign Wild is the Wind, with models dressed in rags living in a forest. For Don Quixote – whose adventures would not be complete without his stead Rocinante – model Carolyn Murphy stands next to a horse wearing a disturbing plastic mask.

Throwing convention on its head, one image is printed sideways, while much like Heathcliff and Catherine’s tumultous relationship, the cover image of Brontë’s tale (a 2005 Meisel baroque portrait) is upside down.
Sarah Maisey

Hot property: Villa Jako, Blankenese, Hamburg, Germany

If there’s one thing Karl Lagerfeld can never be accused of, it’s idleness. The German fashion designer not only creates multiple seasonal collections for the houses of Chanel and Fendi each year, but also oversees his eponymous brand, always photographs his own campaigns and creates one-off red-carpet gowns for his celebrity muses.
It is little wonder, then, that Lagerfeld gave up his beloved Villa Jako, which is perched on the banks of the River Elbe and was his home for much of the 1990s. As he told his estate agent at Engel & Völkers: “It’s impossible to live on the Elbe. You spend all your time looking out at the river. You end up becoming lazy.”

Sounds about perfect.  
The hilltop residence, located in Hamburg’s affluent Blankenese district, is inspired by neo-classical Roman architecture. This is evident in a front portico manned by multiple columns, and the grand dimensions and striking symmetry of the heavy stones that dominate the building’s façade. The entrance is through an archway reminiscent of Paris’s Arc de Triomphe. 
The 5,000-square-foot villa is set on 2.9 acres of lush greenery, with high-growing hedges and dense foliage. The lower level features a central atrium with an impluvium, a sunken Roman water pool, which leads to a grand living room that spans the length of the property. The first floor has a gallery, library and arched glass doorways with a landscaped terrace overlooking the placid waters. The three en-suite bedrooms on this level can be reached by walking along a hallway lined with bookshelves and velvet drapes, and each bedroom features walk-in dressing rooms. The last level has four additional bedrooms and three bathrooms.  

The property was originally built in the 1920s by architect Walter Baedeker for shipping magnate Herrmann Witte, and was also home to lawyer Alfred Schüler, who named it Villa Schüler. Lagerfeld changed the name to Villa Jako, after his former partner Jacques de Bascher, when he bought the property in 1991. The designer enlisted famed art conservator Renate Kant and French decorator Andrée Putma to refurbish the interior. The home is now registered on Germany’s National Heritage list. 

The living area retains several elements from Lagerfeld’s time, including the oak and marble flooring, six-metre-high coffered ceilings lined with gold leaf, and the ornate brocade fabrics, patterned rugs and wall hangings that he installed to offset the stern stone exterior.  
Lagerfeld also shot the advertising campaign for his Lagerfeld Jako fragrance on the house’s columned terrace, and referenced the property in his book Ein Deutsches Haus (A German House), where he alludes, somewhat wistfully, to its too-tranquil surrounds.
Villa Jako is on the market through Engel & Volkers for €10 million (Dh42 million).
Panna Munyal

A modest affair

The Contemporary Muslim Fashions exhibition being held in San Francisco from September proves that the modestwear movement is more than a passing trend, says Sarah Maisey

Given that almost a quarter of the world’s population – about 1.8 billion people – identify as Muslim, it is notable that no major exhibition has looked at the influence that such a huge market has had on the fashion industry. Until now, that is.
The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (FAMSF, which consists of two bodies, de Young and the Legion of Honour, and is one of the most visited arts institutions in the United States) is set to host a show entitled Contemporary Muslim Fashions, from September 22 until January 6. The exhibition at the de Young Museum promises to look at how Muslim women – covered or not – are becoming a driving force in the fashion community.
Anyone living in this part of the world will already be conversant in the subtle nuances of modest dressing, from the seemingly endless ways to wear a shayla, to the act of layering a subtle polo neck under a dress to totally transform an outfit. For others, though, this show will offer welcome insight into an arena that is all too often misunderstood. There are still strong preconceptions that modest dressing equates solely to shapeless black.

Such misconceptions have always existed; however, history shows us that there has long been a cross-pollination between eastern and western styles of dressing. With trading connections between the Middle East and the rest of the world stretching back centuries, Islamic dress codes have travelled too – while Spain was under Islamic rule between AD 711 and AD 1492, many women took to wearing veils regardless of their religious slant. Yves Saint Laurent, the godfather of Parisian fashion who grew up in Algeria, often used Islamic modes of dress as inspiration, in particular for his 1976 Rive Gauche advertising campaign, which featured women in intricately wrapped headscarves.
Max Hollein, the former director of FAMSF who joined the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York last month, was the man responsible for bringing the show to life. “Contemporary Muslim Fashions is an overdue, much-needed exploration of a multifaceted topic as yet largely unexplored by museums,” he points out. “The Muslim fashion scene is extremely vibrant and influential, with some of the most stunning works I’ve recently seen; it seemed like a blatant omission that this topic had yet to be explored by a major institution. When I took over as director of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco with exhibition curators Jill D’Alessandro and Laura Camerlengo, we decided that this was the time to correct the omission.”
Given the collective spending power of the Islamic population, omission is exactly the right word. The State of the Global Islamic Economy Report by Thomson Reuters and DinarStandard estimates that Muslim spend on clothing amounted to US$254 billion (Dh933.01bn) in 2016, and is forecast to reach $373bn by 2022. It also predicts that as the global population expands, millennials will be the engine of change across the retail economy. By 2027, millennials will be a 2.8-billion-strong core consumer force, and by 2030, 29 per cent of the global young population (people between the ages of 15 and 29) is projected to be Muslim. In the United Kingdom, which has a Muslim population of 2.7 million, the Muslim Council of Britain has put the community’s spending power at £20.5bn (Dh96.85bn) a year. Fashion brands that ignore these numbers do so at their peril, which is why many have jumped into the fray.
Dolce & Gabbana launched an abaya collection in 2015, while Japanese brand Uniqlo began its tie-up with British-Japanese Muslim designer Hana Tajima in 2016, launching the Uniqlo x Hana Tajima line, which consists of loose-fitting flowing casual wear crafted from soft linens and cottons. Nike released the Nike Pro Hijab late last year, a few months after Yeezy and Max Mara put hijab-wearing model Halima Aden on their runways.

Even the likes of Dominican couturier Oscar de la Renta and Filipino-American designer Monique Lhuillier have created dedicated Ramadan collections. Meanwhile, devotees of YouTube will already be familiar with Russian-Algerian-Turkish influencer NabiilaBee, whose hijab tutorials have garnered millions of views.
Modest clothing has been seen on international runways with increasing regularity in the past few seasons, embraced by growing numbers of customers, who are either driven by their religious beliefs, or the simple desire to find an alternative to tight, restrictive, revealing clothing. Another sign that modesty is filtering through came last year, when Ayana Ife, a Muslim fashion designer, made it to the finals of TV show Project Runway. While some may still be happy to dismiss modest dressing as a niche market, there is a global appetite for it.
With such a large topic to cover, Contemporary Muslim Fashions is split into various sections, mainly governed by geography, and places a spotlight on garments and styles from around the world. The main galleries focus on the Middle East, including the UAE, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, which is represented by labels such as Mashael, a Saudi brand that plays with surface texture and shifting scale on what otherwise seem like deceptively simple cuts. The UAE is represented by Bouguessa, whose minimalist cuts have drawn a large and devoted following, and The Modist, the online portal dedicated to bringing high-fashion modestwear to discerning customers.
Another section is dedicated to South East Asia, an enormous modestwear market because it is home to such a large Islamic population. Malaysian designer Haslinda Rahim’s label Blancheur, for example, specialises in high-end modestwear that includes sharply cut trouser suits and dramatically tailored jackets that segue into tops.

Indonesia, meanwhile, has about 225 million Muslims (about 88 per cent of the country’s population). Indonesian designer Itang Yunasz blends modern shapes with traditional techniques, including the highly distinctive indigo ikat weaving of Timor.
Another name featuring in the exhibition is Dian Pelangi, an Indonesian designer and digital influencer who was named by the Business of Fashion as one of the top 500 people shaping fashion, aided no doubt by her 4.8 million Instagram followers and 14 stores. Pelangi regularly shows at Jakarta Fashion Week, and interweaves sharp cuts with traditional regional textile techniques, such as hand-drawn batik and tie-dye. Pelangi is also a keen documenter of Muslim street style and has published a book on the topic.
Many of the labels included in the exhibition deal with high-end design, but street style is also represented, most notably Sarah Elenany from London, who started her line to provide practical, wearable modest clothes for active, sporty women. In 2015, Elenany made her design for a sport hijab hoody available for free download, for anyone to make. Also from the UK is Rebecca Kellett, whose work brings a costume-like feel to clothing, with sculptural necklines and exaggerated shapes. She was nominated for the Best Costume Design Award in 2015 by the International Fashion Film Awards.
With such a expansive area to cover, Hollein skilfully drew on the museum’s own track record to introduce Islamic fashion to a new audience. “FAMSF is well positioned to tell this story; it has a long history of creating critically acclaimed fashion exhibitions, including Oscar de la Renta, Jean Paul Gaultier, Balenciaga and Spain, and Yves Saint Laurent.”

Ultimately, fashion is and always will be subjective – one woman’s Manolos are another woman’s menace – and not every designer selected for this show will resonate with an American viewer. That aside, the fact that this exhibition is taking place at all is a real cause for celebration. Whether one sees modest dressing as a religious requirement or just a personal preference, the important point is that, today, women have a multitude of choices.
“Museums are places where you can have complex cultural discussions in non-polemical ways, and Contemporary Muslim Fashions is a unique platform to engage with issues that are extremely relevant to today’s audiences,” Hollein concludes.

18K white gold and diamond bracelet, Dh120,380, Gemco on Farfetch

18K white gold and diamond bracelet, Dh120,380, Gemco on Farfetch

Crystal Haze emerald and diamond ring, Dh52,340, Stephen Webster on Farfetch

Crystal Haze emerald and diamond ring, Dh52,340, Stephen Webster on Farfetch

18K yellow gold Tiffany City HardWear wrap bracelet, Dh29,800, Tiffany & Co on Farfetch

18K yellow gold Tiffany City HardWear wrap bracelet, Dh29,800, Tiffany & Co on Farfetch

18K gold, sterling silver, diamond and pearl earrings, Dh51,800, Amrapali on Net-a-Porter

18K gold, sterling silver, diamond and pearl earrings, Dh51,800, Amrapali on Net-a-Porter

Possession 34mm 18K rose gold, alligator and diamond watch, Dh59,770, Piaget on Net-a-Porter

Possession 34mm 18K rose gold, alligator and diamond watch, Dh59,770, Piaget on Net-a-Porter

Smart spend: gems at the click of a button

Internet shopping may have become second nature for many of us, but Sarah Maisey asks if you would spend hundreds of thousands of dirhams to acquire a piece of jewellery online

In the old days, if a woman wanted to buy something (a handbag, perhaps, or a beautiful dress), she had to visit a shop. If she was a regular or preferred customer, the store might call her when something specific came in and hold it until she arrived. Important (read: big-spending) customers, meanwhile, might have choice items sent to their homes or workplaces, to peruse at their leisure.
These days, things happen a little differently, thanks in part to the foresight of former fashion journalist Natalie Massenet. Seeing the potential of the then fairly misunderstood internet, in 2000, she launched Net-a-Porter, the first luxury shopping site. The rest, as they say, is history.
Fast-forward 17 years, and online shopping is now an accepted norm – one employed by an estimated 1.66 billion people last year. According to Bain & Company’s global luxury study, luxury goods alone accounted for US$1.2 trillion (Dh4.41tn) of sales, with shoes, bags and jewellery listed as the areas of fastest growth. Catering to that demand is big business, and a plethora of new companies have stepped into the fray, including Farfetch in 2007 and Moda Operandi in 2010. These portals offer fabulous clothes, seemingly impossible-to-get shoes and impeccable service, all via the internet.
And now, the e-luxury offering has been dialled up a couple of notches, with news that both Net-a-Porter and Farfetch have launched dedicated fine-jewellery sections. This means that customers can browse for and buy an 18K gold Talisman necklace by De Beers (Dh66,655 on Farfetch) or a Yeprem diamond necklace (Dh123,775 on Net-a-Porter) as easily as a pair of shoes or new handbag. With a few clicks of a mouse, these precious pieces can be purchased and, just as with the shoes or bag, will be hand-delivered to your doorstep.

We are already au fait with the sheer convenience that online luxury shopping offers – of not having to go out when it’s too hot, of not being subject to shop opening hours and, most importantly, of being able to try things on in peace and quiet at home. We are no longer at the mercy of unflattering shop lights, cruel mirrors or overzealous salespeople bothering us, and are free to experiment with how to wear something that works with the rest of our wardrobe. And while some may baulk at the thought of spending hundreds of thousands of dirhams via an online transaction, there is a growing segment of the market that is more than comfortable with this new way of acquiring precious jewels. 
For those unfamiliar with the term, fine jewellery denotes items made from metals such as gold, silver and platinum, and precious or semi-precious stones.

Made in limited quantities, these often sell for tens of thousands of dirhams or more, but are not to be confused with high jewellery, which are one-off items that can be worth millions. Fashion jewellery, meanwhile, is trend-driven and changes from season to season. Made from base metals, such as brass and copper, it is akin to what used to be called costume jewellery. In addition, there is an entirely new category, called demi-fine, which still uses gold and silver, but of a lower grade (14K gold, not 18K, for example). Demi-fine pieces are cheaper to produce and thus cheaper to buy.
While Net-a-Porter may have been the first to coax Chanel to put its jewellery online in 2010, and Cartier last year (which incidentally led to the site’s largest single transaction, when it sold a Panthère de Cartier watch for Dh534,000), what is new is that these e-tailers now have sections dedicated to this segment. 

The opening up of the digital fine-jewellery market sees Farfetch offer pieces from De Beers, Chopard, Pomellato, David Yurman and Tiffany & Co, and watches from Girard-Perregaux, Tag Heuer, Ulysse Nardin and Zenith. It also has a vintage-jewellery section. Meanwhile, on Net-a-Porter, customers will find pieces by Cartier, Piaget, Pomellato, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Chopard and Tiffany & Co, with the most expensive piece (at the time of writing) being a white gold, diamond and emerald necklace by Amrapali, which costs a cool Dh617,240. Interestingly, as with other items on the sites, the jewellery comes with suggestions of what to pair it with.
“I thought if you were looking to buy a watch, you would go to a watch store, and while you would get great expertise, there would be no context,” says Alison Loehnis, president of Net-a-Porter. “There would be no: ‘Here is a great Cartier Tank, I see it dressed for evening, or with a sweater and jeans.’ The combination of customer demand and the take-up that we had seen in the category gave us an opportunity, so we put our foot on the gas.”
With 18 and 11 years of experience respectively (and keeping in mind that a year is a long time on the internet), Net-a-Porter and Farfetch have had ample time to fine-tune their business concepts and forge ironclad relationships. This has been rewarded with a continued number of customers who are confident that what they have paid for will be delivered. Trust is absolutely essential if customers are going to be tempted into making hefty jewellery purchases via their electronic devices. 
As Federico Marchetti, chief executive of Yoox Net-a-Porter, explained at the recent Condé Nast Luxury Conference in Lisbon: “Fine jewellery and watches are the perfect complement to high fashion. This explosion in fine jewellery and watches shows there’s no limit to what customers will buy online with us. And we are now getting a fascinating insight into who these hard luxury customers are and what they are prepared to buy.”

The arrival of fine jewellery at both sites is more than sheer coincidence. Having flagged since the global recession, jewellery sales are on their way up. This growth in purchases is being driven by the huge (and seemingly insatiable) spending power of Generations Y and Z, with China alone having 176.2 million shopping-mad 15- to 24-year-olds. Buying trends fit the pattern implied by the research of Harvard Business School professor Gerald Zaltman, who suggests that 95 per cent of all spending decisions are made in customers’ subconscious, meaning that it is our emotions and not our conscious mind that is controlling exactly how and why we shop.
Of all items, jewellery is perhaps the most emotionally charged. After all, it is worn right next to the skin. It is also loaded with meaning, linked as it is to relationships – through engagement and wedding rings, and even “push presents” (gifts given by a father to a new mother after she gives birth). It is a marker of financial independence, such as investing in gold, or a woman buying her first serious diamond, and is more likely to be handed down as a family heirloom, compared to clothing or bags. Aware that this makes for a complicated emotional journey, Net-a-Porter offers access to personal shoppers, trained by the Gemological Institute of America, to advise consumers on those big-ticket purchases, while return policies are offered as standard. 
While a string of diamonds will not be a spontaneous purchase for everyone, it is good to know that, should that time come, there are at least two online companies that can make the process a little bit easier.

My luxury life: Marwa Sayed

Marwa Sayed is the founder of homegrown womenswear label Three Fifty Nine. The Egyptian designer has been invited to show at London Fashion Week this month, after winning top honours at a contest organised by the Dubai Design & Fashion Council

If you could wake up anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would you be?
A Mediterranean island, such as Rhodes in Greece, which has a historical background, green hills, rich valleys and a picturesque row of beaches. The island is a unique blend of cosmopolitanism, tradition and pure nature, which really suits my personality.

You’re sitting down to the perfect meal. Where are you, who are you with and what are you eating?
I am in my home in Egypt, with my family. I’d definitely be having molokhia, which is a very traditional Egyptian green soup dish that is usually served with rice.

What is your definition of good style?
Anything that makes you feel comfortable and confident in your own body. When I design, I always keep these factors in mind as it’s very important to me that my clients feel confident in a Three Fifty Nine look. I also like to create unique styles that bring out a woman’s individuality, because good style should be as individual as the person wearing it. I try to design pieces that can be worn by women of different sizes and various body shapes. Every woman out there will surely find a piece in my collection that speaks to her, matches her style and makes her feel comfortable.

What’s the best piece of fashion advice you have received?
Stay true to yourself and your sense of style.

Where do you go to shop?
I prefer shopping online, as it is faster and more convenient. I am shopping on Yoox.com more and more often.

What is your favourite item in your wardrobe right now?
A vintage Fendi bag passed on from my mum.

If you could dress any woman in the world, who would it be?Queen Rania of Jordan, because she is such an inspiration to all women and humanity.

What does your dream home look like?
It’s an all-glass summer beach house with sunlight streaming through all day long.

What is your favourite destination in the world?
The Amalfi Coast in Italy. I went there a couple of years ago with a group of friends, and it was just breathtaking. You could never get bored of how beautiful the view from any cliff is, and how relaxing it is to just spend some time on the beach.

What is your next holiday destination?
Sri Lanka, exploring a few tea plantations.

What are your go-to beauty products?
Clinique face wash, La Mer moisturiser and the Better Than Love mascara from Too Faced. My skin regime includes the essentials. I start with a cleanser and a toner, followed by a moisturiser, and I try to use hydrating masks every now and then. I tend to change my moisturiser every season as my skin reacts sensitively to changes in the weather.

What does luxury mean to you?
Luxury, to me, is confidence. You need to feel confident in what you wear and the way you dress. If you achieve this, then you have achieved a level of luxury.

And what is the most overrated luxury, in your opinion? Private jets and sports cars.

Out of the blue

The striking aqua tones unique to the Moroccan city of Chefchaouen provide the perfect backdrop for autumn/winter's colourful staples

Photography: Timo Kerber
Fashion director: Sarah Maisey
Model: Niko at Milk London
Hair and make-up: Sharon Drugan using Dior make-up

The luxury of simplicity

A fine artist and fashion maverick, Jonathan Koon may well be the most interesting man you’ve never heard of. Sarah Maisey meets him

Jonathan Koon is endlessly intriguing. The successful entrepreneur made his first million by the age of 16, looks far younger than his 35 years and has already had more careers than most of us would fit in over several lifetimes. Dynamic and driven, he talks at a pace that only a native New Yorker could sustain, owns a global fashion empire and is an accomplished fine artist, shuttling between Paris, Hong Kong, China and New York.
And yet, when I meet him in Dubai at the launch of the latest collection by his fashion label Haculla, I encounter a man who is not only very entertaining company (I later worry that he has made it all up – I checked, he hasn’t), but also not motivated by money. It is something far more intangible that drives him.
He explains how, as a young designer who was heavily into denim, he visited the Okayama region of Japan, “the holy grail” of the denim industry, and found himself in a tiny, nondescript shop. “I wanted one pair of jeans and asked how much, but I was told: ‘No price, it’s not for sale.’ Then the owner takes the jeans and tells me to try them on. He looks at me, turns me around, and then tells me the price.
“For me, this was insane – that the owner would judge if you could have them or not. That if you aren’t right, it doesn’t matter how much you want them, he will never sell them to you.
“It was not a luxurious place, it was a little hole in the wall, but that to me was absolute luxury. It was mind-blowing.”
You could, at this point, be forgiven for thinking that Koon was born into a life of privilege – a trust-fund kid, perhaps? Yet the exact opposite is true. “My parents are immigrants from Hong Kong,” he explains. “I was born and raised in Jamaica, Queens, and there were 26 family members living in a studio apartment. I had a really interesting, struggling childhood, where I never had anything. I had no toys; no video games.”
Watching as his parents juggled multiple jobs to make ends meet, Koon made his first art sale – at the age of 8 – to Hallmark, which purchased three of his drawings and turned them into greeting cards. His parents, however, were less than impressed. When he told them that he wanted to become an artist, they said: “No, you are an only child and you are going to be a doctor or lawyer. We didn’t work this hard to bring you here so you can do nothing.”
Still on the lookout for ways to make money, a teenage Koon realised that no one was importing the Asian car-tuning parts that all his friends were raving about. So he set up Extreme Performance Motorsports with a friend when he was 15 (“I had to wait until 16 before I could legally file the paperwork,” he is quick to point out) to import car parts from Hong Kong, Japan and Taiwan into the United States.
While he initially started out selling to friends, demand mushroomed until Koon was one of the main suppliers to the smash MTV hit show Pimp My Ride. “The press said I made a million dollars,” he says, matter-of-factly. “It was pretty close to that; we were very successful.”
After a series of other lucrative business ventures, Koon eventually found his way into fashion – initially as the manufacturer behind a label belonging to rapper Cam’ron, of The Diplomats. “So, The Diplomats end up getting signed to Jay Z’s record label, Roc-A-Fella Records,” Koon explains, almost sheepishly, before adding that, by sheer coincidence, Jay Z was in the process of setting up his own fashion brand, but was struggling to find suppliers.
“Jay asked Cam’ron: ‘How’d you get such a nice hat? I am the big star here, and I can’t get a hat like that.’ So Cam’ron said: ‘I have this golden child. You have to meet him.’” Koon pauses. “So I became the first manufacturing partner for Rocawear, the largest hip-hop clothing brand in the world.”
Describing himself first and foremost as a conceptual artist, Koon is adamant that it is art, not money, that inspires him. “Everything I do, I do for my parents,” he says. “I remember, when I was young, asking them if I could be an artist. And they said: ‘Jon, when you make enough money that we can retire and you buy us our dream home, then you can become an artist.’

“At their house-warming party, I said: ‘Hey, remember 10 years ago I said I wanted to be an artist? Well, I don’t think you and Dad are working now, and I am pretty sure this is your dream home, so now I am going to be an artist.’ I was 21 or 22.”
While art is his first love, Koon decided to stay within the fashion world, to fund what he calls his art “habit”. Realising that he needed more knowledge and to prevent himself from being pigeonholed as purely “hip-hop”, Koon went to work for Domenico Vacca, the menswear label known for its A-list client base and US$20,000 (Dh73,450) off-the-rail suits. A favourite with Hollywood costume designers and directors, the brand’s clothing is often to be seen on the silver screen.
Despite Koon having no formal training or experience, Vacca was impressed enough to sign him up to design the Domenico Vacca Denim diffusion line, creating high-end but casual clothing for the likes of Denzel Washington, Forest Whitaker and Mickey Rourke. “My polo shirts were going to retail for $550, so I had to make them worth that,” he says. “I learnt a lot about extravagant textiles and hand techniques.”
In 2013, Koon opened Private Stock, a fashion store set over two levels in Andy Warhol’s former studio in SoHo, New York. “The Warhol estate did not approve, and everyone asked me if I really wanted to pay SoHo rent to carry out my weird project, and that I would never make the money back. I ended up spending ridiculous amounts of money to renovate this space.”

Unfazed by the criticism (“You are mad. You are the weirdest guy in fashion. Are you mafia? Where is the money coming from?” he recalls being told), Koon took two years to transform the space into a totally new retail concept. “The store is 5,000 square feet and there are only 28 hangers,” he says. Housing sliding lacquer walls, art installations and a koi pond that cost Dh184,000, Private Stock was designed to be unlike anything in retail.
“It’s like a giant work of art. I believe a brand is not just about clothes, it’s about all five senses. When people walk in, what it looks like, what it smells like, what sound is playing, it all matters when they touch that garment for the first time, because that is the experience you are selling.”
Perhaps it was his upbringing, or his inner artist, but Koon was determined that his store would present a completely new way of thinking. “I wanted to open a fashion store that was anti-fashion, because there are no retail experiences now. It’s all about the It bag that you need to spend $3,000 to $4,000 on or you are not rich enough. I thought this is just silly and it just plays into people’s inadequacies.”
Aimed at offering the ultimate in men’s fashion, Private Stock can be viewed as Koon’s personal take on luxury, and as such, is highly curated and strictly limited edition. “In Private Stock, I want it to be the new age of luxury, so I only produce eight pieces per size, and 28 pieces is my maximum. Imagine a T-shirt with runs of eight. And every single item is hand-labelled. The minimum run for labels is 100, so I throw away 99 of them, just so I can have an individual, woven label. That only happens in bespoke suits. Inside the clothes is a birthday card, which says, for example, that this item was made on August 16, 2017, and is piece number 3 of 8 pieces in the world that I will never, ever replicate.”
Under the umbrella of Tykoon Brand Holdings, Koon saw another gap in the market – for upscale streetwear. So he also created the Haculla label, with graffiti artist-turned painter Harif Guzman. “If you look at all the places that are evolving – Russia, China or Hong Kong – and you wear a suit and tie there, you’re a blue-collar worker. If you’ve got ripped jeans and a T-shirt on, you’re a millionaire. I realised there was going to be a gap for high-end street-punk stuff.
“Five years ago when we took it to market, people laughed at us. That cotton hoodie for $350? When it cost $10 to make? I said it’s not what it cost me to make, it’s about what it stands for in this world. I am selling you a hoodie with art work by Harif Guzman on it. If you took it to an art gallery, it would sell for $50,000. I am giving you a bargain. But if you feel it’s just a $10 hoodie, go and shop at H&M."

“I like authentic luxury, but very, very few people actually do this. Luxury is not meant to be something we have all the time. If we did, it’s not luxury. If you eat caviar for lunch and dinner, it’s not luxury, it’s just food. But for the guys who eats it twice a year, because it’s expensive – for him it’s a real luxury.
“We grew up with nothing, and now can enjoy some of the luxuries of the world, but when people market something to me of a certain pedigree, I expect it to be of that pedigree. And a lot of the time, it’s not. So if I wouldn’t accept it, why would I sell it to others?”
As we part company, I can see why Koon has achieved so much. Bubbling with infectious and barely-contained energy, he is also a natural storyteller (who, incidentally, never watches TV). Funny, informed and self-effacing, he is almost impossible to dislike, and although dressed in an oversized T-shirt and drop-crotch pants, Koon is equipped with a razor-sharp view of the world and a refined, almost elegant way of thinking. With enough money to buy anything he wants, it is perhaps his business card that says most about him. Made to resemble an all-white credit card, there are only six words on it: Jonathan Koon. The simplicity of luxury.

Inner circle

In a natural extension of its decade-old Perlée collection, French jewellery house Van Cleef & Arpels has created six diamond bracelets that pay homage to that simple but most effective of embellishments: beads.   Van Cleef’s association with the precious pellets goes back to the 1920s, when the maison began edging stones and motifs with gilded beads, and later pairing them with rubies, diamonds and pearls.
By the 1940s, beads broke out of their borders and began to form the very structure of necklaces, rings and bracelets, as in the Couscous necklace of 1948, while in the 1960s, they were employed to define the fluidity of the Twist and Alhambra collections.The latest Perlée range comprises three beaded bracelets topped on either end with diamonds and colourful cabochons of malachite, turquoise or carnelian, plus a complementary trio made up of a row of round diamonds flanked by two rows of gold beads. In keeping with the young and joyous theme of the collection as a whole, the idea is to wear the bracelets in twos or threes, or pair them with other Perlée pieces: the bold Between the Finger rings, the colourful variation jewels from the Couleurs collection or the delicately pearled circlets engraved with roundhand letters from the Signature range. Each set is realised in white, yellow and pink gold, so that wearing them stacked reveals a harmonious play of bright, sunny and warm tints.Savoir faire is a phrase regularly employed by Van Cleef & Arpels to describe its jewellery-making thought process and prowess. From sketches that capture the exact depth, dimensions, shades and facets of the stones – down to the way light will reflect off them – to the hand-reworked settings and hinges, the jeweller prides itself on both its painstaking techniques and flawless selection of materials.

 The beads that make up the body of the Perlée bracelets are individually set by hand and then polished to bring out their characteristic gleam. The discreet clasps of the bracelets come in a choice of sizes for all wrist sizes, while the inner surface benefits from the maison’s famed mirror polishing technique. The diamonds are chosen in line with the strictest gemmological criteria – D, E or F for colour, and IF, VVS1 or VVS2 for clarity – while the hard stones are hand-polished to enhance their deep green, opaque blue and red-orange tones.In jewellery, the circle represents love, trust and fidelity – that which is infinite because it has no beginning and no end; and the beaded Perlée bracelets represent the very best of that everlasting concept.

Panna Munyal

Archiving the future

Laudomia Pucci tells Selina Denman about the importance of innovation at the new Emilio Pucci Heritage Hub

In June, Palazzo Pucci, which has stood in the heart of Florence brushing shoulders with the Duomo and Michelangelo’s David, and been home to the same family, since it was first constructed in the 13th century, reopened as the Emilio Pucci Heritage Hub.
Transformed by Italian architect Piero Lissoni, the space is meant to act as an incubator for the brand’s DNA, linking its past, present and future. It is not a museum, exactly, for Florence already has plenty of those; it is, instead, “an archive for the future”, complete with a digital library featuring a Samsung video wall and Pucci-print-ensconced armchairs, and a boutique offering everything from Pucci clothing to special projects such as skateboards and limited-edition Illy cups. To create this new narrative around a brand that can sometimes be accused of holding on too tightly to its past, Pucci brought in students from leading fashion schools to rifle through the archives and reinterpret their findings.
To inaugurate the “hub”, Pucci teamed up with mannequin producer and long-time collaborator Bonaveri to create an installation that celebrated Pucci’s history in a colourful, playful, relevant way. For four days during Pitti Uomo in June, the historic space was dotted with mannequins – some were covered in Pucci’s iconic Vivara print, which was inspired by the island of Ischia; others were clad in classic Pucci colours, as well as the brand’s bags, scarves, hats and jewellery.

And in the Art Room, the mannequins adopted a more abstract aesthetic, to highlight some of the cornerstones of the Florentine fashion brand.
These examples are still in situ when I visit the palazzo a couple of months later. One mannequin is engulfed in tassels; another is seen emerging from an oyster shell, in a nod to the brand’s famous pearl bikini; some are fringed in ruffles or raffia; while one is covered in a zebra-print motif, with a braid extending from her head and wrapping sinuously around her body. It’s a reminder that while the brand may be known for its riotous colours and spectacular prints, there has always been a place for monochrome in the Pucci portfolio.
As if to prove the point, when Laudomia Pucci di Barsento strides in for our interview, she is dressed all in white. “Every brand has its forte and we are understood for our prints. But I could not be in print all the time,” she admits. “I use a lot of prints, but today I’m in solids and it’s Pucci. Our prints are often mixed with black and white. Starting with a piece of print and mixing it with solids that you feel comfortable with is always a good place to start.”
Laudomia took over the family business when her father, Emilio, passed away in 1992. Born in 1914, Marquis Emilio Pucci di Barsento was the embodiment of post-war Italian glamour. Born in Naples to one of Florence’s oldest and most illustrious families, he was multilingual, well-travelled and America-educated, not to mention an air-force pilot and Olympic athlete. In 1947, he designed a ski outfit – for himself and his socialite friends – that was promptly snapped on the slopes of Zermatt in Switzerland by American fashion photographer Toni Frissell and featured in Harper’s Bazaar.
Emilio’s first boutique was on the island of Capri, where he developed resort wear that reflected the island’s vibrant colours. He was heralded for liberating women – by creating clothes that gave them unprecedented freedom of movement. In the 1950s, he began experimenting with his now signature prints, drawing on everything from Sicilian mosaics, heraldic banners, Balinese batiks and African motifs.
Following her father’s death, Laudomia was tasked with continuing this legacy. She initially served as the company’s chief executive, until 2000, when she negotiated the sale of 67 per cent of the business to the LVMH Group. She now holds the roles of deputy chairperson and image director – and is acutely aware of the dangers of resting on one’s laurels, which, she admits, can be a “very Italian” trait.
“Italy has such an incredible history. Even our modern history... since the war, we’ve done extraordinary things. But I think we sometimes lack the energy we used to have in previous generations. Two generations ago, people were very brave; they reinvented many things; they reinvented the lifestyle, the Italian dolce vita, they created extraordinary companies that had vision.”
The challenge, now, is “adapting or readapting” that, says Laudomia. “I think what’s important is to be sufficiently innovative, clever, open, curious, and to think out of the box and understand things. Now we are talking about a generation that was born online; they will see and look at things differently to us. How will they relate to all this?”
One answer is the Emilio Pucci Heritage Hub. “The stories count more than ever,” she concludes.

Fashion technology: five fun apps

From browsing and buying clothes and shoes, to accessing online racks and the expertise of fashion stylists, dressing up involves myriad virtual possibilities, as these five apps prove, writes Panna Munyal

Orange Harp

This app prides itself on its “buy less, choose better” policy, and offers products from designers and brands committed to the sustainability of craftspeople and the planet. Some of the names and causes to check out include: Aplat reusable bags; toothbrushes from Bogobrush, which are made using compostable materials; Chilean brand Bureo, which designs skateboards from discarded fishing nets; Etkie bracelets made by Native American women; and Mitscoots, which employs the homeless to make its stylish socks. Products range from bags and jewellery to gymwear, swimwear and shoes. The app informs you exactly to whom or what cause your money is going, and also has a gifting option.

Fad – The Ultimate Fashion Dictionary

If you want to know the difference between accordion, honeycomb and knife pleats, or aren’t exactly sure what a leg-of-mutton sleeve or trompe l’oeil technique entails, this is the app for you. As the name suggests, Fad provides an alphabetised list of the terminology used by brands and designers, as well as paragraph-long descriptions of the labels and creatives – from Anna Wintour and Alexander McQueen to YSL and Zegna – that have made it big on the international fashion circuit. Regional references are few and far between, but include Lebanese couturiers Elie Saab and Zuhair Murad. Important periods in fashion, such as the Haute Couture Era and the American Look, are also part of the listing.

Stylect

This platform promises to find you the shoe of your dreams. Once you have created an account or logged in using Facebook, you can begin browsing footwear, across categories such as heels, flats, boots and trainers, based on a swipe-left, swipe-right interface. The app offers tens of thousands of pairs, ranging from brands such as Christian Louboutin and Jimmy Choo to Nike, and also keeps tabs on the pairs you like. You can purchase the shoes via Stylect or keep them on hold for a limited period of time. The app will notify you should a pair become available in your size or at a discounted rate, as well as offering recommendations based on your previously registered likes and dislikes.

Cayenne Clothing

One day this app may offer a bracelet from Dutch label Pig and Hen; the next, a pair of chinos from Los Angeles’s Neo Blue Jeans. This easy-to-use men’s shopping portal posts a single curated item at a heavily discounted rate every day, and swaps it when the stock runs out. The stylists comb through online shopping sites, pick up the coolest new designer brands (and some established ones) that are going for a bargain, and then present them with an easy-to-follow description, styling and size suggestions, the original and discounted prices, and the time it will remain available (typically no longer than 24 hours). You can track what you have ordered in the past through the My Closet tab, and get notifications the instant a new item is posted.

StyleBook

The problem with our ever-expanding wardrobes is that organising and finding outfits can prove to be a challenge. Enter StyleBook, an app that virtually arranges your closet after you upload images of your clothes. You can them emulate the arrangement, by colour, style or garment type. The app also styles your wardrobe by suggesting chic pairings that will ensure you have a different ensemble option for each day and occasion. This also helps to plan outfits in advance, keep track of what you wore when, as well as to create packing lists for when you travel. Just remember to upload images of individual items of clothing by placing them against a different-coloured, plain background. 

Dh118,100...

...is the price of this Gucci room divider. Is it the ultimate accent piece?

The panelled screen is made from poplar plywood covered in a jacquard-woven material, with a repeating pattern of colourful octopuses and jellyfish. Shades of soft pink and blue are set against an electric-green backdrop, which is entirely in keeping with Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele’s playful, atypical aesthetic.  
The piece stands 2.3 metres high, and 1.8 metres wide. Dome-shaped peaks add a touch of grandeur and are dotted with solid brass nailheads. The screen consists of three separate panels, connected by hinges so the size of the divider can be easily adjusted. It is made to order, and it will take 12 to 13 weeks before it is delivered to your door.
A Gucci armchair encased in the same eye-catching material is also on offer (complete with a pink fringe trim), for those who like to take a more co-ordinated approach to the design of their interiors. The chair costs Dh22,300.
This is not the first time that Gucci has employed an octopus motif for one of its pieces –the tentacled sea creature can also be found on a T-shirt and scarf. In the latter case, it appears wrapped around an anchor and surrounded by tiger heads, in a further example of Michele’s unconventional approach.
Gucci launched its dedicated homeware line last year, and it is brimming with the brand’s trademark motifs. Cats, tigers, moths, bees and kingsnakes are emblazoned across furniture, crockery and accessories, in a joyous concoction of colours, patterns and designs.

“The idea is not to prescribe a particular decorative look, but to provide elements that allow for living spaces to be customised,” the brand says. “[Michele’s] collection of items for interiors is intended to allow for a flexible and personal approach to decoration, bringing an accent of Gucci’s contemporary romanticism into the home.”