x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Home is where the label is

Design Insider Not content with dictating what we wear, fashion designers are moving beyond the wardrobe and taking over the whole house.

Karl Lagerfeld has signed a deal to design houses on the world's first dedicated fashion island off the coast of Dubai.
Karl Lagerfeld has signed a deal to design houses on the world's first dedicated fashion island off the coast of Dubai.

The late, great fashion designer Christian Dior once declared, "A woman's perfume tells more about her than her handwriting." While I'm not one to disagree with the inventor of the famed New Look, which incidentally is being reinvented for Autumn 2008 (think nipped in waists and ladylike chic), if he was around in UAE today, he might well paraphrase his definition thus: "A woman's address tells us everything about her wardrobe." I'm referring of course to the plethora of fashion designers who have recently launched residential projects in the UAE. In fact for the ardent glamourista who wants to stay "on trend", it must be a hard job deciding where to deposit a down payment. Ultimately, her decision will boil down to whether she prefers Italian or French designers. Consider, if you will, her choices.

Firstly, of course, there's the Armani residences at Burj Dubai which cost a mere Dh14 million for a one-bedroom apartment and are furnished with the minimalist palette and austere furniture for which he is known. I've always thought the look was more masculine than feminine but will undoubtedly appeal to the power-brokering female population. Then there is Armani's polar opposite, Versace. The Palazzo Versace will be built at Dubai Creek and will be home to 169 private residences and 213 hotel suites, all furnished in the Versace Home line. If Armani's palette is grey and beige, Versace is all whites and gold and residents of the massive 894 square metre residences can anticipate paying Dh150,000 per sq m once completed at the end of 2009. This bargain price includes huge entrance halls, master bedrooms, spa suite bathrooms and walk in closets as well as private cinemas, swimming pools, libraries and saunas.

Slightly more understated but no less chic will be the new Gianfranco Ferre Stresa project. Even though Ferre died last year, his Stresa project is named after the late designer's favourite holiday spot, and the apartments will all be equipped with kit from the GF brand. A museum showcasing the work of the designer will also be housed in the yet to be decided location of this tower. For those unfamiliar with Ferre's signature looks - he championed the dramatic white shirt and updated the tuxedo look for women - my money is on the apartments being decorated in classic colour combinations.

To complete the quartet of Italian masters, DIFC's Skygardens project has created quite a stir among those who lust after Fendi. The motto seems to be, if you've got the "Baguette", bag the bijou residence. The 500 bespoke apartments and seven penthouses are all furnished by Fendi Casa whose range is an ode to opulence and passion. Think ruby reds, snow whites and jet black. It's sexy and edgy and very hard to resist (as well as my personal favourite).

This (very welcome) Italian invasion has unsurprisingly been joined by the French. Christian Lacroix, whose clashing colours and prints reflect his own playful personality has just launched Luxury Living by Christian Lacroix in Jumeirah. While the ink is not yet dry on the contracts with Abyaar, it's certain that the interior design will be as baroque and folkloric as his couture line. Lastly, setting the cat among the pigeons, is of course "Kaiser" Karl Lagerfeld who launched his project on Dubai's Isla Moda amid great hoopla last month. Also known as Mr Chanel, his 80 super-luxe homes will be ready by 2012 and will be sold "by invitation" - their interiors therefore a hotly guarded secret but no less anticipated than his catwalk shows in Paris. One wonders if Ms Wintour will be investing?

I am sure that the US Vogue editrix will need no help in choosing, however the more humble fashionista may need a hand when it comes to deciding were to lay her hat. Does she follow her heart or the biggest price tag? Will she be able to predict who has staying power and who will be on trend? Perhaps the choice will depend on which project has the greatest walk-in wardrobe space. But surely the adrenalin rush of owning a designer label apartment will wear off as quickly as it does when you finally acquire the latest "It" bag?

That's why I'm staying put in Bur Dubai, surely the Hoxton of the future…