Runway Worthy Real Estate: Haute Couture-designed Hotels and Residences


It’s all about couture; there is nothing quite like fastening up a made-to-measure dress, whether it’s a form flattering satin sheath or a floor grazing chiffon gown. But if you’re all dressed up, you need some place to go. And nothing complements couture quite like an haute couture-designed hotel or residence. Top couture designers Christian Lacroix, Elie Saab, and Karl Lagerfeld, as well as brands Gianfranco Ferré and Versace, have decided to put the sewing machines and dress forms aside in favor of blueprints. The result will be some of the most spectacularly brilliant hotels and residences ever seen in Dubai.

As one of the world’s first fashion-branded hotels, the seven-star Palazzo Versace Hotel Dubai, which was unveiled in April, was collaboration between real estate developer Emirates Sunland Group and the House of Versace. This luxury development is located in Dubai Properties Master Development in Culture Village on the edge of the Dubai Creek, and is a premium waterfront location with sweeping unobstructed views of the body of water. The complex is located on more than 37,000 square meters of land and is home to 213 hotel suites, two 1,200-square-foot Imperial Suites, and 169 condominium residences. Also inside the development are three restaurants, a ballroom, executive leisure lounge, patisserie, day spa, indoor pool, and of course, a Versace boutique. Outside the hotel are two lagoon pools with a sandy beach, a scuba lagoon with a simulated tropical marine environment, private pools for ground and roof-level condominiums, private marina berths, and a pedestrian promenade along Dubai Creek. The entire hotel will be furnished with Versace Home Collection, and a number of Versace’s dresses, originally designed for operas, were flown in from Milan for the gala evening that marked the start of construction.

For six weeks, Harrods devoted three windows to the Palazzo Versace Dubai lifestyle. The display featured a layout model of Palazzo Versace furniture and furnishings. “We have vast experience creating the most luxurious interiors, from world-class yachts to private jets, helicopters, and Lamborghini sports cars,” says Giancarlo Di Risio, CEO of the Versace Group. “Palazzo Versace Dubai is the supreme example of a truly exclusive Versace lifestyle.”

A new hotel will also be built in the Tiger Woods Dubai by Tatweer, a member of Dubai Holding. Dubbed Elie Saab after the talented Lebanese designer, the hotel will reflect his unique signature style. Saab began designing clothes in 1982 and is a member of the prestigious French “Chambre Syndicale.” His label is synonymous with luxury and modernism, and his couture has become a magnet for princesses clamoring to buy his lavish eveningwear. “Every detail of the hotel’s interiors will reflect my signature element that is defined by a fusion of simplicity, luxury, and modernism to create a dreamlike ambience,” explains Saab. “This is a first for me in terms of designing the interiors of a hotel, a reason why this project is especially close to my heart and will draw the best of my creative sensibilities.”

 “The city today represents the essence of the new Middle East, attracting world-wide innovative real estate projects which create the buzz and the beat.”

The Avante Guarde Tower, developed by boutique Middle East property developer Abyaar Real Estate Development, is a joint venture between Kuwait’s Aayan leasing and investment company and Al Rashdan Group. The developers decided to look to French high-end fashion designer Christian Lacroix for his expertise in rich, luxuriant design. With experience in design from working at Hermès, Guy Paulin, and Jean Patou before opening his own couture house in 1987, Lacroix was definitely the right individual for the job. Marzooq Al Rashdan, vice chairman and MD at Abyaar, says, “We approached Lacroix because he is known for his exceptional design skills and theatrical style, both on and off the catwalk. This is the start of a long-term partnership.” It is not known yet when the yet-to-be-named project will be completed, as the joint venture was just announced in April.

It was also announced this past June that Gianfranco Ferré S.p.A. and Galadari Investment Office will merge to sign a multi-billion dollar joint venture agreement, in order to build and design the Gianfranco Ferré Stresa in Dubai. “The city today represents the essence of the new Middle East, attracting world-wide innovative real estate projects which create the buzz and the beat,” says Michela Piva, CEO of Gianfranco Ferré S.p.A. “The synergy between the construction sector and Dubai’s rightful claim to being an unchallenged international business hub makes it an important country for the international expansion of the Gianfranco Ferré business.”

The Gianfranco Ferré Stresa, named after the town where Mr. Gianfranco Ferré had his personal summer residence, will consist of commercial, residential, and hospitality spaces and will cost more than $1.2 billion to construct. GIO Developments will be fully responsible for the real estate, construction, management, and operations, while Gianfranco Ferré will oversee all aspects of content, design, and style. This is the first project of its kind for the Gianfranco Ferré fashion house; the Italian fashion brand was chosen for this project because of their penchant for excellence in creating clothes and accessories of high quality for more than 30 years.

The legendary Giorgio Armani, who started his fashion empire with an unlined jacket in 1975, is now bringing his second-to-none sense of style to the Burj Dubai-the world’s tallest residential and commercial building. Part of a billion dollar deal forged with Dubai-based Emaar Hospitality Group, this is the first such Armani brand hotel. Armani will oversee all aspects of content, design, and style, including interiors and amenities, incorporating the various Armani fashion, furnishings, and beauty collections. The Dubai Armani Hotel will include 175 guest rooms and suites, five restaurants, and a spa. Alongside the hotel, the Burj Dubai will also offer 160 luxury residential apartments all designed by Giorgio Armani, fully furnished with a specially designed line of products from the Armani Casa home furnishings collection. “I know there will be a lot of hotels opening in Dubai, so I am going to have stiff competition,” the designer said. “I am trying to offer the same thing in the hotels that I do my fashions: a certain balance and elegance.”

Karl Lagerfeld, arguably the world’s most iconic and influential fashion designer, has partnered up with Dubai Infinity Holdings to design and construct limited edition homes for Isla Moda, the world’s first dedicated fashion island, in The World development. This will be a unique and exclusive partnership between the acclaimed fashion designer and the holding company.

The legendary fashion pioneer is most celebrated for his collaborations with Chanel, Fendi, and his own brand, Karl Lagerfeld. Despite already having a hand in three fashion labels, publishing, and luxury ad campaign photography, as well opening a bookshop in Paris, Lagerfeld has decided to take this on as his first commercial residential project. The island will incorporate an unparalleled level of design and architecture, lifestyle services, and brand partnerships. It will combine a 250-room hotel, serviced residential villas, one-of-a-kind views, private beaches, pools, bespoke retail offerings representing some of the world’s most prominent designers, and first-class service for guests and residents. Lagerfeld has also signed on to design several limited-edition homes, making the entire development a literal Mecca of style.

“Dubai is a fashion bud on the verge of blossoming into the next fashion hub of the world,” says Lagerfeld. “The city is alive with culture and rich in personality, making it a perfect place for aesthetic, fashion, and design to flourish. Isla Moda has tremendous potential to be the style icon of the future and I intend on driving the island to high style stardom.”