As cloth­ing la­bels clam­our to cre­ate cus­tomer loy­alty, a new batch of brands are cross­ing over into home decor. Odessa Paloma Parker looks at the de­signer names ven­tur­ing be­yond the closet to take over the rest of your liv­ing space

The Globe and Mail (Prairie Edition) - - GLOBE STYLE - Spe­cial to The Globe and Mail

The de­but of Gucci’s home col­lec­tion, notes Odessa Paloma Parker, sig­nals a grow­ing de­sire to fully em­brace a de­signer la­bel’s look

W hen Gucci an­nounced it would launch a home decor line this fall un­der the watch of its prized creative di­rec­tor, Alessan­dro Michele, the fash­ion world was elated. Michele’s over-the-top sen­si­bil­ity and de­sire to “Gucci-fy” the world with a mix of fan­tas­ti­cal mo­tifs con­tin­ues to shake up an in­dus­try that’s been fix­ated on un­der­stated con­cepts like atheleisure for the bet­ter part of two decades. Gucci’s au­di­ence can be de­fined more as devo­tees than cus­tomers, for em­brac­ing Michele’s mas­ter­ful melange how­ever they can.

Many de­sign­ers, from Ar­mani to Ver­sace, en­deav­our to achieve this to­tal aes­thetic com­mit­ment from clients by branch­ing out into house­wares so that shop­pers feel like they are truly liv­ing the la­bel’s ethos and not just wear­ing it. “I think peo­ple are be­com­ing more and more ob­sessed with the home,” says J.J. Martin, ed­i­tor-at-large of Wall­pa­per* magazine, and founder of the Mi­lan-based life­style brand La Dou­ble J. Martin’s com­pany sells pre­vi­ously-loved cloth­ing and ac­ces­sories along­side a new line of pieces crafted with archival prints; house­wares are made in part­ner­ship with the likes of Ital­ian ce­ram­ics brand Bi­tossi Home and tex­tile pro­ducer Mas­cioni. “Per­son­ally, I pre­fer to stay home and have din­ner par­ties rather than eat out at a restau­rant,” says Martin. “I love to dec­o­rate my home and take care of the table, too...It’s a won­der­ful way to share your ex­pe­ri­ences with peo­ple, rather than just buy a pair of shoes for your­self. I think it’s re­flect­ing an over­all shift and change in the mind­set of most peo­ple who like to nest.”

Martin, who launched the La Dou­ble J site in 2015, rec­og­nizes that not every­one favours the bois­ter­ous look she prefers. Which is why, to her, home decor makes sense as an ex­ten­sion of the brand. “[T]he Dou­ble J woman isn’t nec­es­sar­ily as crazy for print and mix­ing pat­terns as I am,” she says. “She might just like an oc­ca­sional pop of colour or print. The thing that unites us all is our love for some­thing orig­i­nal, spe­cial and that is easy to wear. The table top works in the same way: You can be crazy like me and layer many dif­fer­ent pat­terns on the table, but some­one more min­i­mal could add a fun touch with just a printed nap­kin and their own white plates.”

With its sim­i­larly max­i­mal­ist slant, Gucci Decor de­fines its of­fer­ings as “an eclec­tic col­lec­tion of items with which cus­tomers can dress their own spa­ces”; pieces range from quirky tea pots to sur­real din­ner ser­vices that would look at home at a Sal­vador Dali-hosted soiree. While some might see a decor line as an en­try-point into a brand in the same way cos­met­ics and fra­grances are, the prices of items from Gucci’s new line ri­val the cloth­ing of­fered at its bou­tiques.

The re­la­tion­ship be­tween fash­ion and decor goes both ways. Brands like The Rug Com­pany (TRC) have come to cap­i­tal­ize on the blend­ing of both mar­kets. The Lon­don-based en­ter­prise will cel­e­brate its 20th an­niver­sary this year with new col­lab­o­ra­tions fea­tur­ing fash­ion heavy­weights like Paul Smith, Alexan­der McQueen and Vivi­enne West­wood.

Christo­pher Sharp, co-founder of TRC, ex­plains that when he first launched a line of rugs de­signed by folks in the fash­ion space, it was still very much a novel con­cept. “Our idea was to cre­ate beau­ti­ful hand­made de­signs that were fresh and ex­cit­ing, and we thought that work­ing with a de­signer could bring some­thing en­tirely new and un­ex­pected to our col­lec­tions,” he says. “Our first stand­alone col­lec­tion with a col­lab­o­rat­ing de­signer was with the fash­ion [brand] Marni. The de­signs were un­like any­thing we’d seen be­fore – beau­ti­ful, colour­ful prints that we knew in­stantly would bring an en­tirely new aes­thet­i­cal value to hand­made rugs.”

The Rug Com­pany’s cur­rent sea­sonal of­fer­ing also boasts col­lab­o­ra­tions with de­sign­ers Thom Browne and Elie Saab, whose aes­thet­ics could not be more dif­fer­ent. As Sharp, notes, that’s the beauty of its fash­ion-minded decor line - the po­ten­tial is as lim­it­less for the home as it can be for the body. “All the de­sign­ers we work with of­fer a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive which is equally valu­able,” he says.

HOUSE COU­TURE Re­cent fash­ion-de­signer for­ays into the house­wares space in­clude (clock­wise from above) table­ware from La Dou­ble J in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Bi­tossi Home; Gucci Decor’s em­broi­dered Chi­avari chair; and The Rug Com­pany’s Chiaroscuro print by Alexan­der McQueen.

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