Gucci, Armani, Fendi, Dior, Vuitton, Missoni, Loewe, Marni, Tod’s, Versace – it’s a roll call that sounds more suited to fashion week than to Milan Design Week. Yet these were the names on the attendees’ lips at the world’s largest and most influential interiors happening, better known as Salone del Mobile. No longer a side hustle, the home sector is becoming a bonafide category for many fashion brands and much fanfare was devoted to showcasing these goods during Salone and its satellite event network, FuoriSalone.
Unions with design luminaries often took center stage. Take Louis Vuitton, who transported their Objets Nomades (a collection crafted in collaboration between distinguished designers and in-house artisans) to Milan. Highlighted was Hong Kong’s own André Fu, founder of AFSO and André Fu Living, who imagined the most discerning and sophisticated client – a profile that sounded much like a like high-end fashion consumer – for his LV Ribbon Chair: “The chair is conceived with an end-user in mind – a person that is well-travelled, informed and seeking a more artistic expression in his way of living.” Similarly, Versace, always one for magnificent real estate, swung open all the doors of their Palazzo Gesu for the first time to show a series of high-octane home vignettes with NYC designer Sasha Bikoff.
For some houses, it was about creating a must-see partnership with the local Milan-based design personalities du jour instead of an international star – such as Fendi and Cristina Celestino, and Dimore Studio for Dior. However, just as many houses were interested in elevating handmade, artisanal skills as they were with linking to high-wattage firms. Artist Alessandra Roveda created a crocheted rainbow-scape playhouse for Missoni, while Loewe invited a variety of international artists and craftspeople to create a group of one-off leather baskets, and Marni tapped into their community of Colombian artisans to create a moon-inspired presentation. All week, the lines snaked around the streets of Milan for a chance to view the fruits of these collaborations.
Fashion e-tailers are taking note of this evolving symbiosis of fashion and interiors, thus affording shoppers readily-available global access. Along with stocking products already in the market, these sites have created exclusives perfectly curated to their customers. As it happens, Moda Operandi’s Chief Brand Officer Lauren Santo Domingo had always planned for Moda to enter the home arena, which launched last April. “To me, nothing is good until it is shared. I wanted to offer exquisite pieces that I love to a broader audience in a curated, thoughtful way,” says Lauren. “The Moda woman is a natural hostess, so tabletop pieces have been top sellers season after season. Moda’s initial foray into home started with a tabletop collaboration with Martina Mondadori Sartogo, Editor in Chief of Cabana magazine. Our customers responded so well that we extended the Trunkshow three times.” The art of entertaining runs deep in the DNA of the MO world. “Our biggest breakout hit? Ceramic potato bowls, made by Moda. Riffing off of Caviar Kaspia’s signature baked potato, I used them at a party during Paris Fashion Week and they were total Insta-bait,” Lauren shares. Amongst Moda’s homewares, Vladimir Kanevsky’s hyper-realistic porcelain floral sculptures – starting at a cool $25,000 HKD plus – top the list.
The MO model seems made for this expansion into interiors. Applying their concept of direct-from-the-runway to homeware, Moda is able to provide instant access to designers and brands just after – you guessed it – Salone del Mobile. The current post-Salone capsule includes a tabletop range by Idarica Gazzoni of Arjumand’s World, which was inspired by LagunaB’s signature Goto glasses – also sold on the site. Additionally, part of the program involves tapping into Moda’s stable of fashion designers to expand their offerings, and as Lauren puts it, by “encouraging them to try their hand at home and working with them to help translate their vision into full collections”.
MatchesFashion.com buyer Natalie Kingham echoes this sentiment: “Exclusives in homeware, like ready-to-wear, are incredibly important not only to give something unique and new, but we often find our customers love the story-telling behind the collaborations.” She elaborates on Matches bestsellers: “We have had great success with Preen’s beautiful feminine cushions – we developed an exclusive capsule from the RTW runway prints in snake, leopard and dark floral, which when all piled high together look so luxurious and almost like a gothic fairy tale.”
Celebrated for her keen eye and a knack for breaking heretofore unknown designers into the mainstream, Natalie’s buys have made MatchesFashion.com a true destination of discovery for those seeking a differentiated assortment. The MF community now benefits from this idiosyncratic perspective in both dressing and decorating. “Ceramics have been incredibly popular—customers are really responding to the distinctive sculptures from Lily Pearmain and beautiful line drawing vases from Venetia Berry, both of whom are young artisans based in London that we picked up exclusively as their first online retailer,” she notes. The launch of Matches’ Home section in July was followed quickly by September’s opening of 5 Carlos Place, a retail and experience hub which spans 7,000 sq. ft. over five floors in the heart of Mayfair, London. While any item one desires from Matches’ website can arrive at 5 Carlos Place within 90 minutes, the vibe when visiting is less hard sell and more like an intimate housecall on your coolest friend.
Whether it’s down to increased flexi-work schedules, unlimited streaming options, or access to inspiring, far-away rooms via social media (we are looking at you, Pinterest), there is a strong interest in extending our sense of adornment from the body to the abode.
EditorLucia Tait Tolani