In a world where every moment is documented for Instagram, brands have come to realise that consumers are seeking more than just another Birkin on their arm.
No longer is it possible for a brand to simply showcase a runway collection and call it a day. Brands such as Chanel have instead expanded their portfolio to include accessories, cosmetics and fragrances. Having fans of the brand decked out in Chanel from head to toe, increases exposure for the brand and cements its status as the epitome of luxury and style.
“A designer hotel acts as a great branding tool for a major brand that seeks a new audience. A hotel is a great way to open up an old-school brand to the new and the young.”
Brandusa Niro, editor-in-chief of The Daily Front Row
As an extension of this, some brands have also ventured beyond the worlds of fashion and beauty, partnering with major hotel groups to establish themselves as serious hoteliers. Says Brandusa Niro, editor-in-chief of The Daily Front Row, “A designer hotel acts as a great branding tool for a major brand that seeks a new audience. A hotel is a great way to open up an old-school brand to the new and the young.”
The gamble for most has paid off, but there are exceptions. Where others were successful, some brands such as Missoni have seen their worldwide master licence agreements dissolve in a matter of years despite being backed by a reputable hotel group. As Niall McLoughlin, Vice-President of DAMAC Properties told the South China Morning Post, “Branded developments can only work if the brand in question offers real added value”.
So, the question remains, what makes a hotel run by a fashion designer or fashion brand different from any other, and do they do the brand any justice?
Take for instance Bulgari Hotels & Resorts. As 2017 comes to a close, the brand would have welcomed two new properties and shows no sign of slowing down. Under the care of architecture firm Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel, each property “preserves several iconic Bulgari characteristics throughout while simultaneously incorporating the uniqueness of each destination”.
At last count, the brand offers 442 rooms that provide guests with the finest materials that money can buy. In Beijing, one of the newest properties, the exterior is reminiscent of the iconic BZero1 collection that features clean lines and geometric shapes.
Within, the hotel combines this sleek sophistication with Italian flair thanks to the rich marble in the spacious bathrooms and teak wood floors that transform what could have been a cold hotel room into a cosy enclave you can unwind in. The beds are soft and luxurious, and when paired with cashmere blankets, you know that Bulgari will have you pampered at no expense.
Located in Dubai and Milan, the two Armani Hotels represent everything that the fashion brand has come to be known for, and boast minimalist aesthetics much like the clothes sent down the runway. Think black, white and grey interiors that leave no question in your mind of where you are and who designed the space. Having your own private butlers to take care of your every whim and fancy also helps to assert the notion that anything by Armani is meant for those who appreciate the finer things in life.
The man behind the brand never liked frills in his designs so it makes sense that his hotel follows a similar aesthetic. The genius, however, is not in who designed the space but rather how the brand has used it for Armani’s trek into the world of furniture design.
Furnished in Armani/Casa and offering guests the Armani range of beauty products, you are reminded of all the things that Giorgio Armani has presented the world — oh, and you may even be tempted to have the items in your home. An intelligent marketing strategy, if you ask us.
If Bulgari and Armani are not your cup of tea, then maybe the flamboyant Palazzo Versace is the flavour for you. The land Down Under is the setting for one of two hotels that we can enjoy, an unlikely location since many have turned to Dubai, but there may be a market there for a brand that rarely follows convention. The unmistakable medusa emblem greets guests in the form of a giant mosaic floor pattern as they enter the hotel though there is nary a sign of it elsewhere on the premises.
The hotel in Australia, much like the outpost in Milan, stays true to the flashy designs that have walked the runway. Joining the Roman pillars are marble floorings and large crystal chandeliers that further accentuate the Italian flamboyance of Versace. Created as an homage to Gianni Versace who founded the brand, the hotels hold a special place in the heart of Donatella herself.
As such, it is no surprise that the hotels feature the glamour of the platinum blonde fashion designer, from the furnishings to the custom-made Versace toiletries in each room.
Joining the league of brands that have their very own hotel developments is Fendi, but in this case, the execution is much more about exclusivity than something commercial.
The Fendi Private Suites in Rome are just a stone’s throw away from the flagship Fendi boutique and close to the brand’s original headquarters, and while the other fashion brand hotels have hundreds of rooms to provide guests a chance to live the life envisioned by its creative teams, Fendi offers just seven private suites, complete with a concierge team and private entrance. This makes the Fendi Private Suites an indulgence that few can enjoy even if they could afford to.