Kings of Chelsea

Cavalli Room set

New Directions in Fashion Interiors

In another blog post the design process at Roberto Cavalli Home was discussed, but with the arrival of a new creative consultant at the iconic Italian brand, it seems worthwhile to delve a little deeper into how the transition is made from a clothes brand to launching a fully fledged home interiors range

There is a history of esteemed fashion brands creating furniture, glassware and ceramics under license (Chanel, Gucci and Vuitton all toyed with this in the 50s-70’s) and even in-house ranges at a more noteworthy level, such as Pierre Cardin in the 1970’s with his avant-garde furniture ranges, but arguably the fashion for branded interiors delivered comprehensively really took off with Ralph Lauren Home in the early 1980’s. Perhaps it took a global American brand with an eye for the market trends to identify the full potential of an iconic fashion company to spread into all areas of lifestyle. The Ralph Lauren style transferred seamlessly into home decor and the palettes of the clothing lines were even seen in the paints that the company produced from 1995 onwards. Ralph Lauren were extremely canny in identifying the “DNA” of the brand and being able to transfer the feeling of the clothing range to the interiors, without actually reproducing exactly what was happening on the catwalk for that season. Ralph Lauren interiors are timeless and classic, and with each new season offer no shocks to the system, but an accumulation of what has gone previously. Interestingly, Ralph Lauren Home has a core “American style” but outsources production to all over the world.

The other major players in the interiors market are undoubtedly Fendi and Armani who have taken identifiable Italian flair and understated style and translated it into phenomenally successful home divisions. The hallmark of Fendi is a predominantly geometric, somewhat architectural style, which is heightened and lifted into luxury by the addition of purely luxury materials such as fur, crystal and marble. Armani on the other hand, achieves a striking effect through a subdued palette and tones and textures that resonate with followers of the brand. Armani especially has also been successful by partnering with developers and hoteliers to deliver the Armani look into some very high profile public spaces and increasing exposure of the brand.

Both of the Interiors divisions of these companies exist independently to the fashion side of the business, and of course, the products are made by third party companies. It is very rarely the case that fashion brands produce items from the home division “in-house” and rely on the skill and vision of craftsmen from other (often very esteemed) specialist workshops. This is possibly one of the reasons that certain brands such as Hermes & Chanel have felt more uncomfortable moving into these areas previously, as much of their cachet is achieved by the reputation of their own manufacturing prowess.

The design of most of the items are therefore conducted independently of the fashion side of the business, though it is likely that the lead creative will cast an eye over the ranges before they go to market. Giorgio Armani is known as being very “hands-on” and having a strong interest in the interiors side of the Armani empire as much as the clothing division.

With the seasonal cycle of fashion, it is very hard to reproduce the same plan and turnaround within the home division. Going from design to prototype to manufacturing of an entirely new line of furniture, glass, or ceramics three to four times a year is almost impossible. Cavalli has managed an unusual compromise though, which sets it apart from other brands, in that the creative director for home, works directly with, and alongside the creative lead for the brand. This means that with each new collection, at least some of this feeling will be translated into the home ranges. Cavalli has long been known especially for prints (Cavalli himself started off as a print designer for Hermes & Pierre Cardin) and the pure style of the prints is translated onto linens, glass, and ceramics as well as wallpaper and furniture. The furniture ranges are smaller, more capsule-like collections, that add each year to an ongoing story of the brand. This collaborative methodology is highly unusual, and means that the home ranges have a very identifiable link to the ongoing fashion side of the business. It’s hard work, but the results are evident. Cavalli’s furniture and accessories are also produced, wherever possible, in Italy, as this link to the heritage of the brand is an important part of the process.

With the arrival of Fausto Puglisi as the new creative lead at Cavalli, and his reputation for flamboyant and uncompromising glamour it is likely to be a very interesting time for the brand. His new catwalk designs have literally just launched and it won’t be long until the home collections follow. Expect wild patterns, a return to the heritage of the brand using animal prints and jewels, and a nod towards the more classic concept of flair, as Cavalli targets its strong markets in the USA and Middle East.

Keep an eye on Kings of Chelsea’s website and store as the new results of the collaborative creative process start to filter through…