No. 143 . 23 April 2003 
ArchitectureWeek
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Villa Moda's International Chic

by Don Barker

Surrounded by shipwrecks from the Persian Gulf War of the early 1990s, an unused dockland area on the outskirts of Kuwait City is an unlikely setting for one of the Middle East's most luxurious fashion stores. But adjacent to industrial shipping containers is a place where Kuwait's wealthy come to buy international chic.

Opened in April 2002, Villa Moda is the brainchild of Sheikh Majed al-Sabah, the 35-year-old nephew of the Emir of Kuwait. Besides his fashion business acumen, the young prince also has the ambition to become Kuwait's first minister of tourism.

The new Villa Moda is a 100,000-square-foot (9300-square-meter) glass-cube emporium overlooking the Persian Gulf. Designed by Italian architect Pierfrancesco Cravel, with interiors by the British design firm Eldridge Smerin, the building is a glass box divided internally into fashion "aquariums."

There are ten stand-alone brand-specific areas including those for Gucci, Fendi, and Ferragamo, along with Vertu, the luxury communications company, and two multi-brand shops. With customers visiting the store an average of 2.5 times per week, spending US$500 per visit, this is a place of serious shopping.

Guided by a Vision

Al-Sabah started his retail business 12 years ago, after the first Gulf War. "I didn't want to be in a shopping mall," he recalls. "I took a very old TV studio and turned it into a fashion destination."   >>>

 

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