Titans of the catwalk from Armani to Missoni have lent their talents to the hotel biz over the years. But what’s the design hotel of the future? A Kenyan safari a la Dolce & Gabbana, perhaps? An Alexander Wang reboot of an NY grande dame? In honor of Fashion Week, Emma Sloley debuts the designer-hotel collaborations of our dreams
Alexander Wang x The Algonquin, New York
Why: It's all in the contrast. New York's king of downtown cool would bring some cool kid grit to one of the city's most beloved grande dames.
What: Preserving the Algonquin’s slightly secretive vibe and its 1920s heyday, we'd love to see Wang inject some moody minimalism and edgy drama by designing a presidential suite. We’re picturing an austere aerie with black accents aplenty, lush textures and nods to Wang’s greatest hits: bedside tables with spiky legs reminiscent of his cult boots; perforated leather drapes; bedspreads imprinted with the Wang logo (see: Spring 2014). In the closets? Androgynous silk boxing-style robes. We’re guessing it wouldn’t hurt business to have the designer’s loyal model posse draped over the sofas in that famous foyer either.
Stella McCartney x A Californian Health and Wellness Ranch
Why: The Brit designer’s minimalist aesthetic, penchant for sportswear (including a partnership with Adidas) and passion for veganism make her a natural fit for a wellness resort.
What: This is pure fantasy, but we picture a discreet hideaway on hundreds of rolling acres, where guests come to decompress, detox and exercise (kitted out in McCartney’s must-have sneakers and hyper-stylish workout gear). The whitewashed lobby would be flooded with light and approved by a Feng Shui master. We see lots of white horses, the designer’s famous friends sneaking cigarettes and a restaurant serving healthful vegan food, ideally helmed by fashion-set chef Yottam Ottolenghi.
Karl Lagerfeld x The Carlton, Cannes
Why: While Lagerfeld is already designing two suites for The Crillon in Paris and has a mega-resort planned for Macau, we’d love to see him get his gloved hands on this Belle Epoque beauty. Now an Intercontinental, it enjoys a stellar position on the Croisette and a star-studded clientele (particularly during the Cannes Film Festival)—a sprinkling of fairy dust from Chanel’s frontman would only add to the magic.
What: For a start, a Chanel-themed screening room with seats of quilted leather (a nod to the label’s iconic 2.55 bag) and cup holders (Champagne only, please) with interlocked C’s. Staff would sport lightweight bouclé skirts (ties for the fellas), jackets with oversized buttons and layers of pearls. Choupette, Lagerfeld’s adorable feline companion/social media mogul, could star as the hotel’s mascot and the rooms would be lightly scented with Chanel No. 5.
Gwen Stefani for L.A.M.B. x Hilton Tokyo
Why: The Hilton is strolling distance from Stefani’s longtime fixation, Harajuku, with its impeccably-costumed living dolls, big inspirations for both her designs and music.
What: We propose a head-to-toe revamp that marries Stefani’s funky, California girl style with the hotel’s buttoned-up business man vibe. We’re thinking silk drop-crotch pants, crop tops and eye-popping plaid on staff and suites with bathroom amenities inspired by Stefani’s signature fragrance, L. Standard rooms would stock her Harajuku Lovers line of cutesy scents. There would, of course, be a DJ permanently installed in the lobby. (Perhaps old pal Pharell Williams could help out?)
Mary Katrantzou x Grand Bretagne, Athens
Why: Born in Greece, the London-based designer’s mesmerizing digital prints have attained a cult following. Our fantasy collaboration is a chance for her return to her roots and devote her talents to an Athenian grand dame, starting with the pool.
What: If Katrantzou’s past partnerships (with Longchamp, Paris’s Colette and Swarovski) are any indication, this pairing would be the most splendid kind of eye candy (much like the designer’s ravishing color palettes). The landmark hotel’s rooftop pool would have splashes of her signature prints, from the cabanas, loungers and bar staff aprons, right down to the swimming pool’s tiles. One night here and the fashion set would never make it to the Greek Islands.
Dolce & Gabbana x Fantasy Kenyan Safari
Why: Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana are tailor-made for a project like this—the sauve pair regularly reference African tribal dress, textiles and imagery in their collections and advertising. Commissioning them to create a tented camp—set in Kenya, the birthplace of glamorous safari style—just makes sense.
What: We picture a classic series of silken tents filled with luxurious animal-print fabrics, Masai beadwork, European candelabra, lavish bouquets of fresh flowers and carved beds draped with diaphanous canopies and embroidered coverlets. The finishing touch? Views of the sweeping Masai Mara. Bellissimo.
J.Crew’s Jenna Lyons x Elbow Beach, Bermuda
Why: Who better to bring this most idiosyncratic of Caribbean island hotels into the 21st century than the woman almost solely responsible for bringing geek glam to the masses? Knowing Lyons’ cult following and J.Crew’s formidable fan base, this little-known destination wouldn’t stay under the radar much longer.
What: Lyons could take over a wing of Elbow Beach, adding a level of effortless sophistication to the hotel’s breezy island charm. Everything would have a J.Crew spin, from the towels (handwoven Turkish cotton with a custom stripe) to the cushions (green silk jacquard) to the shoehorn in the closet (custom-made by a family-owned artisan manufacturer in Italy). Guests would be issued a J.Crew Fujimax instant camera loaded with film to document their stay in retro style. In the bedside drawer? A complimentary pair of geeky-cool black-rimmed reading glasses.
Gucci x the Raffles Singapore
Why: Timeless glamour is something both these brands have in spades, and both the 1887 British Colonial classic and the iconic Italian house have always attracted the jetset.
What: We’d never want to see the original Raffles go changing—those beautiful white marble colonnades, the teak verandah, the antique ceiling fans, the Palm Court? We’d put Frida Giannini in charge of masterminding a very special—and exclusive—suite. We’re thinking buttery leather sofas, black onyx tables, the house’s famous horsebit motif re-imagined as drawer pulls. She could nod to the Asian setting with a spa-like bathroom furnished with a Japanese wooden soaking tub for two, plus Gucci slippers and silk eye masks. Plus, there would be in-room cocktail accoutrements (for mixing Singapore Slings), thus eliminating the need to leave (a convenient feature when one’s hosting an illicit liaison).
Miuccia Prada x The Royal, Copenhagen
Why: Few designers in history have possessed Miuccia Prada’s uncanny ability to fuse the nostalgic with the utterly of-the-moment. Her challenge? To take this Copenhagen icon (now branded the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel), designed by Arne Jacobsen in the 1960s, from a business hotel to a fashion world fixture.
What: Room 606 is the only room that features Jacobsen’s designs, but we’d love to see the entire property reflect this Danish Modern master’s influence, updated for today’s stylish traveler. Enter Prada, who could invent a print inspired by famous Scandinavian motifs—the crown-and-waves factory mark of porcelain maker Royal Copenhagen, say, or the classic artichoke shape of Poul Henningsen’s celebrated lamp—and use it to punch up the room décor. She could curate a rotating series of locally-sourced art installations for the public spaces and we’d love to see her develop a hotel-branded fragrance for the public inspired by her bestselling Prada scents.
Tommy Hilfiger x The Cotton House, Mustique
Why: This one’s a no-brainer, given that the king of preppy Americana already has a huge spread on the exclusive Caribbean enclave. The island’s only hotel is already charming, but we’d love to see a handful of Hilfiger-directed touches sprinkled throughout this sweet old-school spot.
What: Mustique is a private island, and many of the household-name owners prefer to stay cloistered in their OTT villas while in residence. So what’s a Cotton House guest to do for fun? Hilfiger would have to design a beach bar for the hotel and we know it would be jumping, especially if he had a hand in choosing the playlist (a high-energy mix of up-and-comers plus Hilfiger pals David Bowie and The Rolling Stones); the cocktail menu (mixed with all-American tipples like Tito’s vodka); and staff uniforms (madras checks and rugby stripes).
Courtesy of Tim Street Porter
Louis Vuitton x The Venice-Simplon-Orient-Express
Why: Granted, it’s a train not a hotel, but when the digs are as legendary—and luxurious—as the carriages of the Orient Express, there’s only one fashion house that could improve on the experience. We know he’s pretty busy, but we’re confident Nicholas Ghesquière could tackle one presidential suite train carriage.
What: Our fantasy Louis Vuitton for Orient Express suite would be outfitted in wall-to-wall Vuitton, using only the finest leathers and silks, all embossed with that famous monogram, bien sûr. It would be just the thing to get the fashion crowd to ride the rails between the European capitals during fashion season. (Added bonus: a chance to put those vintage LV steamer trunks to use!)
Rodarte x Post Ranch Inn, Calfornia
Why: Given Laura and Kate Mulleavy’s Californian roots, we’re swooning at the idea of them decking out one of the classic Big Sur stunner’s Tree Houses (literally, cottages built on stilts among the treetops). The sisters’ renegade romantic aesthetic perfectly complements the inn’s glamorous yet low-key vibe.
What: We picture an interior filled with Rodarte’s greatest hits: throw rugs in the duo’s cobwebby knits, nubby, hand-dyed bedding and an enchanting array of femme accents and curios (perhaps cushions embroidered with the striking beaded scorpions from the SS 14 collection?). The result: out-of-this-world whimsy with a modern edge.
Burberry x Tierra Patagonia
Why: Today’s peripatetic cool kids head for places like Patagonia to get their wild fix, and we’d love to see Burberry follow them there. Especially since the venerable British label has outfitted many of history’s most intrepid explorers—from Antarctic legend Roald Amundsen to celebrated aviator Claude Grahame-White—in its distinctive gabardine garb.
What: This luxe 40-room Torres del Paine newcomer doesn’t really need any help appealing to the well-heeled adventure traveler, but we’re tickled by the idea of Burberry’s head designer Christopher Bailey adding an unexpected touch of Explorer’s Club glamour to the milieu. We can see the company’s trademark plaids cozying up to the décor of a room or two (including blankets, wellies and umbrellas in the closets), creating the perfect balance of classic and contemporary.
Opening Ceremony’s Carol Lim and Humberto Leon x a Paris Pop-Up
Why: An unconventional hotel concept calls for an unconventional approach, and this trend-setting duo are just the visionaries to create a cult pop-up hotel. Their genius lies in their ability to curate: Since Opening Ceremony’s founding in downtown New York in 2002, Lim and Leon have championed names like Rodarte, Pendleton and Maison Martin Margiela, and collaborated with creative minds like Spike Jonze, Terence Koh and Chloë Sevigny.
What: Thanks to their status as creative directors of cult fashion house Kenzo, we chose Paris for their (temporary) hotel tour de force. We see them using their knack for showcasing an entire country—something they regularly do at their stores—to encapsulate the cosmopolitan spirit of the French capital. The duo would assemble a roster of fashion personalities to design each unique room, and common spaces would showcase video art. Check in quick before they move on.