Luxury hotels take collaborations with fashion designers to another level
High fashion and luxury hotels have always been connected. But it was, of course, Versace who took this to the next level, opening his first branded hotel in 2000. He paved the way for others, such as Armani, Moschino, Ferragamo and Missoni.
Last September, Versace's hotel chain announced plans for a new grand hotel in Macau, designed by Donatella Versace and billed to open in 2017.
The designer hotel trend has evolved in recent years.
Big names such as Diane Von Furstenberg, Karl Lagerfeld, Barney Cheng, BAPE and Vivienne Tam - who worked with Hong Kong's Hotel Icon - started to design exclusive suites, rooms or uniforms for high-profile hotels around the world.
American designer Oscar de la Renta recently announced a collaboration of a different kind with The Peninsula Hotels. He will be creating a collection of bathroom amenities, including a bespoke fragrance.
These collaborations, however, are becoming more sophisticated as hotels develop deeper and longer standing ties with the fashion community.
The Dorchester in London was one of the first to break new ground in 2010 when it launched the Dorchester Collection Fashion Prize for emerging fashion talent. The winner receives £25,000 (HK$316,000) to help establish their business.
Never one to be left behind, hotel chain W signed on as an official partner of the CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America) Fashion Incubator programme last year.
It now offers emerging designers "inspirational" trips to various W hotels around the world.
While such projects have begun in the West, Asia is catching on.
The W Hong Kong has created an exclusive pop-up space at Hong Kong retailer I.T. It has been introducing and supporting emerging Asian designers, including SixLee and the award-winning Chinese designer Masha Ma.
In addition to supporting the design community, other collaborations take guest experiences to a whole new (stylish) level.
Boutique hotel The Upper House, which is known for its use of cutting edge technology (all rooms have iPads which control everything from check-in to room service) recently partnered with online fashion retailer Net-a-porter to give guests the ultimate shopping experience.
For a limited period, a HK$1,000 gift card can be redeemed online, with delivery straight to their rooms. A style concierge also will provide a door-to-door service.
Dean Winter, Swire Hotels' area director of operations for Hong Kong and China projects, says: "The hotel's collaboration with Net-a-porter perfectly combines both brands' philosophies.
"The trend towards shopping for luxury goods online has been interesting to follow and when we considered how someone could send their purchase to a luxury hotel and have it waiting in their room when they arrive, the concept became irresistible."
The Upper House is also launching an afternoon tea this month in collaboration with Net-a-porter, inspired by two organic skincare brands available exclusively on the site, Aurelia Probiotic Skincare and Dr Jackson's.
Of course, branded afternoon teas were first made popular by The Landmark Mandarin Hotel, which kicked off its programme in 2009 with fragrance expert Jo Malone.
Fashion houses soon followed and the hotel's pastry chefs have since created dishes inspired by fashion collections by Marc Jacobs, Chloe, Stella McCartney and Jimmy Choo.
It isn't just about unique eats, either. This month, Langham Place Mong Kok has joined forces with British brand Thomas Pink as part of its Elevated Experiences campaign, which is offered to its Club floor guests. Privileges include in-house styling and shopping services and complimentary monogramming on purchases.
Guests who spend a certain amount can also enjoy a drive around town in the brand's chauffeured vintage Pink Morgan.
"We approached Thomas Pink because not only could we cater to guests with a real need - if they forgot something at home, lost their luggage or extended their stay, for example - but also because they have a playful spirit about them that works so well with our brand," says Alka Datwani, director of communications at Langham Place Mong Kok.