Designer Assaad Awad channels luxe bondage in desserts for a whipped cream tea

Handbag-shaped confections add a touch of daring to MO Bar's afternoon tea

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 September, 2015, 8:01pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 September, 2015, 8:01pm

In recent years we've seen a growing trend for branded afternoon teas as designers from Jimmy Choo to Stella McCartney have lent their talents to luxury hotels looking to lure in fashionistas with Instagram-worthy confectionery modelled on stilettos, shopping bags and other stylish accessories.

September sees the launch of a more unconventional collaboration with stylist and fetishist designer Assaad Awad. At MO Bar at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, guests can indulge in desserts fashioned into handbags inspired by the art of bondage. As a special treat, they can also check out Awad's infamous "Yes I Wood" dress worn by Lady Gaga, which will be auctioned for charity later this month. There is also a pop-up store showcasing his accessories line, which is known for its cool mix of luxury and S&M.

"It will be my first collaboration in Asia and with a hotel. The idea of seeing my bags transformed into an edible design is so exciting. I have always identified with [Spanish chef] Ferran Adrià because he is so creative and eclectic, and gets ideas from the most unexpected places. This is also the way I create things. I need to be transversal and think not only about fashion when I create. I love reaching this level of experimental design," says Awad.

The Madrid-based designer may not be well known but he has been making waves lately with his bold creations. After starting out as an architect, he moved into fashion styling and was soon working with celebrities such as Madonna and high-profile fashion houses such as Mugler.

A few years ago he launched his eponymous label featuring accessories for men and women.

"I believe so much in what I do and I felt there was a niche for my creations because my bags and accessories are very different from other brands," says Awad. "I wanted to create an exclusive brand with a limited production - I don't think it's cool to find more than three people wearing the same bag as you, even if it is the most expensive one.

"My pieces are not for everyone. You have to feel them and they have to match your personality because accessories are what defines a look, even more than clothes," says Awad.

Awad's designs are experimental and include the Cage collection, a line of evening bags covered in bondage-inspired leather cages, and the Alpha collection, a luxe interpretation of soccer and rugby balls. His Wonderwood bag, which makes an appearance in the tea set, is made from leather and chestnut wood and comes with a matching handle.

"My creations are inspired by many things; it can be nature, people in the street or even ugly things. I always think, 'What could I do to make it better?' Design for me is a problem and its solution. If we don't discover new things, everything would feel redundant and boring. We should transform everything around us to something exciting and new," he says.

Although his designs are more fashion forward his techniques are old world. Everything is produced in a small village in the highlands of Andalusia, Spain, which is known for its high quality leather and crafting techniques. As a result, the line combines tradition (the art of handmade) with a modern, almost avant-garde sensibility.

"The fashion industry is moving so quickly. I don't believe in this. I believe in sustainability; I prefer the handmade process," he says.

"I am a craftsman and I like to investigate materials and techniques, and this takes time. My creations are timeless pieces. I believe in durable accessories that will last for a long time. This way, you can create a certain relationship between you and this accessory.

"I'm so interested also in the concept of ecoluxury. The fashion industry is probably one of the most contaminating and we have to start becoming conscious about what we buy and how is it done. Most of my products are made using ecological processes," he says.