In just three short years, Bessie Afnaim Corral and Oliver Corral have achieved what many young designers only dream of. In February 2020, their brand, Arjé, known and loved for its trophy-status sheepskin jackets and coats, was offered by all major retailers, from Net-A-Porter to Selfridges. Then the first wave of Covid-19 lockdowns hit. No one was buying clothes, let alone a $ 3,000 sheepskin; everyone was stuck at home. As retailers began canceling orders, the Corral, who met as chief co-designers of Donna Karan’s Urban Zen (and are now married), made a drastic decision: They would turn to selling household items and would end up liquidating their clothing archives.
Although they had no formal training in interior design, the Corrals channeled their creative energies into renovating the one-bedroom duplex in Manhattan that previously served as a design studio and living space. Their Instagram stories from last year look like what the Magnolia Network could be if Chip and Joanna Gaines were really into DIY Venetian plaster archways and lined the walls with hundreds of fluted oak panels while wearing chic outfits from cream colour. The end result: Arjé Home, a spacious Mediterranean-inspired apartment where everything from Re Jin Lee ceramics and Nordic Knots rugs to color indexed books and framed art by Jessalyn Brooks is available. The Corrals have also teamed up with an upstate manufacturer on private label Arjé furniture, including a dining table made from walnut beams salvaged from a 150-year-old barn and a lounge chair covered in leather. sheep that looks a lot like one of their old coats. “The way we make clothes is the same as we see space,” says Afnaim Corral. “It’s not like we’re giving up on fashion,” adds her husband. “We just don’t want to do the same thing anymore. “
The Corrals’ intuition that taste is taste – whether you’re talking about a coat or a chair – taps into a larger trend among consumers and fashion brands, a trend that may have been inevitable into account. given the interweaving made necessary by the waves of blockages. “As people spent more time at home during the pandemic, our category of housewares got stronger and stronger,” observes Liane Wiggins, head of women’s clothing purchasing at Matchesfashion. “Our customers were looking for ways to inject joy into their surroundings, and we saw a shift towards investing in housewares as there were fewer opportunities to get dressed and go out. The Matchesfashion house vertical features decors in more than 75 lines, ranging from global luxury brands like Brunello Cucinelli, Max Mara and Jil Sander to independent household goods brands like Tina Vaia (sculptural ceramics), Yinka Ilori ( vibrant patterned crockery) and Bernadette (flowers – print sheets). And despite the gradual easing of pandemic restrictions, the Delta variant is still raging and sales of household items have increased by more than 30% this year.
Saunders may be making her most exciting housewares debut on Matchesfashion this fall; This is Jonathan Saunders’ first collection since he stepped down as Creative Director of DVF in 2017 and created fringed suede cushions and knit throws. The Scottish designer, who also makes unique furniture, dyed fabrics at his Williamsburg, Brooklyn home and even set up a screen printing table in the living room. The lookbook showcases its iconic combinations of colors, patterns and textures and features models in zigzag plaids or sweaters made from the same recycled yarns. “I like the idea that these lines between fashion and interiors are blurred,” he says. “There is an element of self-expression in the way you put the clothes together. And of course, your house is also a canvas.
The increased demand for housewares has offered a vital lifeline to many independent fashion brands over the past 20 months. “We’ve seen a lot of success stories from brands that were previously stocked in other departments enter the housewares space,” says Lea Cranfield, purchasing and merchandising manager for Net-A-Porter, highlighting the popularity of the blankets. in cashmere from ready-to-wear brands like Erdem and JW Anderson, as well as Gabriela Hearst, who is launching limited edition blankets for the holidays with tie-dye fabric from her Spring 2021 collection. similar success from our jewelry brands, such as Completedworks and Anissa Kermiche, which have branched out to now include home decor items, ”adds Cranfield. “Their vases suit us incredibly well. ”
During the initial lockdown in London last year, Kermiche herself saw demand soar for her signature Love Handles vase (which looks like a woman’s hips and thighs, with real handles at the waist) and other ceramic pieces with insolent names that celebrate the female form. In three months, the stock that she had planned for the whole of 2020 was gone. Kermiche attributes the sudden hype to “this private invasion of social media.” While we are stuck at home with Instagram and TikTok as our primary avenues of social interaction, thanks to the constraints of social distancing, our followers are seeing our inner lives more than ever, not to mention our coworkers who now scan our homes on. Zoom. “It’s not just about looking great on the outside with nice clothes, but also your house can’t look like crap anymore,” says Kermiche. “I see household items as the clothes in a house.” She adds several styles to her homemade “wardrobe” for the holidays, including the Buttero dish, a butter dish inspired by Fernando Botero’s exaggerated volumes, and the Sugar Tits jar, a glass cup with a ceramic lid in the shape of a breast with a nipple piercing.
Designers, even at the highest echelons of fashion, cater to the needs of our always home-centric lifestyles. At the end of August, sofas drew even more demi-couture evening dresses at Dolce & Gabbana’s Alta Moda fashion show in Venice, where Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana unveiled their first furniture line, Dolce & Gabbana Casa. “[We] dreams of building a habitat ‘suited’ to your personality, passions and tastes, ”said the designers of their facility in a thriving 16th-century guild that featured examples of Italian craftsmanship such as Murano glass, hand-painted Sicilian ceramics; and furniture covered with lush brocades hand-woven on traditional looms. “Home is, after all, the place that best reflects who we are.”
A week later in Milan, Supersalone, the 2021 edition of the Salone del Mobile design fair – and the first since 2019 – looked a lot like a fashion week thanks to the rise of participating fashion brands, from Off- White to Hermès. Several have paid homage to design classics. Dior unveiled its Medallion Chair project, which saw 17 architects and designers, including India Mahdavi, Dimorestudio, Joy de Rohan Chabot and Khaled El Mays, reinterpret the Louis XVI-style seating once used in founder Christian Dior’s couture salon. Loro Piana Interiors presented a sinuous Gabetti e Isola Bul-Bo floor lamp from the 1960s whose bulb-shaped base came dressed in cashmere.
To meet the time of working from home, Gucci has launched a new category, Gucci Lifestyle, with a pop-up cartolerie selling chic stationery such as GG Supreme notebooks, sticky notes and zip cases filled with Caran d’Ache colored pencils. Meanwhile, Louis Vuitton digitally unveiled a Campana Brothers modular room divider made up of colorful avocado-shaped pieces and a Raw-Edges table inspired by the night sky.
A notable theme at Supersalone was safe home entertainment from Covid. MissoniHome showcased outdoor sofas and square ottomans covered in the brand’s signature zigzag patterns. Elsewhere, bar cabinets have come in several iterations; they could be found with a cashmere lining (Etro Home Interiors) and in the shape of a Medusa’s head (Versace Home). Armani / Casa showcased useful kitchen utensils such as a rolling pin and spaghetti measure in a pretty turquoise marble effect resin. “What I love about housewares is that unlike a dress, jewelry or shoes, you can actually share them with friends,” says JJ Martin, founder of La DoubleJ, who saw Ready-to-wear sales plummeted last year as its raging-patterned porcelain plates and table linens sold through the roof. Martin is betting on a good season for intimate receptions at home. She features gilded Napoleonic plates (in La DoubleJ pink, of course) – and fancy hostess pajamas with feather trim, for those who want to do it all.
This article originally appeared in the November 2021 issue of Harper’s BAZAAR, available on newsstands November 9.
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