PARIS — Sheikh Majed Al-Sabah, one of the Middle East’s most high-profile retail figures, is stepping down as chairman and creative director of Villa Moda Lifestyle, WWD has learned.
According to market sources, Al-Sabah could reveal his resignation as early as today, following frustrations with Villa Moda’s new owner, the Dubai International Financial Center.
The DIFC, which is owned by the Dubai government, took a majority stake in Villa Moda last September and trumpeted ambitions to go global with the retail banner. Instead, sources said, the DIFC fell behind on day-to-day operations, financial reporting and a complicated consolidation. Trading of shares of Villa Moda, quoted on the Kuwait Stock Exchange, has been suspended since April.
Market sources recently estimated annual revenues at Villa Moda to be in excess of 60 million euros, or $86.3 million at current exchange rates.
A member of the Kuwaiti royal family and a cheerleader for the Gulf region’s business potential, Al-Sabah opened his first fashion store in Kuwait City in 1992. In 2002, he christened a 75,000-square-foot Villa Moda emporium and flew the likes of Stella McCartney, Domenico De Sole and Bloomingdale’s late Kal Ruttenstein to join him for a sumptuous celebration featuring everything from camel rides and fireworks to luncheons with society women.
Since then, Al-Sabah has been a front-row fixture at European shows and has expanded his footprint across the Middle East, experimenting with souklike retail concepts and tapping cutting-edge industrial designers.
Today, there are Villa Moda locations in Qatar, Bahrain, Dubai and Syria, along with some 40 flagships for a range of European brands, including Gucci, Prada, Fendi, Dolce & Gabbana, Valentino, Dries Van Noten, Marni and Yves Saint Laurent.
Al-Sabah, who has recently dabbled in real estate and contemporary art ventures, could not be reached for comment on Monday.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast