The area is home to the UNESCO world heritage site At-Turaif, recognized as one of the world’s foremost mud-brick cities and the valley and lush palm groves of Wadi Hanifah. It will soon include the Diriyah development, a pedestrian-centric project inspired by the country’s rich heritage.
Chosen by the Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization as the capital of Arab culture for 2030, Diriyah will comprise 13 districts filled with museums, cultural institutions, fine dining, residences, hospitality offerings, office space, retail and outdoor attractions.
The project — run by Diriyah Gate Development Authority, or DGDA — is one of the drivers of the Kingdom’s 2030 Vision, aimed at diversifying Saudi Arabia’s economy and developing public service sectors such as education, infrastructure and tourism.
“This is a pioneering project that was born from rediscovering Saudi Arabia’s roots: a dialogue between history and the present that I find very fascinating,” said Giorgio Armani.
“After celebrating the 10th anniversary of the opening of the Armani Hotels in Milan and Dubai, I am ready to take on this exciting new challenge. I am inspired by this initiative and delighted to be part of a project of such wide geographical and cultural scope.”
Diriyah Gate Development Authority’s group chief executive officer Jerry Inzerillo said Armani Hotels’ approach to modern hospitality “will bring a new dynamic to Diriyah’s hospitality offering, and bring with it an exciting guest experience to the Kingdom.”
Overlooking Diriyah’s luxury hospitality and retail quarter, the Armani Hotel Diriyah will include 70 rooms, two restaurants and a high-end spa, while suites will also have their own spa and a swimming pool. The hotel will be connected to 18 exclusive Armani-branded residences with spacious interiors and outdoor pools, terraces and rooftops.
The hotel is expected to echo the design of the Diriyah development, which will be built in the traditional Najdi architectural style typical of Saudi villages from past centuries. There will be low-rise, compact architecture, rooftop terraces, decorated doors and large courtyards.
Armani Hotel Diriyah will be developed under the Armani Hotels & Resorts banner, a venture between Giorgio Armani SpA and Dubai-based developer Emaar Properties PJSC that was established in 2005.
The designer’s hotel debut was in Dubai’s Burj Khalifa tower in 2010. That site has 160 rooms and suites, nine restaurants and a spa as well as 144 luxury residential flats, all furnished with Armani/Casa collections.
The following year, Armani Hotel Milano opened in a building originally designed in 1937, in Italian Rationalist style, by Enrico A. Griffini on Via Manzoni. The building also houses the brand’s megastore and the Armani Nobu restaurant. — SANDRA SALIBIAN
SAUNDERS AND FARAH: Bianca Saunders, the winner of last year’s ANDAM Fashion Prize, is giving her collaboration with British menswear label Farah a proper introduction to the market with a screening soiree and a pop-up installation to be revealed in Selfridges’ menswear floor atrium on Thursday.
The capsule, which Saunders described as a combination of “the nuances of masculinity together with the influences of my Caribbean heritage,” saw the designer exploring ways to push forward Farah’s signature cuts and silhouettes with her own techniques.
Standout pieces from the capsule include ruched sweaters, notch-neck polo shirts, utility jackets and a simple white T-shirt that says “Love is all I bring.”
Her research for the capsule was mostly conducted in FaraPress, Farah’s own archive, as well as looking at male subcultures and music from the 1970s — such as Althea & Donna’s 1978 track “Uptown Top Ranking,” which describes how a Jamaican man would dress himself up as he heads to the city to show off and was used as the title of the collection.
Chris O’Brien, global head of design and concept at Farah, praised how Saunders’ exploration of male identity through style and subculture is in line with what the brand stands for.
“Celebrating her Caribbean heritage, the music of a decade that inspired so many movements with modern adaptations that still hold true to both brands is the makings of a wonderful collaboration,” he added. — TIANWEI ZHANG
STEELE’S HONOR: Dr. Valerie Steele, director and chief curator of The Museum of FIT, has been named the 2022 recipient of the National Arts Club Medal of Honor for her achievement in fashion.
Steele is the first fashion historian to receive the honor.
The club will present her with the honor at a reception at the NAC clubhouse in Gramercy Park on April 22. The evening will include remarks by Ralph Rucci, Daphne Guinness and Robin Givhan, senior critic-at-large for The Washington Post.
“A familiar face at our club and all around New York — the fashion capital of the world — Valerie Steele has spent decades educating audiences on all aspects of fashion,” said Alice Palmisano, president of the NAC. “It is our privilege to recognize her extraordinary insight and expertise.”
Since 1997, Steele has curated or co-curated more than 25 exhibitions, including “The Corset: Fashioning the Body”; “Gothic: Dark Glamour”; “Ralph Rucci: The Art of Weightlessness”; “Daphne Guinness”; “A Queer History of Fashion”; “Pink: The History of a Punk, Pretty Powerful Color,” and “Paris, Capital of Fashion.”
She is also the author or co-author of more than two dozen books, including, “Paris Fashion: A Cultural History,” “Women of Fashion” and “Fetish: Fashion, Sex and Power.”
“Fashion is such a fascinating, multifaceted subject,” said Steele, who holds a Ph.D. in cultural history from Yale University. “I’m grateful to the National Arts Club for this honor. It is always a pleasure to spend time with knowledgeable people who appreciate the cultural significance of fashion.”
Previous honorees for fashion have included Geoffrey Beene, Carolina Herrera, Arnold Scaasi, Patricia Field, Norma Kamali, Iris Apfel, Narciso Rodriguez and Anna Sui, among others. — LISA LOCKWOOD
Blending the rock ‘n’ roll aesthetic of John Richmond with the pop-tinged and cheeky bent of Playboy, the collection builds on the latter’s signature rabbit-head logo, first introduced in 1953.
The genderless capsule comprises T-shirts, hoodies, jeans and jean jackets bearing the jacquard, printed or embroidered rabbit motif. A tangerine tracksuit features the logo splashed allover, while the repetitive pattern appears more subtly on the back pocket of jeans and as a tone-on-tone embellishment on denim shorts. Accessories include a cap and shopping bag.
The collection debuts this week and is available on the John Richmond e-commerce site retailing between 130 euros and 360 euros.
The tie-up speaks of both brands’ efforts to rejuvenate and enhance their appeal. Earlier this month, John Richmond announced a partnership with cryptocurrency provider Shiba Inu, one of the key players in the blockchain-enhanced ecosystem, for the launch of an NFT-based fashion collection later this year.
For its part, Playboy is trying to pivot away from its legacy as a man-centric magazine (the print magazine ceased publication at the start of the pandemic after 66 years in circulation) and rebranding itself as a consumer lifestyle business for men and women.
John Richmond is operated by Arav Group, which also controls the Marcobologna and Silvian Heach brands. The group acquired a controlling stake in the fashion house founded by the British designer, who still holds the role of creative director, in 2017. — MARTINO CARRERA
The brand has worked with the British graffiti artist and designer known as INSA to create a collection of NFTs and physical jackets that will be released on Thursday at 4 p.m. U.K. time.
Okuyiga, who was born in Lagos, Nigeria, and raised in the U.K., founded Wonder two years ago with the aim of “celebrating products and brands that matter.”
Going forward, she plans to “collaborate, cooperate and consult with like-minded brands and artists,” and will be launching an e-commerce site later this year. The site will initially carry Wonder products, and will eventually add brands.
Okuyiga said she wants to focus on “underrepresented audiences and brands,” with forthcoming collaborations including Wonder x Aaliyah and Wonder x Footpatrol.
The online store, meanwhile, will be about creating a “luxury and streetwear fashion ecosystem that celebrates Black excellence” and ensuring that underrepresented brands and businesses “can win at all levels.” She also wants to increase “representation and ownership at the highest levels among the global Black community, and women throughout the omniverse.”
Asked about why she founded Wonder, Okuyiga said that after 12 years of working in fashion and retail, “I noticed the lack of diversity in the C-suite level, with often women and other minorities ‘doing the doing’ without having equity or ownership. Wonder was created to authentically remedy some of these issues.
“I knew that my filter on the world as a Black woman, raised in Birmingham, born in Lagos, had a resonance with a relatively large audience and this gave me the confidence to do it on my own terms, by working with brands, retailers and artists in a way that makes sense, to make amazing product moments happen both digitally and physically,” Okuyiga said.
She added that Web 3.0 “really excites me as creatives are being rewarded without having to go through gatekeepers. More than this, women and marginalized communities can take full ownership of their work and challenge the inequalities within wages and income distribution. I hope that Wonder can be an example of what can be possible within this space.”
Wonder launched in the metaverse earlier this month with a Decentraland pop-up during Metaverse Fashion Week. It previewed a selection of drops from the coming season and offered NFTs that served as preorders against future physical product drops.
The collaboration with INSA is priced at 666 pounds for the physical jacket and corresponding NFT; and 333 pounds for the digital jacket/NFT.
Going forward, the brand will focus on virtual and physical products, with Okuyiga leveraging her background in product design and development. She created one of Topshop’s all-time bestsellers, the super-skinny Joni jeans style, which generated millions in revenue for the retailer, which was sold to Asos last year. — SAMANTHA CONTI