Table of Contents

Publisher & Editor-In-Chief Chief Executive

Yousuf Jassem Al Darwish Sandeep Sehgal
Executive Vice President

Alpana Roy

Vice President

Ravi Raman

Sindhu Nair
Chief Fashion Correspondent

Debrina Aliyah

Senior Correspondents

Abigail Mathias Ayswarya Murthy Ezdihar Ibrahim Ali
Sub Editor

Sue Eedle

In Fashion

By Design

Arena Qatar
Culture Camp To Accessorize

Senior Art Director

Venkat Reddy

Deputy Art Director

Hanan Abu Saiam Ayush Indrajith

The best accessories for fall — soft briefcases, toneon-tone watches and dress boots — take their cues from classic banker style. Paired with an offbeat pinstripe suit, they’re anything but conformist. Photographs by Paul Wetherell. Styled by Jason Rider.
45 Turning Point

David Karp lives by the principle that the world doesn’t need more flashy gadgets and fancy software — which would be fine, had he not founded Tumblr. By Tim Wu. Photographs by Ben Hoffmann.

Both Qatar and the UAE are going through a cultural awakening of sorts. Does Qatar have a stronger agenda? By Sindhu Nair.
55 On Heritage

To discuss Delvaux is to discuss Belgium. Tracing the history of a brand that is intent to move beyond its shores. By Debrina Aliyah.

Assistant Art Director Senior Graphic Designer

Maheshwar Reddy

Rob Altamirano

Senior Manager – Marketing

Zulfikar Jiffry Thomas Jose

Assistant Manager – Marketing

Antoine Arnault spent his youth enjoying the spoils of being the LVMH titan’s eldest son. But by successfully betting on high-end men’s wear as an ever-ripening luxury category, he’s quickly proving that nepotism only goes so far. By Dana Thomas. Portrait by Benoit Peverelli.

Giovanna Ferragamo might be less involved in the designing process of the clothswear in her family business but that doesn’t moderate her passion. Following the growth of a family-owned business that basks in its “Made in Italy” heritage. By Sindhu Nair.

Media Consultants

Hassan Rekkab Lydia Youssef

Marketing Research & Support Executive

Kanwal Baluch Accountant Pratap Chandran Bikram Shrestha Arjun Timilsina Bhimal Rai Basanta P

Sr. Distribution Executive Distribution Support

Editor in Chief

Deborah Needleman
Creative Director

Patrick Li

Deputy Editor

Whitney Vargas
Fashion Director at Large

Joe McKenna

Managing Editor

George Gustines
Photography Director

Nadia Vellam

THE NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICES The Museum of Islamic Art, Doha, top; Antoine Arnault in the entryway to his Paris home, right.
General Manager

Michael Greenspon
Vice President, Licensing and Syndication

Alice Ting

Vice President, Executive Editor The New York Times News Service & Syndicate

T, The New York Times Style Magazine, and the T logo are trademarks of The New York Times Co., NY, NY, USA, and are used under license by Oryx Media, Qatar. Content reproduced from T, The New York Times Style Magazine, copyright The New York Times Co. and/or its contributors 2013 all rights reserved. The views and opinions expressed within T-Qatar are not necessarily those of The New York Times Company or those of its contributors.


Nancy Lee

Editorial Director Oryx Advertising Co WLL

Josephine Schmidt
Editor, T International Editions

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George Gustines

Gary Caesar Jessie Sandler

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NEW DIRECTION Clockwise from left: Marco Probst steering the house toward new horizons; the construction of a crocodile Brilliant bag; art collaboration with Arnaud Kool featuring illustrations of real people with Delvaux bags.

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The Awakening
Belgian pride is poised to make a global impact.

TO DISCUSS DELVAUX is to discuss Belgium. Charles Delvaux


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made his first trunk luggage in 1829, a year before the founding of Belgium as a nation. And as Belgium grew, Delvaux became intertwined with the nation’s identity, prospering through political and industrial revolutions, and surviving through colonialism, migration and war. “It’s really Belgo Belge, such a strong Belgian identity,” says Belgian fashion icon Didier Vervaeren. The relationship has a strong root among its people that is hardly rivaled by any other in the world. Handbags and leather pieces are inherited from generation to generation, and the gifting of a Delvaux piece between family members marks a significant milestone like marriage or childbirth. “It has always been the symbol of luxury in Belgium. My grandmother had several Delvaux handbags and they were the treasured heirlooms in the family,” says Damien Carlier, a Belgian fashion designer based in Qatar.

With a 184-year legacy, Delvaux is the oldest leather manufacturer in the world. But while its younger contemporaries from neighboring France have gone on to become global luxury icons, Delvaux remains steadfastly local in its reach. Beyond its deep entrenchment in Belgium, very little of the brand is known outside the country. The brand’s initial international efforts to open stores in Los Angeles and Paris in the ’80s were not successful except for a small cult following in Japan. But those early missteps were no deterrent to the billionaire Fung brothers of Hong Kong, who saw the legacy and potential in Delvaux. In 2011, the brothers through their investment company Fung Brands Limited, acquired a controlling stake in the company from the Schwennicke family who had run Delvaux for the past 80 years. It was a much-needed partnership to help renew Delvaux’s image on the global stage and to highlight the house’s atelier, which

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specializes in master leather craftsmanship. This was, after all, a house that holds Belgium’s royal warrant for leather goods, and manufacturer of some of the best leathers in the world. Following the acquisition, Marco Probst, previously of Hugo Boss and Chloe, was appointed as Delvaux’s CEO. In the span of two years, international sales for the house have risen from 4 percent to 20 percent with the opening of new points of sale in Beijing, Seoul, London, Paris and, most recently, Doha. It was the opportunity of a lifetime, says Probst, to helm a brand that has such storied history and archive. “I still get goose bumps every time I speak about the legacy of the brand,” he quips. The new direction of Delvaux has seen an increased commissioning of collections that are more contemporary and colorful. Every new piece is designed as an interpretation from the house’s design archive, which consists of more than 3,000 handbags dating back to the days of founder Charles. The Madame bag, the au courant hit among global style makers (Katie Holmes and Sienna Miller are fans), was first conceived in 1977, while the house’s signature Brilliant bag was designed in 1958. “Every brand wants to fall back on a history as its marketing strategy, and here we have years of archival works to refer to. Isn’t it a dream to be legitimate, without making up stories?” asks Probst. The quality and craftsmanship of Delvaux’s handmade bags have been essential to its longevity and brand loyalty in Belgium. The after-sales department is an integral part of its atelier, where bags as old as 40 years are still being sent in to be refurbished. The preservation of this skill has recently become a priority, with an increasing interest from young Belgians. Delvaux’s senior craftsman Mohammed Benelcaid, who teaches evening classes in leatherworking at Brussels’ Institut des Arts et Metiers, says the renewed interest may have been caused by the economic crisis, resulting in young people becoming more aware of the value of quality work. “Such know-how is priceless. Wagering on artisanal quality and know-how required audacity, but artisanal excellence remains the pillar of Delvaux,” says Kaat Debo, director of the Fashion Museum Province of Antwerp, “and this could well make the difference in the current economic climate.” It is in this new economic climate that Delvaux is hoping to make its mark, appealing to the growing set of clients who are seeking more than the usual flashy names. The absence of a distinguishable monogram and continuous collaborations with esteemed yet lowprofile artists on various projects have given Delvaux a sort of “secret handshake” status. As Tina Craig of BagSnob puts it, “when you carry a Delvaux, you are not flaunting the fact that you’re carrying a high-end designer. It is understated chic at its very best — only insiders will know the house behind your bag, but the

Every new piece is designed as an interpretation from the house’s design archive, which consists of more than 3,000 handbags.

UNDENIABLE LEGACY From top left: bags awaiting after-sales service; Princess Paola visiting the atelier in the 1980s; the original Delvaux trunks feature amply bowled lids to allow rainwater to run off; a small bag made from Delvaux’s specialized fish skin leather; the Venetian hallway as the centerpiece of new Delvaux boutiques.

November-December 2013


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quality will be recognized.” This understatement continues in the house’s new store concept designed by Luxembourger artists Martine Feipel and Jean Bechameil in collaboration with retail space architect Tiziano Vudafieri. Breathing new life into Delvaux’s decades-old boutique at Galerie de la Reine in Brussels, the design duo combined their conceptual installations with traditional Flemish furnishings, setting the mold for future Delvaux’s boutique. “Delvaux was like a sleeping beauty coming back to life and it was very interesting for us,” says Feipel, “there’s a discretion and softness to the brand, which we could relate to.” But heralding the brand has not been a walk in the park for Probst. The initial response to the acquisition by Fung Brands garnered backlash. “This brand is an institution; whatever it does, it is watched by Belgians,” Probst explains, “There was a misunderstanding, and people felt it was an attack on national pride being acquired by an outsider.” And then there was the issue of internal change. Having operated under very few owners, the brand had developed a certain business process that was very focused on the Belgian market. Probst had to introduce a new model to cater to the new visions. However, his efforts have paid off. Recent artistic projects including handbag art installations in 10 Corso Como, Milan and at the iconic Manneken-Pis statue in Brussels have revived positive interest among Belgians. New presence on social media and the opening of new points of sale internationally have in turn increased nationalism. “This brand is 184 years old; I don’t want to be the guy who ruins it!” Probst says. In the heart of Brussels lies The Arsenal, a former maintenance and repair depot for military vehicles that has been refurbished as the headquarters and atelier of Delvaux. The Arsenal is also home to the ultimate showpiece for Delvaux, its tribute museum, which houses the earliest luggage trunks made by Charles himself. That these pieces are still in existence in mint condition is the biggest testament to the quality of work produced by the house. The museum is a private venue, open only by invitation, and is part of the brand’s work in providing an engaging experience with clients. “This is a brand that needs introduction and communication for new clients to understand the where, how and why,” Probst says.“We are not just asking people to buy this or that; we are not an in-your-face brand.” Communication and education are on-going, even to the younger generation of Belgians, especially with artistic collaborations. This long tradition of working with external creative personalities, including Martin Margiela, continues. The various collaborations, resulting in art illustrations, installations, and keepsake booklets, represent very personal relationships with clients and help highlight the playfulness and relevance of the brand. Most recently, Belgian painter and illustrator Arnaud Kool conceived the idea of Venetian window illustrations for the house’s spring 2014 presentation at Paris Fashion Week. At the showroom, there was an unexpected air of cheerful interaction between fashion editors and guests with the brand. The bags, instead of being perched on a pedestal, were dangling on guests’ arms as photos were snapped and laughter was shared. It was endearing, just like the time the founder of Belgian cafe Le Pain Quotidien, Alain Coumont, recounts his earliest memory of the house: “I was 10, and I had used an old Delvaux bag as my fishing gear sack.” Delvaux’s first store in the Middle East is now open at Porto Arabia, The Pearl-Qatar.
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DESIGN QUALITY From top: inspiration sketches made by the design team of the 1950s; new techniques are developed in the atelier; the leather library at The Arsenal where skins dating back over 30 years are kept, allowing precise matching of leather for aftersales repair work.

‘This brand is 184 years old,’ Probst says. ‘I do not want to be the guy who ruins it!’

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