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May 1, 2007

Hotels are the New Handbags

For some stylophiles, wearing Armani just isn't enough — now they can sleep in it (and we're not talking about PJ's).

Donatella Versace has licensed one (Palazzo Versace, pictured, on Australia’s Gold Coast). Bulgari controls a couple with the help of Ritz-Carlton (in Milan and Bali). The Ferragamo family run a handful (in Florence). Christian Lacroix has a second one in the works (in Paris). And now Swatch and Armani are the latest design giants to become hoteliers. Why are so many fashion houses jumping into hospitality? Simple. To cultivate an all-consuming lifestyle brand. Swatch has partnered with Fairmont to recreate the iconic Peace Hotel on Shanghai’s waterfront. Known in the 30s and 40s as the Cathay, the art-deco hotel once hosted such A-listers as Charlie Chaplin and Noel Coward. Now, an entire wing will be transformed into the “Swatch Art Center” — effectively a flagship store for the Swiss watchmakers. And Armani? With the backing of the Emirates’ number-one developer, Italy’s most successful designer is on a warpath to design ten branded hotels around the globe — the first of which will be the “seven-star” all-suite experience that is be part of the Burj Dubai, the world’s tallest skyscraper.

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read more: 02. Sleep | resort | 12. Shop

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