For decades, developers have relied on posh-sounding addresses, starchitects and evocative building names to market their projects. Recently, however, some have opted for a more expedient route: teaming up with luxury brands.
Already a popular trend in the Middle East, the practice has made serious inroads lately in Miami, where pending condo projects include collaborations with Porsche, Armani/Casa, Fendi and Missoni. Even Karl Lagerfeld is testing the waters, designing the lobbies of a Miami Beach condo.
“Most projects have the personality of the developer behind them—the developer’s taste is what you’re buying. So for a lot of people, it isn’t surprising that they’d prefer someone like Armani, who is a worldwide designer,” explains Gil Dezer, the developer behind Miami’s Porsche Design Tower and Residences by Armani/Casa.
The appeal of a global brand, Dezer notes, is especially strong when the clientele is as international as Miami’s.
“If you’re lucky enough to find a brand that speaks to your customer base, it makes the introduction,” says Alicia Cervera Lamadrid, managing partner, Cervera Real Estate. “I think most every woman who dresses in couture has at least one Missoni dress in her wardrobe.”
Being the detail-oriented perfectionists that they are, luxury designers can typically be counted on to get very involved in their namesake projects. Giorgio Armani must approve all ads related to the project; the Missoni family futzes with throw pillows in the sales gallery.
Of course, deciding on a luxury design has the potential to be yet another source of conflict for condo-shopping couples. Dezer recalls an incident in which a Russian man had come to pay a visit to the Porsche Design Tower sales office in the company of a much younger woman.
“He loved it, he was so into it, so into it,” Dezer says, looking back. “But she was sitting there with this sour look on her face. Finally, she demands, ‘I want Armani!’ ”
They bought at Residences by Armani/Casa.
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