Fashion designer Walid Zaazaa is attempting to jazz up Singapore's retail landscape.
In April, the Frenchman will open the concept shop Manifesto at the new Capitol Piazza mall situated on the grounds of the historic Capitol Building and Stamford House.
Modelled on the popular French concept store, Colette, it will carry more than 50 brands, of which many are carried exclusively by Manifesto.
These include Italian fashion brand Costume National, French fashion brand Christophe Lemaire, Dutch fashion brand Avelon and French swimwear brand Swim-Ology. It will also stock a selection of design books and furniture.
Prices will start from $10 for a pair of socks to $2,500 for a Costume National dress. Furniture pieces could go up to $4,000 each.
"When I first moved to Singapore five years ago to work for DKNY, I realised that there weren't many concept stores where one could find everything from clothes to furniture," says the 36-year-old, who was a former senior menswear design director at DKNY, senior design consultant for Replay jeans and senior creative manager at Calvin Klein.
The opportunity to open the store came about a year ago when he managed to secure a 2,500 sq ft space at Capitol Piazza.
"I didn't want it to be just another store along Orchard Road and I like that the building has heritage," he says.
Mr Zaazaa, who did his fashion studies at the Ecole Superieure des Arts et Techniques de la Mode in Paris, also has an accountancy diploma.
"My costume designer aunt was the one who got me interested in fashion. I spent much of my childhood watching her make crazy costumes and touching amazing fabrics that aren't available today," says the lanky Mr Zaazaa, who has a penchant for black.
"My aunt was always dressed in black; she's the reason why I wear only black," he adds. As most of the brands at Manifesto are lesser known, Mr Zaazaa, who is single, says his friends have raised concerns about the store's viability.
"Honestly, I have no clue how the business will do, but I do think that Singapore is ready for less mainstream brands. At the very least, I hope people are curious enough to come and see what we have," he says.
1. THE WALART WALLET
This is made of waterproof paper. I love how light and thin it is. I have about three cards and some cash in it. There's no room for coins, so I keep my coins in my pockets, which I think is what most guys do.
2. EZ-LINK CARD
This is my first and only ez-link card. When I first moved to Singapore, a colleague got this for me as a welcome gift to Singapore.
3. DKNY WINDBREAKER IN A BAG
I designed this during my time at DKNY.
I don't like carrying an umbrella, so this is really useful. It also comes with a pocket to fit an iPad. Unfortunately, I don't think they sell this anymore.
One of my employees gave me this notebook as a gift when he started work.
I really appreciate paper products, so this was a super cool gift.
5. FUJIYA COOKIES
I always get friends to bring me these chocolate chip cookies if they are coming from Japan - they are the best I've ever had.
I always have two watches with me to keep track of the different time zones. My Casio watch keeps Paris time.
7. SOMETHINK COMPLETELY DIFFERENT
I bought this dark humour book in Colette.
It's filled with funny one-liners and these two are my favourites.
This article was first published on February 13, 2015.
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