Isabell Kristensen, haute couture designer with shops in Monaco and London
During the 2017 Film Festival, Isabell Kristensen is showing her first show in Cannes Saturday, May 20 at 6 pm.
ML: Can you tell us about your journey fromDenmark to Monaco, and to becoming an internationally acclaimed designer?
IK: From a young age I worked as a model and I loved fashion but always knew my heart lay in design. I spent many years exploring fashion and the works of great designers – the colours, the shapes, the structure – as I had never seen such pieces in Denmark. Roberto Capucci was one of my early favourites.
Travelling was always a source of inspiration for me, I worked for some time in Italy and travelled in the South of France. As soon as I had the chance, I entered a fashion design competition in London, which I was fortunate enough to win and was sponsored to take part in the “Clothes Show Live”, the first fashion exhibition available to the public. I took so many orders during the event and I could not believe how positive the response was. I began building my own couture house in London and later throughout Europe.
ML: You have a shop in Vielle Ville. Do you remember your first impressions of Monaco?
IK: My first impressions were that Monaco was quite special, surrounded by mountains so close to the sea and with a unique culture and community. It has a city feel, with the glamour and business qualities, but as you integrate deeper into Monegasque society, you realise it carries all of the charming humbleness of a small town as well. The Monegasques are such lovely people, it is the type of place where everyone knows each other and says good morning as they pass in the street.
ML: What is something people would be surprised to learn about Monaco?
IK: Monaco is very glamorous and that is the side that everyone expects but there is so much more to it. It’s a welcoming and diverse place while maintaining a strong and unique cultural feel. I learn so much from living here and meeting all of the international people who are also drawn to this amazing place. All throughout the year there are events such as the Yacht Show and the Grand Prix, for example, that bring people from all over the world together.
ML: Where you do you prefer to shop?
IK: All the world’s best brands are in Monaco it is impossible to choose one.
ML: Your favourite view?
IK: On the drive up the Rocher to my shop, there is the most spectacular view of Port Hercules, the yachts, the sea, and the mountains. It’s like a cocktail of beautiful and glamorous things, you cannot see anything like it elsewhere in the world.
ML: Let’s talk about your shop and Isabell Kristensen design.
IK: I established my company almost twenty-five years ago and my goal as a designer has always been to create unique and individual pieces that highlight the best aspects of each unique and individual woman. Ralph Lauren once said, “I don’t design clothes. I design dreams.” This is very much the way I feel and my reason for why I love my work. My clients in Monaco often say “vous êtes desmarchands de rêves”. A dream is pure and creative, something that one has thought up entirely independently, something unique to you. The dream is the most important thing. I named my first fragrance “Dreams” for precisely this reason. A perfect Isabell Kristensen dress ought to be an extension of the wearer’s personality, an accessory to her character.
ML: How does the designing process work?
IK: I draw inspiration from many things, for example Hans Christian Andersen’s tales, however, the natural world has often been a source of stimulation for me especially when designing a collection for a launch somewhere I have never held a show before. Such was the case for a collection I launched in Jamaica. Many of the pieces were inspired by the natural beauty of the island’s unique species of flora, as well as by the Jamaican national bird and even the Jamaican Boa. This is always what most inspires me, something uniquely beautiful.
ML: Can you share some names of women who have worn your clothes?
IK: I have been extremely fortunate throughout my career to be able to dress some of the world's most beautiful and talented women including Katy Perry, Nicole Kidman, Kate Winslet, Paris Hilton, Joely Richardson, Shania Twain, and Liza Minnelli, who funnily enough approached me at a party in London and asked where I got my dress from. Two days later she was being fitted in my London Boutique in Knightsbridge.
The first public figure I ever dressed was someone of whom I was a huge fan, Dame Shirley Bassey. She believed in my designs when my brand was still in its infancy. I walked up to her at a cocktail party and said “I designed a gold dress for you” and she graciously took my card. Five days later, my shop had just opened, she came in, looked around for 20 minutes and then left saying she would be back with her agent. She did turn up the next day and bought 32 dresses in one go. She literally started my business in a fantastic way, and is my good luck omen.
When I got the cheque I told her I was going to put in on the wall for good luck and she said “Oh no, I’d put it in the bank because there will be many more.”
To this day she is still a client of mine, and when she tries on clothes in the shop she starts singing. We worked together for her performances at the Royal Variety Show, performance at the Oscars and Her Majesty the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
ML: Favourite designer moment when someone wore one of your creations?
IK: I have so many different design projects in many countries, it’s difficult to choose just one moment from another, but I was very proud to dress HSH Princess Charlene for the Princess Grace Foundation in New York, she is really one of the most elegant women I have been fortunate enough to design for.
ML: What does success mean to you?
IK: For me, success goes hand-in-hand with happiness. It may seem a cliché but there are few better feelings then when you dream of doing something and then have the opportunity to do it. For example, when I had the opportunity to realise one of my life-long dreams to work as a costume designer for a feature film. I worked on the set for “Shanghai Baby” dressing the star Bai Ling over the course of several months and it was a wonderful experience. Not only working on a movie set but also getting to travel to Shanghai and live in an entirely new culture for the course of the project. Working on this movie was another chance for me to learn and experience so many new things and it was amazing.
ML: What do you make of today's fashion and would you say Monaco has its owndistinct style?
IK: Fashion fads will come and go, and while it’s good to be aware of fashion trends and cycles, never let them consume you. Your own unique sense of style is what makes you a designer.
Monaco certainly has a specific fashion style. There is an element of sophistication, a certain sense of style that lends itself to attending important business meetings while simultaneously hopping on and off yachts, sitting by the race track watching the Formula One and then immediately attending a fabulous gala after. There are few places that can compare.
[caption id="attachment_8091" align="alignnone" width="640"] Isabell Kristensen fashion show at CREM's birthday party in June.[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_8090" align="alignnone" width="640"] Isabell Kristensen with HSH Prince Albert II at CREM party.[/caption]
ML: How did you become a CREM partner?
IK: We were approached by CREM to do a fashion show, they had heard about our fashion shows and really wanted to work with us. We took on this event at the heliport as we loved the idea of getting to place our catwalk over the landing pads overlooking the sea, this had never been done before and we are always striving to challenge ourselves and demonstrate what can be done in Monaco.
ML: What is a typical day in the life of Isabell Kristensen?
IK: My day starts very early. I wake up and drink my coffee, I only drink a special chocolate coffee that I buy in Denmark, and travel all around the world with it. Immediately upon waking my head is already filling with designs, so I try to sketch as many out as possible, coffee in one hand pen in the other. After my coffee, depending on which country I find myself in, everyday is different.
ML: What is the advantage and disadvantage of being a woman in business?
IK: People often ask me how did I manage, starting a new business in such a competitive industry, building my business across different countries, expanding into new sectors, developing new products and all with four children? It is interesting how men never get asked this question, which I think exemplifies a great hidden advantage of being a women in business. So much of what we women do goes unnoticed and because of this we are often underestimated and also highly self-motivated. If you try working late on a collection, reviewing a new marketing campaign, analysing your figures all while simultaneously looking after your children, you develop laser focus and a strong ability to concentrate efficiently because your time is divided by four. The disadvantage is that there are not enough of us.
ML: What is the one app or device you cannot live without?
IK: Whatsapp, it keeps me connected to my family all over the world and often works faster than emails in business. Also, the music on my phone, the one thing I cannot live without is music.
ML: What is the best and worst part of aging as a woman?
IK: This is easy, the best part of maturing as a woman is grandchildren. I would not exchange time with my grandchildren for anything. The hardest part is probably glasses, I break mine all the time!
ML: I've read fun elements about you. You once filmed an underwatershoot and also you wanted to test zero gravity. Where do these ideascome from?
IK: Yes, I actually did do an underwater photo shoot in Monaco, and I will have to say in all my years of doing photo shoots it was definitely one of the hardest. Having to hold your breath and stay underwater with your eyes open long enough to take a picture was all part of the struggle, not to mention I was wearing an evening gown that had to be specially made to tolerate water. I also went into zero gravity, that entire experience was amazing, you cannot explain the feeling until you try it, it's like flying. I have always wanted to do a fashion show in zero gravity. These ideas come from a constant desire to turn thought into reality just as I do with designs, it is like I said dreams are so important so I try to fulfil mine and do what I dream. If I dream of flying I will find a way to fly!
ML: You have four grown children and grandchildren. What didmotherhood teach you about yourself?
IK: Yes I have four children and three grandchildren actually my eldest daughter has a son and recently had twin girls. I myself have three daughters and one son and they are all grown now. Motherhood is the most wonderful experience a woman can go through in her life and it teaches you a lot of things. I speak to each of my children and my parents each day. I also travel a lot and visit my family all over the world so I never go too long without seeing them. My son, Martin, works with me full-time often in different countries developing various areas of the business, but we are always together for the tough stuff, big projects, big collections, big deals so that strengthens the relationship. I love having family involved, my youngest was recently modelling at my show, she is so beautiful and so talented, for her at this stage walking the catwalk is like walking down the street.
[caption id="attachment_8102" align="alignnone" width="640"] Fashion show at the Yacht Club de Monaco during the 2016 Yacht Show.[/caption]
ML: What woman do you most admire for her elegance and style?
IK: Grace Kelly. Without a doubt, a true fashion icon, so effortlessly elegant. She achieved so much, a fantastic international career, a fantastic role model but most importantly a fantastic Mother. Remarkable women of her stature are a great source of inspiration and admiration. In my latest collection “Les beautés de la Mediterrannée” I could not help but consider the exquisite Princesse Grace Rose Garden as one of the Cote d’Azur’s most notably beautiful special places and a source of inspiration. The dresses inspired by the Princesse Grace Rose Garden were made up of dozens of carefully sewn silk organza roses, each with a delicately embellished rose bud.
ML: Can all women be feminine or do you have to wear the right clothes?
IK: Absolutely. I have always loved a woman’s shape. My first inspiration 25 years ago in London was Jessica Rabbit, a cartoon character, but I loved her voluptuous body. Women should be comfortable with themselves in their bodies whether they are one shape or another and I design clothes that bring out the individuality of the woman.
ML: Best piece of advice from another female?
IK: The best piece of advice I think I ever received was from my grandmother. She and I were very close and I used to spend everyday with her after school eating Danish pastries and playing cards. She was quite a character and never left the house without a hat. She taught me to be strong willed and believe in what one can achieve. At that time in Denmark people would always laugh at me when I said one day I would be a designer and live and work in London, the South of France and all over the world. With her advice, I believed in my dream and now I am sitting in Monaco with you.
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READ ALSO: The Women of Monaco Life, A Series: Anette ShineREAD ALSO: The Women of Monaco Life, A Series: Laurie and Sandie GiacobiArticle first published November 14, 2016.
The website, in French and English, addresses questions about LEDs, the subsidy scheme for solar panels and thermal regulation. Information documents for the general public, adapted to the specificities of the Principality, have been published and will regularly be enriched with new topics, the Government says.
[caption id="attachment_26265" align="alignnone" width="640"] Daniela and Thierry Boutsen, Boutsen Aviation with Eric Brundage, Publisher Monaco Life, and Hugo Campbell Davys from Urbanologie. Photo: David Dyson/Investor Media[/caption]
On Thursday, December 7, prominent representatives from Family Offices and the yacht investment community came together to toast the winter season at BAFTA 195 Piccadilly.
The annual invitation-only event fosters productive business exchange and celebrates Monaco in London. The evening was held in partnership with the Monaco Economic Board and was supported by a number of notable Monaco-based and global businesses, including BlockEx, AM Yacht Design, Silver Arrows Marine, Thirty-Nine Monte Carlo, Edmiston, Icon Gold Fund and BASYCS Switzerland.
[caption id="attachment_26264" align="alignnone" width="640"] Justin Highman, Monaco Invest, Monaco Economic Board with Xavier Calloc'h, Investor Media. Photo: David Dyson/Investor Media[/caption]
The event kicked off with opening remarks by the Monaco Economic Board, who shared their mission to help companies grow their business in Monaco. Other speakers represented an array of perspectives on the wealth of business and leisure resources on offer in Monaco, from the latest on innovative luxury motor yachts to an exclusive sports club, whose programming is inspired by the principles of sporting excellence and a holistic lifestyle.
Some 100 attendees enjoyed Tattinger champagne while reading Investor Media’s newly released bi-monthly magazines: Family Office Investor and Yacht Investor. The magazines are distributed internationally, and spotlight topics relating to investment trends, luxury lifestyle and travel, and the arts and culture.
[caption id="attachment_26298" align="alignnone" width="640"] Samantha Bohbot L&X, Lilly Zhang from Intellium Advisory and Lauren Xandra, L&X. Photo: David Dyson/Investor Media[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_26290" align="alignnone" width="640"] Artist Rodolfo Villaplana and Investor Media's Servanne Sohier.Photo: David Dyson/Investor Media[/caption]
The cocktail, which ended after 10 pm, showcased an artistic display of glassworks by Lalique, as well as paintings by Rodolfo Villaplana, winner of the Young Masters Prize, and Mark Dziewulski. Dziewulski’s paintings travelled directly from the Venice Biennale to BAFTA, which his representation office, Lauren Xandra of luxury marketing firm L&X, remarked to be “a location which truly reflects the rich cultural heart of London”.
Xavier Calloc’h, CEO of Investor Media, expressed his gratitude to the Monaco Economic Board and the “great success of the event with guests attending from around the world and delighted sponsors.”
[gallery td_select_gallery_slide="slide" size="large" ids="26258,26260,26262,26259,26263"]
Images courtesy of David Dyson/Investor Media.Article first published December 11, 2017.
[caption id="attachment_22130" align="alignnone" width="640"] Photo: Twitter @namirasalim[/caption]
A high-level conference and interactive exhibit, "(Zero Gravity) 0G Summit – Space Diplomacy in the Age of NewSpace" announced its mission to make Space the New Frontier for Peace during the prestigious 2017 Concordia Annual Summit, on the sidelines of the General Debate of the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly on September 19.
Monaco resident Namira Salim co-chaired the Summit, her brainchild, which is the lead initiative of her non-profit, nonpartisan organisation, Space Trust. The event was co-chaired, moderated and hosted by Dr Lance Bush, President & CEO of Challenger Center.
“This year's 0G Summit dialogue reinforced the importance of the space industry and the benefits it offers to citizens around the globe," said Dr. Bush. "To ensure the industry continues to innovate at a high level, it is critical that we all work to inspire today's students to pursue space and other STEM-related careers."
Namira is internationally renowned as the first (future) Space Tourist from South Asia, Middle East and Monaco to go to space aboard Virgin Galactic—the first private space-line of the world. Sir Richard Branson, Chairman Virgin Group, personally introduced Namira to the world press in Dubai in 2006, as one of the earliest Founders of Virgin Galactic.
"As spacefaring and new space nations expand cooperation via human and robotic missions, the world is on the verge of ushering Space 'Shuttle' Diplomacy," said Namira Salim. "So, why not open space to world leaders and politicians to utilize the orbit for sustainable peacemaking and conflict resolution on earth?"
0G Summit 2030 is being observed by United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and was presented this past February in Vienna at the 54th Session of the Scientific and Technical Sub-Committee of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS).
The (Zero Gravity) 0G Summit, has been advocating the first peace summit in orbit by 2030. The International Space Station has become a beacon for international cooperation in space—where future commercial space stations in orbit by the mid-2020s could serve as a concrete platform for convenings in zero gravity.
Namira is an avid promoter of Private Spaceflight, the new age of space exploration and a keen advocate of peaceful uses of Space. She has undertaken pioneering peace expeditions to all three poles of the world, and is the first Pakistani and first woman from Monaco and the UAE to have reached the North and South Poles in 2007/08, as well as the first Asian to skydive (tandem) over Mount Everest in 2008.
Namira holds a Master of International Affairs from Columbia University. She is a regular speaker at top space industry events and UN Conferences and has held official peace-themed exhibitions during the United Nations General Assembly in New York, UNESCO's Executive Board in Paris and OIC Day at UNESCO and several events under the Patronage of Royalty from Monaco and Dubai. Namira has served as an Honorary Ambassador for Pakistan and Honorary Consul in the Principality of Monaco, where she has been based for 20 years.
[caption id="attachment_3777" align="alignleft" width="960"] Photo: Twitter @RealLeeNelson[/caption]
Pranksters have hoisted a large sign on to the bow of Sir Philip Green’s £100 million superyacht renaming it “BHS Destroyer” following the demise of the familiar high street chain in disturbing circumstances.
Comedian Lee Nelson and friends posted a series of pictures of them sailing to the yacht in Port Hercule on a speedboat to attach the sign. Nelson, whose real name is Simon Brodkin, later tweeted: “Good of Sir Philip Green to rename his £100 million yacht to something more appropriate. I was glad to help.”
Sir Philip Green’s Lionheart is one of three superyachts in his collection. BHS’s collapse in April affected 11,000 jobs, 22,000 pensions, sparked a parliamentary inquiry and left its high-profile former owners potentially facing a criminal investigation, the UK daily Sun reported.
In March 2015, BHS was sold for £1 by Arcadia Group chairman Sir Philip Green to former bankrupt Dominic Chappell, who in turn called in the receivers in May. There have been a number of calls for Sir Philip, whose wife Tina is a resident of Monaco, to be stripped of his honour.
Nelson also made headlines in June when he appeared at a press conference at the Trump Turnberry resort in Scotland, where he offered the Republican Presidential candidate a pair Nazi-designed golf balls. “The new balls are available from the clubhouse as part of a new Trump Turnberry range,” Mediaite.com reported the comedian saying.