Ever wonder what Karl Lagerfeld’s world would look like if he could design more than just the clothes in it? Well, you’re about to find out. Kaiser Karl has gone and done it–he’s designed his own island. Not content to rule just the world of fashion the celebrated designer, in collaboration with Miami’s Oppenheim firm, has rolled out plans for a man-made island twenty kilometres off the coast of Dubai dubbed, quite fittingly, Isla Moda or Fashion Island. The project, backed by the KOR Hotel Group and spanning 1.2 million square feet, will feature 150 luxury villas and three hotels. Word of this project first spread in 2008, but after the bubble burst the project seemed to go quiet. Now, with plans for the futuristic-looking buildings being revealed, it appears that Karl’s island is still a go after all.
While backers of this project are very clearly marketing the island as the absolute ultimate in exclusive luxury travel, the question remains whether this is actually the case. More and more often we’ve seen examples of companies with little to no experience in the travel industry—whether it be luxury villa rentals or how to go about delivering on a client’s needs once they’re ensconced on your property—trying to get in the game. Just one example of this is the luxury destination clubs that have been going bankrupt as of late. The vast majority of these are not run by people with any real tangible experience in the luxury vacation industry, and while members are expected to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in initiation fees and membership dues they often find, upon arriving at their luxury villa property of choice, that they are not always getting what they thought they paid for.
For one, while some of these clubs offer certain concierge services they are not up to par with onsite the five-star VillaHotel services you will find if you choose the correct luxury villa rentals run by those with a long history in the travel industry. One wonders if Karl’s island will suffer the same fate. While attaching the name of the world famous designer to the project is an ingenious idea it also begs the question what, if anything, Karl Lagerfeld knows about luxury villas or travel. While renderings of the designs have begun to emerge it is still unclear what types of services visitors to Isla Moda can expect and whether they will stack up to the expectations of the most discerning traveler or whether this island is more style than substance.
Slated to be ready by 2014, the island was apparently inspired by “the floating palaces of India, and the modern day equivalent the cruise ship,” according to Archiscene.net. Rather than calling to mind a Maharaja’s palace, however, the designs seem to reference futuristic movies like Gattaca instead. They are also miles away from the style of one of Lagerfeld’s preferred vacation destinations as of late: St. Tropez. The designer not only staged Chanel’s most recent resort show in the town known for its glittering nightlife and luxury villa rentals, but was photographed vacationing there this summer as well. One wonders if Karl himself will be vacationing at Isla Moda when it’s finally launched or if he will turn back to the tried and true St. Tropez instead.