Buzz Worthy

Is Interior Design the New Frontier of Fashion?

Fancy yourself some Fendi furniture or Hermès throw pillows?

As someone who’s never shopped for furniture, I’m probably not the most astute authority to have a heightened conversation about Kylie Jenner’s couch. But I shall now do exactly that by the power vested upon me by the Internet.

And boy, what a couch. It’s the couch to end all couches. Plush and minimal, spotlessly grey and perfectly gargantuan, it’s the Kardashian equivalent of couches, if there were one. So, of course, it makes total sense that not one, but two Kardashian-Jenners count themselves among its proud owners – Kendall alongside Kylie.

The best part? The lavish number is courtesy of good old Restoration Hardware (RH), the very place we’ve been getting our side tables, shelving, and sconces from practically forever. However, Kylie’s particular piece, formerly part of the brand’s Cloud® Sofa collection, is likely to set you back more than $10,000.

It was, therefore, only a matter of time before TikTok’s dupe culture got wind of the Internet’s obsession with all grey things that require sitting on, and soon enough, Cloud Couch lookalikes were floating all across the webosphere. 

Restoration Hardware Cloud Couch
The Restoration Hardware Cloud Couch

If that sounds vaguely familiar, cast your mind to earlier this year when the Internet was in fits finding dupes for another Kardashian-favorite, The Row’s Margaux bag. Clearly, the interior design industry is no less immune to the cycling of trends (luxurious, neutral, and understated – know what I’m talking about?) than fashion is. Or are we in the midst of a convergence between the two?

Let’s investigate.

Living in Style, Quite Literally

At this point, of course, it is a surprise to no one that the business of living has such deep-seated ties with the business of style, which in turn is influenced by pop culture. And I have one word to say about Jacob Elordi’s Saltburn bathwater-scented soy candles. Okay, that’s seven words.

My point is that we’ve been buying $5 H&M candles and $950 Loewe doorstops for long enough to not question how deep the ties between the two go. The pioneer in this regard, however, was Pierre Cardin, whose Sculptures Utilitaires (1977) haute couture furniture was the first to bridge the gap between style and lifestyle, bringing Cardin’s signature futuristic vision for ready-to-wear onto the realm of homeware.

But it was really Ralph Lauren who took the idea mainstream with the launch of Ralph Lauren Home in 1983, a range that remains darling to the rich to this day for the designer’s expansive lineup of furniture, lighting, fine China, crystal, silverware, and bed and bath linens. Fendi followed suit in 1987 with Fendi Casa, Versace Home in 1992, and Armani Casa in 2000, which came quickly thereafter. 

By the turn of the century, the LBD had come to mean “Little Black Dress” almost as much as it stood for “Lovely Big Duvet.” Meanwhile, interior styling opened up a whole new frontier – albeit largely uncharted – for heritage houses to experiment with, as more designers, from Alessandro Michele’s wildly maximal Gucci Décor in 2017 to Karl Lagerfeld’s monochrome spin on the Hotel Métropole Monte-Carlo’s pool, keeping the industry perpetually abuzz among the fashion set.

Gucci Decor
Gucci Decor by Alessandro Michele

And Then There was COVID…

While this trend towards home goods continued in some capacity across the 2010s—H&M Home launched in 2009, Louis Vuitton dabbled in the Objets Nomades furniture collection in 2012, Moda Operandi Home came into being in 2018, and the first Maison Dior boutique opened its doors to the public in 2019—its biggest impetus came in the form of pandemic-induced lockdowns.

Think about it—when stuck at home for unspecified stretches of time, you might as well decorate it, too. Thus, like 2013, the year of the selfie, 2020 became the year of the “shelfie,” which, imaginatively enough, concerns shelves.

But it wasn’t just shelves—demand for Diptyque candles grew by 536% in the UK following the first weeks of lockdown, and by November, Net-a-Porter, Farfetch, and MatchesFashion had all introduced lifestyle and homeware categories to their sites.

Loewe Milan Salone 2023
The Loewe Design Exhibit at the Salone de Mobile 2023.

Plus, the newfound online strategy served as the perfect alternative for labels previously apprehensive of selling haute handbags and haute duvet covers within the same floor space. So, while Dolce & Gabbana stuck to the traditional fashion show format for all of its goodies – its Alta Moda 2021 show in Venice featured couture, ceramics, and furniture side-by-side – others were increasingly drawn to the idea of Salone de Mobile, the “Milan Fashion Week” of fittings and furnishings.

In prominent display? Cartier cushions, Loro Piana bowls, Monsieur Dior armchairs, Loewe throw pillows, Marni tableware, and, to top it all off, pretty much anything and everything by Hermès.

The Ecosystem of Luxury Lifestyle Branding

On its website, Ralph Lauren Home states, “Since 1967, our distinctive brand image has been consistently developed across an expanding number of products, price tiers, and markets.” The subtext? “If you like our polos and pants, you’ll probably buy the chairs and candlesticks too.”

And that’s an art Hermès, who’s been in the homeware game for longer than most of its contemporaries, has been able to perfect exceedingly well over the years. So much so, in fact, that it can allegedly force you into buying its home goods and other ancillary knick-knacks before you’re “Birkin material,” as the recent California Court lawsuit seems to allege.

Birkin 2011
Could the key to a Birkin be a $10,000 Hermès bicycle?

But while the specifics of the case itself remain open to debate, it does imply – as Michael Tonello, author of the 2008 bestseller Bringing Home the Birkin: My Life in Hot Pursuit of the World’s Most Coveted Handbag, further opines – that the Birkin is “positioned as a reward for being a good customer” for people who “buy all that other stuff that, pretty much, people don’t buy at Hermès.”

Ultimately, whether we really want that $45,000 Hermès trash can or not, haute interiors and high fashion have come to share a symbiotic relationship that transcends the typically transient nature of trends. After all, you can probably overhaul your wardrobe next season. Your entire home, though? Not so much.

And as living conditions today only get more uncertain, this semblance of permanence comforts shoppers, even if to the slightest degree.

featured image via @cassdimicco

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SonShownu
SonShownu
18 days ago

i think, fashion brands need just stay at fashion. and let the furniture brands make the furniture. Because the price from the fashion brans sure gonna be no no, while their style sometimes just too much.

Passerine
Passerine
18 days ago

At $10k and above for a sectional sofa, I would look at some other brands in roughly the same price range. Roche Bobois, Poltrona Frau, B&B Italia, Rolf Benz, BW Bielefelder Werkstätten etc. We plan to get a new sectional from Roche Bobois later this year and it’s about the same price as the Restoration Hardware sofa, but IMO, better quality. FWIW, we looked at the Fendi Casa store in Milan but the sectional we liked was priced around 25k.

Megs Mahoney Dusil
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Megs Mahoney Dusil
18 days ago
Reply to  Passerine

We purchased the Cloud couch and hated it! I have heard they have updated it to be more firm now, but our version offered little support and looked really disheveled until we decided to spruce it up ourselves.

Paris
Paris
16 days ago

Did you try it before you bought it? Or, if you did was it different when you received it? I recently went shopping for a sectional & bought from Amish Furniture. It wasn’t on my list, but I went in out of curiosity. They were having a sale so the price was amazing and the sofa was extremely comfortable!

Anyway, to the point of the article I have been a long term (10+ years) customer of Hermes. I am subject to the same ridiculous terms re: buying other items that I wouldn’t have purchased, but for the fact that I wanted a Birkin. These are the rules to buy a Birkin, but I also understand other ppl being offered one with little to no purchase history. It’s ridiculously subjective; I’ve come to the point that I no longer want to be tied to their games.

charlottawill
charlottawill
17 days ago

And when you’re older you can’t get out of it lol.

Megs Mahoney Dusil
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Megs Mahoney Dusil
17 days ago
Reply to  charlottawill

I don’t know how I forgot to mention that! I could barely escape it, but my parents or anyone else who came over STRUGGLED! It was terrible!

Kristin Brook
Kristin Brook
18 days ago
Reply to  Passerine

+1 for RocheBobois. My favorite furniture company!

charlottawill
charlottawill
17 days ago
Reply to  Kristin Brook

There’s a reason they’ve been around for decades.