As the CEO of Austyle Distribution, a company that imports Australian fashion brands into the Middle East, 31-year-old Ivana Bruic has a pretty enviable wardrobe in her three-bedroom penthouse in Limestone House, DIFC, that she shares with her adorable French bulldog, Pooch. Brimming with designer bags and shoes from a dazzling array of brands, the Australian admits that when it comes to clothing, two labels in particular hold her heart. “It’s a definite tie between Zimmermann and Dolce & Gabbana for the brands that occupy the most space in my wardrobe. If I had to choose one to live in for the rest of my life, it would be Zimmermann. It’s so effortlessly feminine and classic with an edge that sets it apart from other labels.” What about when it comes to her many bags? “I’m not very loyal when it comes to my handbags! I swap them around several times a day, depending on my activity. I love using large handbags, like the Gucci bamboo shopper or my Louis Vuitton ‘Neverfull’, during business hours as they’re super-practical.” We spy a particularly pretty pink Chanel lego clutch among her collection. “This was a limited edition version and it was given to me as a gift but I am too scared to use it because it’s so delicate, so it’s more of a display piece,” she laughs.
Speaking of display pieces, Ivana has several cool items scattered around her open-plan living space. One in particular is the vintage typewriter that sits on her bookshelf. “I bought this from a second-hand market in London. I find reading and writing both very therapeutic so it symbolises my passion for literature.” What is she reading at the moment? “#GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso. I like reading biographies and I’m particularly inspired by women who have built fashion empires.”
Another statement piece is the authentic warrior helmet on display in the living room. “This is an original piece sourced from Afghanistan. I love the detail of the coloured fabric up against the metal casing,” she explains.
Colour is a key feature in the penthouse, something Ivana tells us is deliberate. “It’s a bit of a Moroccan themed playground in here. The bright highlight pieces, like the throws, pillows and cubes, are balanced out by masculine elements, such as the chunky, wooden furniture items and boxing bag. I don’t ever buy anything that I’m not in love with as I need to be able to envisage how the piece is going to fi t into the space, and the value it will bring the feel of the room.” Case in point, the two cupped hands that sit on a large, wooden coffee table were bought in Morocco. “They’re carved from heavy marbled stone and represent the Hand of Fatima and femininity, they are referred to as the ‘woman’s holy hands’,” Ivana explains.
Many of the pieces throughout the home were purchased locally. Her favourite homewares stores, she tells Bazaar, are “Marina Home and THE One”, where she currently has her eye on her next purchase: “A mirrored glass cube table that will look great with an orchid sitting on top beside a stack of books.” The many candles she has scattered around are from Australia. “I’m a big fan of Atelier Lumira candles from Sydney. They create a sense of serenity and are simply divine.”
Living in the penthouse means Ivana’s apartment is privy to breathtaking views of Downtown Dubai’s ever-evolving skyline. “The balcony runs the length of the apartment and is one of the things I love most about living here. I like to eat breakfast out there and sometimes enjoy a cup of tea in the early evening as I watch the sun set.”Her other favourite spot in the apartment is the open-plan kitchen and living room. “A spacious kitchen is the first thing I look for in a home. Open spaces have a nice energy flow. I really enjoy entertaining and I’ll often host dinner parties and networking breakfasts here.”
With Valentine’s Day approaching, does she have a go-to look for date nights? “I’m a big fan of classic pieces,” she begins. “I’d say my typical look would be a pair of pointed Louboutins, a leather pencil skirt and a well-fitted T-shirt.”
As we leave, Bazaar asks which Australian brands we should watch out for in future seasons. “FELLA Swim is a sophisticated, up-and-coming swimwear label. Also, Nicola Finetti, which will be available in the region from A/W15, and the pieces are stunning.” As the authority on Down Under dressing, we’ll take her word for it.
Styling by Charlotte Blair. Words by Maddison Glendinning. Photography by Aasiya Jagadeesh. This article first appeared in the February 2015 issue of Harper's Bazaar Arabia