HBA: How did you start Lana Marks?
LM: My husband and I were invited on the Queen of England’s Yacht Britannia to celebrate her birthday in 1984. I was going to wear a wonderful red and purple suit and wanted a red alligator handbag to go with it.
After looking up and down Worth Avenue in Florida’s Palm Beach I still couldn’t find one to match my tastes and realised that a void existed at the very high end of the handbag market for the finest exotic leathers in fabulous colours (I was very aware of fine exotic leathers as I was born and raised in South Africa with its fabulous ostrich and crocodile industry). It was then that I decided to launch the Lana Marks brand.
Constellation Cleopatra Clutch with diamonds, Dhs330,000, Lana Marks
HBA: Can you tell us about the bejeweled Cleopatra creations and why you decided to feature gemstones?
LM: I was traveling to Los Angeles on business years ago and saw a magazine with Elizabeth Taylor in the role of Cleopatra. I decided it was a wonderful name for a handbag, particularly as I had met and designed for her already. The Cleopatra Clutch was originally designed for A-List stars attending the Academy Awards, and is handcrafted in northern Italy by highly skilled artistans.
I had designed elaborate handcrafted bags with gemstones for many clients and received incredible feedback from them, so I decided that the Cleopatra Clutch would be the perfect bag to be adorned with gems such as rare natural pink diamonds and other precious stones (we even have a design that comes with blue diamonds, which are amongst the rarest gemstones of all). Our stones come from all over the world and are of the very best quality and cut.
Cleopatra Clutch in green alligator and emeralds, Dhs587,200, Lana Marks
HBA: What is your favourite gemstone?
LM: It has to be diamond. I particularly love them in rare colours such as natural pinks or blues, and also in the finest whites.
HBA: Why did you decide to open a boutique at Atlantis and why is the Middle East important to you?
LM: For over 30 years we have assisted so many fabulous families and clients from the Middle East at our stores in the United States, and we are well aware that 30 percent of couture clients now come from the region. So it was a natural choice to open a Lana Marks boutique here, especially as Atlantis is such a luxury shoppping destination.
Cleopatra Clutch in purple alligator and rubies, Dhs513,800, Lana Marks
HBA: Which Lana Marks bags have been most popular in the Middle East so far?
LM: Both the Diamond Heart Princess Diana Tophandle and bejeweled Cleopatra Clutch have been in particularly high demand in Dubai. But our VIP clients generally collect Lana Marks bags in many different colour and gemstone combinations.
HBA: What’s next for Lana Marks?
LM: I want to continue growing the label so that we become a recognised name worldwide in luxury fashion. So we are planning to open additional stores in Dubai in time for Expo 2020, as well as launching in India, France and Brazil and opening further boutiques in the US. It is all very exciting.