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THEY may hail from Europe, the US or even Korea, but upscale luxury brands are not above embracing Merlion emblems or orchid prints to fete Singapore's jubilee year. Just as every other fast-moving consumer good from colas to fishcakes have jumped on the SG50 bandwagon, posh products are also undergoing a localised remake.
French fashion house Louis Vuitton, for one, has created a special line of just nine Petite Malle bags using alligator leather dyed and hand-finished by homegrown tannery and leather company Heng Long. LVMH, the luxury group that owns Louis Vuitton, bought the company in 2011.
Christopher Kilaniotis, president of Louis Vuitton South Asia, explains: "This exceptional creation, a tribute to our long-standing relationship with Singapore, brings together the best in both French and Singaporean savoir faire and craftsmanship."
For many brands, this milestone year spells a momentous marketing opportunity. As such, designer labels have either reinvented classic styles with a local touch or created special pieces to reflect the nation's heritage, which will hopefully become coveted collectibles for those in the know. Luxury pen brand Montblanc, for example, has launched a limited-edition range of Meisterstuck White Solitaire writing instruments and Star Classique timepieces for SG50.
The items are displayed at Ngee Ann City Civic Plaza Level 1 Atrium together with artworks by students of Pathlight School. Proceeds from the sale of the limited-edition merchandise will be donated to the school's Poor and Needy Fund.
"Montblanc's philosophy is to create heirlooms that emanate classic heritage and refined creation," says Andreas Boesch, managing director of Montblanc South-east Asia.
"These heirlooms will subsequently become part of your unique heritage. With the Singapore Special Edition Collection, it unites fine European craftsmanship with time-honoured designs. That holds true to Singapore as a nation and Montblanc as a brand."
Luxury lovers are also treated to a series of unique events by their favourite international labels in conjunction with SG50. German sports car giant Porsche held a celebratory event at the Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre last month for Singapore's 50th birthday as well as the 10th anniversary of its official dealer here, Stuttgart Auto.
The Porsche Circuit included hawker-style food, a charity auction which raised US$109,000 for the Sportcares Foundation, and the launch of two SG50 editions of its signature models: a 911 Turbo S SG50 custom-built for Singapore, and 10 editions of the Cayenne SG50 Exclusive Edition. The 911 Turbo S SG50, the only of its kind, was sold at the event for over $1 million. It has a red and white scheme, a storage compartment lid emblazoned with the "SG50" logo, and door sill guards adorned with the words, "911 Turbo S SG50 Custom-built for Singapore".
Local connoisseurs of life's finer things can also keep time in patriotic fashion with Hublot. From Aug 16 to 26, the Swiss watchmaker will be unveiling its largest-ever pop-up space at Ngee Ann City Civic Plaza to commemorate the 10th-year anniversary of the company's signature Big Bang watch, as well as National Day.
The 7m-tall, 1,050 sq m space will showcase exclusive limited editions by the brand, as well as a set of limited-edition timepieces exclusive to Singapore, christened the Hublot "Red Dot" Bang by Singaporean playwright Michael Chiang.
"The term 'Little Red Dot' came about after our country was dismissed once as nothing more than 'a little red dot', yet here we are celebrating our nation's 50th," says Mr Chiang, a friend of the brand whose input contributed to the conceptualising of the special edition watch. "Indeed such a name is befitting of this very special timepiece created by Hublot for our country, the red '10' index that appears to be a 'little red dot' on the watch face."
The creation of such exclusive merchandise, some with price tags equivalent to that of a small HDB flat, is perhaps indicative of the spending power of the Singaporean luxury consumer.
"MCM has a very loyal customer base here in Singapore, and with such a huge heartfelt celebration looming, we felt it was only right that we help our customers commemorate 50 years of independence," Lilian Hwang, managing director of Atelier Groupe, the official franchisee of MCM in Singapore.
The German-founded, Korean-owned leather goods brand has created a line of pouches, passport holders and charms with a lion motif. A limited run of 800 items are available exclusively in Singapore.
Adds Ms Hwang: "MCM has produced limited-edition and exclusive collections across the region which have always resonated very well with our consumers, but the MCM x SG50 collection is the first time a collection was designed specifically for a National Day celebration."
‘Red Dot’ Bang , S$36,600 (in ‘Hublonium’, a magnesium and aluminium alloy) and S$66,400 (yellow gold), by Hublot
The 44mm Big Bang is produced in a limited edition of 50 pieces in the brand's special alloy metal, tying it back to Singapore's jubilee year. Ten versions in yellow gold are available. The watch features a skeletonised chronograph movement and is paired with an aged leather strap on rubber.
Crystal Myriad Merlion figurine, S$4,800, by Swarovski
The mythical creature is embellished with 15,793 crystals in various shades. Swarovski artisans spent 83 hours hand-setting the crystals and 23 hours handcrafting the base. It is available exclusively here in a limited edition of 20 pieces.
SG50 collection, from S$350 for a lion mascot bag charm, by MCM
The German luxury label favoured by K-Pop royalty launches a commemorative collection of pouches, passport holders and collectible charms only available in Singapore. The 800 pieces are embellished with a fiery-maned lion mascot.
Cayenne SG50 Exclusive Edition for Singapore, S$450,000, by Porsche
The commemorative model is limited to 10 editions and includes distinctive SG50 design elements: Its illuminated door sill guards in stainless steel come with a “Cayenne SG50 Exclusive Edition for Singapore” logo, and the front and rear head restraints are also embossed with the SG50 logo, paying tribute to Singapore’s 50th birthday.
Meisterstück White Solitaire Singapore Special Edition, from S$1,190, by Montblanc
The line of 500 pieces comprises a fountain pen, rollerball and ballpoint pen with caps and barrels in precious white lacquer and red gold fittings. The forepart of the writing instruments is engraved with the city’s skyline, while the gold nib of the fountain pen is elegantly embossed with the lion’s head and the “SG 50” symbol.
Star Classique Singapore Special Edition timepiece, $13,000, by Montblanc
Limited to 50 editions, the watch has a white mother-of-pearl dial with Arabic numerals, and red gold-plated feuille hour and minute hands. The small second dial features the lion’s head, the symbol introduced by the government in 1986 to capture Singapore’s reputation as the Lion City. “SG 50” is inscribed below the lion, while a sapphire crystal back pane features Singapore’s skyline.
Miss Dior Blooming Bouquet SG50 Limited Edition, S$182 for 100ml, by Dior
Six limited-edition bottle designs of the iconic Dior scent have been launched this month, designed by the house’s own glass artist. The special bottles feature local sights such as Marina Bay Sands and the Merlion and a design inspired by our national flower, the Vanda Miss Joaquim.
Limited edition Tambour Escale Worldtime watch, S$90,500, by Louis Vuitton
The 41mm-wide watch took 50 hours to craft, includes a large exterior double-layered disc with our city-state’s initials, and the words “Louis Vuitton Singapore” engraved on the oscillating weight – which can be viewed through the sapphire crystal at the back of the case of the timepiece.
Limited Edition Crocodile Brilliant Rouge, S$48,800, by Louis Vuitton
Only nine of these exotic-skinned, box trunk-inspired beauties have been created. As part of the Singapore Jubilee celebrations, Louis Vuitton will also be showcasing the craftsmanship behind the Petite Malle at its Marina Bay Sands Island Maison from now till August 16.