Architecture Highlight: Villa Moda

Completed all the way back in 2003, the Villa Moda department store in the Free Trade Zone was way ahead of its time. The building still stands there today but isn’t currently being used although a few years ago I heard a TV station or newspaper was going to take it over.

The owner of Villa Moda was the fashion entrepreneur, Sheikh Majed Al-Sabah who had a vision for a state-of-the-art retail experience. The exterior was designed by Italian architect Pierfrancesco Cravel who came up with the idea of creating the giant glass shell that mimicked the shipping containers in the port nearby. The 12-meter high steel poles in front of the building represented ship masts while sails were used in the parking lot to protect vehicles from the sun.

When Tyler Brûlé, the founder of Wallpaper* magazine heard Sheikh Majed was developing a new department store for luxury brands in Kuwait, he recommended he work with the London based interior designers Eldridge Smerin.

Eldridge Smerin were responsible for the design of Villa Moda’s main entrance area and lounge, public spaces and staircases, two levels of multi-brand fashion space, restaurant and café managed by @capriceholdingsrestaurants, as well as the landscaping around the building.

Villa Moda opened its doors in 2003 housing brands like Gucci, Prada, Bottega Veneta, Salvatore Ferragamo, Fendi, Etro and more. The total duration of the project from conceptual design to construction completion was impressively, less than a year.

For more photos of Villa Moda click here.

The original Villa Moda is still standing and was also ahead of its time (pictured below). The original Villa Moda was located on the Gulf Road opposite where Chilis used to be. Not sure when it opened but I remember going there back in the 90s.

Update: This post has been updated with more precise information. Also the Villa Moda building has now been demolished.

24 replies on “Architecture Highlight: Villa Moda”

I used to love going to Villa Moda, it was such a cool building to be in and their 50% sales were really something

I still can’t understand what caused it to completely shutdown, if anyone knows?

Never ever any counterfeit product entered in Villa Moda, I was the one who was responsible for receiving the goods from all the brands.
Once there was some story spreaded by some people but that was not truth.

Anyhow we miss Villa Moda so much.

I heard they were selling counterfeit products, and their discounted sales were a way of getting rid of those products. They were also specifically selling originals to western expats and counterfeits to locals (the reason being that locals wouldn’t notice and western expats could travel to other countries and have those products authenticated). I guess they were eventually caught and had to cease operations. Since then, there’s been standalone stores for those specific brands that they were selling unlike how they were the only ones that sold those brands.

Obviously they were NOT selling counterfeit products, it was just a stupid rumor. Villa Moda was a department store that was composed of different official retailers. So anyone saying Villa Moda was selling counterfeit products was basically saying the official Gucci or Prada stores were selling counterfeit products which is ridiculous.

That story of selling counterfeit goods is definitely false like Mark stated. I never bought that story because it made 0 sense

I remember you once put about that, Mark, that they sold to a Dubai firm but I didn’t know the 2008 financial crisis caused things to go bad. That sucks

I remember that cafe had a promotion that if you came there wearing black clothes you’d get a 50% discount(?). There was also another Villa Moda branch at the old Kout Mall in Fahaheel that got torn down.

What happened to Sheikh Majed he used to be active on instagram but disappeared a few years ago, I miss his Instagram stories when he went to Cairo.

I really liked the original location, that was next to the old Mais Al Ghanam Restaurant on Gulf Road. It was more intimate and exclusive. The Free Zone location was really cool design.
I think they tried to open a branch in Fahahel Al-Kout – not so cool.

I remember my uncle working on this project when I was younger… I never visited this building but the free trade zone had a lot of swanky offices…

Another thing about Villa Moda was that they had a Goyard boutique! Before it really blew up and became famous to most Kuwaitis like it did recently

They also sold Vertus, and I remember the 3rd floor was the outlet and you would always find awesone stuff

Good times

I remember going there when i was a kid, i felt like i was walking into the real world ugly betty and devil wears prada. They should have made a magazine similar to vogue to promote their goods. I did notice the hijabs and niqabs have been on a steep decline since the early 2000s.

Great memories. Thanks Mark and Nasser. I even saw Dolce and Gabana themselves being shown around the Villa Moda in Al Kout by Sheikh Majed. And someone mentioned the sales! Wow, they were amazing. i still have classic pieces from those ‘good old’ days.

Good ol’ days ❤️ spent almost all my Kuwait years working for VillaModa and 360Style, glad to be a part of it 🥰

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