Obscure objects of desire

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Open the door to the Cabinet de Curiosités at Browns this week, and step into a world of rarefied luxury

As any weary shopper will know, the benefit of a new pair of eyes or an expert's gaze is invaluable.

Wouldn't we all have personal stylists if we could afford one? Imagine then having not only your shopping basket but also your wardrobe, art collection, interiors and even summer holiday curated by the best in the business. This is what a new installation, unveiled this week at fashion store Browns, aims to do, just in time for Christmas.

The "Cabinet de Curiosités" is historically a Renaissance concept, describing the comprehensive collections of objets d'art from all walks of life cultivated by discerning gents of the era. But this latest interpretation, the brainchild of fashion consultant and sophisticate Thomas Erber, started out in the cognoscenti's favourite Parisian haunt, the boutique Colette, which boasts an eclectic mash-up of high-end fashion and cartoonish counter-culture. It's a project that brings together the best of almost anything you could ask, overseen by Erber himself and available to buy in limited editions as part of the Browns showcase.

"One day, I had this idea," he explains, "I should make a contemporary cabinet of curiosities including all the fields I was passionate and curious about, to offer a new sort of visibility to all the designers, artists and brands that I was in love with." Erber is something of a latter-day Renaissance man himself, and fits the role of a jet-setting connoisseur. He worked across fashion and travel journalism, helping to launch the French style magazines Jalouse and L'Optimum, as well as L'Officiel Voyage, before becoming editor of Le Monde's lifestyle section and contributing to Vogue Hommes. Subtle and well-earned cachet and credentials? Erber has both in spades.

He has also collaborated and consulted with names such as Chanel, Cartier and Boucheron, and has used the Cabinet de Curiosités as a means of showcasing the work of brands and designers that he considers craftsmen and -women.

"Isn't it magic?" he asks, charismatic and erudite. "To make fashion live beside music, beside high-end watch-making, beside literature, beside jewels, beside contemporary art. Everything is coherent and exciting, with real meaning."

Although many of the pieces require a suitable Renaissance prince-ly fortune (a stainless-steel dressing table by London-based craftsman Paul Kelley comes in at £54,000), there are plenty of accessible treats within the selection. A chic marl grey T-shirt designed by Erber as a memento of the project is £45, while candles and leather notebooks bear the Cabinet de Curiosités monogram. There is also an exhibition within the range of photographers whom Erber holds dear, such as Seal and John Pepper, as well as travel suggestions for the more intrepid shopper – a family road trip across Uruguay, or a safari in Namibia, one of the countries that will benefit from the charitable proceeds of the project.

"It's a true experience of quality, craftsmanship and a sense of passion, that we hope the customer will be able to share," explains Browns' creative director, Caroline Burstein, of what will constitute the store's Christmas displays. Customers will be handed a map with which they can discover some of the magical pieces Erber has selected and placed around the store. "And last but not least, 10 per cent of all proceeds go to Thomas's chosen charities, who work on conservation and community in Namibia, a cause close to his heart."

"It's real teamwork," Erber adds, "not an ego trip. It's a generous and honest attempt to redefine luxury in a world that seems to be a little bit confused about everything. Luxury is not a supermarket. I've always hated having the same bag as my neighbour, so I've spent my entire life trying to find a different one."

With labels such as Pierre Hardy, Kitsuné, Manolo Blahnik and Rodarte signed up, there's certainly something for every taste.

Browns and Thomas Erber's 'Cabinet de Curiosités' launches on Wednesday; brownsfashion.com

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

    £40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

    £35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

    Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

    Recruitment Genius: Trainee Hire Manager - Tool Hire

    £21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is seeking someone w...

    Day In a Page

    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
    Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

    Why are we addicted to theme parks?

    Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
    Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

    Iran is opening up again to tourists

    After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
    10 best PS4 games

    10 best PS4 games

    Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
    Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

    Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

    Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
    Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

    ‘Can we really just turn away?’

    Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

    ... and not just because of Isis vandalism
    Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

    Girl on a Plane

    An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent