Think of flashy luxurious properties designed in partnership with the world’s most prestigious fashion houses and cities like Shanghai, Hong Kong or Singapore would probably come to mind. Now another city joins this list—Manila. A trio of high-end developments featuring interiors by some of Europe’s most coveted fashion brands is taking the property scene in Manila to new heights.
This triumvirate’s list of fashion brands reads like the highlights of an international fashion week. Hermès is designing the amenity and common areas of the high-powered Trump Tower; Versace is lending its stylish hand to The Milano Residences and the colourful Missoni will be gracing the interiors of Acqua Livingstone.
Driven by the expert hand of Robbie Antonio, Century Properties is developing these fashionable estates that are already taking the city’s elite by storm. Suave, young, chic and a 21st-century renaissance man, Antonio’s global connections amongst the cream of the fashion, entertainment and business worlds would make New York royalty envious. As design officer and project head of luxury developments at Century he oversees these developments and is also responsible for future direction of this aspect of the business.
“Effecting change in the way people live is my personal mantra,” says Antonio. “I love providing people with homes that are distinct. From The Milano Residences and Trump Tower Manila to our newest branded project with MISSONIHOME called Acqua Livingstone, I enjoy creating residences that are above and beyond what we’re used to when it comes to traditional luxury living in a developing country.”
Being in an emerging economy has not been an obstacle for these properties. On the contrary, they are drawing on a hitherto untapped market that was just waiting for something like this to appear. “Manila has always been an exciting place for fashion and design, but the momentum has really taken hold in the last couple of years through the pursuits we have had,” continues Antonio. “People in Manila are hungry for new and exciting projects that place the country on the map, and Century Properties is proud to be leading this movement. The Milano Residences is already over 80 percent sold, and Acqua Livingstone sold 25 percent of the Livingstone Tower in 10 days from its launch at the beginning of March this year.”
Successful fellow countrymen are making up the bulk of these properties’ buyers. “Our largest client base for the majority of our developments are Filipino expatriates who generate billions of dollars in revenue and investments for the country,” explains Antonio. “The profile of prospective buyers for The Milano Residences and Acqua Livingstone are single dwellers to families who believe in and embrace the idea of staying in an international designer project. They place importance on pride of ownership and believe these projects are superior real estate investments.”
The relatively affordable prices of units in these developments must also be a factor in their popularity. The most expensive unit at The Trump Tower for instance, hovers at only around SGD2.7 million, a far cry from the tens of millions that an equivalent unit would fetch in Singapore today.
And perhaps one reason why Antonio has been so successful in securing partnerships with big names in fashion and marketing them is that he himself is a living showcase of this high-end life. “I value luxury in my personal life, and my work with Century Properties is a natural extension,” he elaborates. “Style and design are significant facets of my life; so therefore, I wanted to work with solid fashion and luxury brands.”
About his own fashion sense, Antonio says: “The fashion brands I patronise are characterised by quality, elegance and a customised fit. In fashion, I identify with Tom Ford and Hedi Slimane, who have parlayed their sense of luxury and beauty into successful careers.”
Beyond fashion, Antonio is known for his amazing art collection, comprising works by masters that regularly feature in museums and art institutions in the world’s cultural capitals. “My collection features European, American and Asian modern, post-war, and contemporary art,” Antonio says matter of factly. “I have pieces from Pablo Picasso, Francis Bacon, Andy Warhol, Mark Rothko, Damien Hirst, Keith Haring, Takashi Murakami, Richard Prince, Tracey Emin, Robert Indiana, Marc Quinn and Alex Katz.”
“When deciding whether to add a new piece to my collection, I look at the artist’s importance in art history, quality, year and provenance,” Antonio explains. “I look for artists who have made a name for themselves, who exude a design aesthetic that appeals to my sense of luxury, who embody the joie de vivre for what they do. My predisposition towards art goes as far as or exceeds my inclination towards design, style, and fashion.”
Indeed, Antonio has carried his keen aesthetic eye and magnetic business sense into his work at Century Properties. With Trump Tower, The Milano Residences and Acqua Livingstone, Antonio has created beautiful marriages between property and fashion, and setting them in Manila has put this city in the global spotlight.
Hermès: The Trump Tower
Where: Century City, Makati, Manila
What: An ultra-exclusive residential skyscraper, with its brand name licensed from Trump in New York. Standing at 250-metres tall, this development will tower over its neighbours in the well-heeled Makati district.
The Hermès factor: Hermès’ designs will be seen in the amenities and common areas of the property. Residents can look forward to a grand triple-height lobby and a fine dining restaurant at the ground floor; and a library, business centre, lounge and video room on the third level. The tower’s 29th and 30th floors will boast a spa, fitness center and yoga studio, as well as a juice bar, sun deck and lap pool.
The residences: Only 220 units are on offer, ranging from compact 613-square feet suites to one- to four-bedroom flats, and penthouses of up to 4,574 square feet in size. Units are styled to reflect New York’s most famous neighbourhoods—Park Avenue, Fifth Avenue and Soho.
When: The showroom opened earlier this year, but the property has been taking reservations for units since September 2011.
Versace: The Milano Residences
Where: Century City, Makati, Manila
What: A 53-floor residential development also in Century City. Its architecture will be led by the Versace look, embodying the fashion brand’s sense of high living inside and out.
The Versace factor: Expect to see Versace’s flamboyant hand in this property’s elegant interiors, particularly in the grand lobby, hallways, lounge, library, pool garden and spa. Residents will also have Versace’s interior design inspirations to draw from for their own units.
The residences: They comprise 340 one- to three-bedroom units. The most premium units are the townhouses, penthouses and special units called the Loggias, that come with their own private plunge pools.
When: Slated for completion in 2015.
Price: Starting asking price of USD100,000–1,000,000
Missoni: Aqua Livingstone
Where: Mandaluyong City, Metro Manila
What: A six-tower mega residential development with two lifestyle centres, The Canopy and The Pebble. Connected to Makati by a new bridge for easy access.
The Missoni factor: Everywhere. From the flat interiors to amenities and common areas, the Missoni look prevails. Buyers have the option of decorating their flat with one of four Missoni designs: the cool and tranquil Magellano, the bright and sophisticated Bianconero, the playful and hip Dalia and the warm and cosy Vevey. The Canopy brings all this together and integrates Missoni design with the brand’s lifestyle promise, which is stylish, natural and always happy. Expect Missoni’s signature strong colours, dynamic forms and patterns, show-stopping furniture and dramatic lighting.
The Canopy: This split-level lifestyle centre brings all six towers of Acqua Livingstone together. On the lower level are functions rooms, a business centre, an indoor and outdoor gym, Jacuzzi, library and spa. On the upper level are an amphitheatre, lounge, DJ booth and dance floor, pool with bar and barbecue facilities. And on a mezzanine floor is a deck with an al fresco dining area. But listing The Canopy’s facilities doesn’t do justice to this offering. Its X-factor really comes from design and architecture that generates an ambiance that is all about sophistication and good living.
The Pebble: With a soothing water-inspired design, this is a four-storey complex that features sports and leisure facilities and a Riverwalk Promenade with restaurants, bars and cafes. All this is set against a backdrop of three cascading waterfalls. There is also a Boardwalk where residents can catch a water shuttle to and from Makati riverside, but with all this available here, they may never want to leave.
The residences: One- to three-bedroom units that range from approximately 291 square feet to 1,500 square feet. An exclusive collection of flats called Acqua Prive comprising Townhouse, Sky Garden, Private Garden, and Penthouse units. There are 645 units in total.
When: Three towers, Niagara, Sutherland and Dettifoss, were launched in August 2011 and have sold out. The Livingstone tower launched in early March 2012.
Price: Pre-sale price of approximately USD100,000–500,000 for units in The Livingstone Tower
on the Map
Super luxurious fashion designer properties are changing the face of the Filipino capital. We speak to Robbie Antonio, the man at Century Properties responsible for this new wave.
This article was first published in Tatler Homes