2008-02-02 | Shanghai Magazine
"The older I get, the more I love bright colors," says Yue-Sai Kan, lounging on a violet-red sofa in her new lifestyle store. Put another way, the cosmetic maven, television personality and city socialite wants to do for homes across China what shes already done for lips.
House of Yue-Sai is Kans latest business interest after launching Chinas most famous homegrown cosmetic brand, Yue-Sai cosmetics, in 1992. Just off Nanjing Lu, the two-story shop boasts bold colors and classy collections featuring gifts, furniture, bedding, bath, lighting, home accessories and gourmet products, each hand picked by Yue-Sai.
Kan's background and travel experience as a TV celebrity in both America (she was among the first to introduce China to Westerners through her TV programs in the US) and China has allowed her to source a dazzling array of products from more than 100 suppliers from 10 countries. "Every important brand has a personality - what makes Yue-Sai different is the mix," says Kan.
The mix includes crane and bamboo print trays and towels by Yue-Sais father, Chinese ink painter Wing-Lin Kan; a sophisticated collection of porcelain and bone china tableware; Italian silk scarves and Bulgarian designer Dimitar Lukanovs cast bronze Light to Sky sculpture. ("You know, I have this in my own house, too," says Kan.)
The boutique is divided into themed rooms. The "Global" area harmoniously showcases Chinese furniture, Italian lighting, Vietnamese jade Buddha ornaments and ancient woods from the Indonesian rainforest. "Real Luxe" highlights opulent one-offs, such as a silver Indian sofa prices at RMB 370,000, while the "Modern" section offers the minimalist elegance of north European furnishings. "We looked to Chinese history and at the same time brought a Western sensibility to make the store truly modern," explains creative director Richard Langone.
The downstairs food corner sells a good selection of imported wines, including Vidal Oak-aged Ice Wine from Canada. Even this has a personal touch for Yue-Sai,she admits getting very drunk on this particular drop in her younger days.
Despite all these intimate influences, the business is not just a hobby. House of Yue-Sai boasts Ian Strickland, the former Chief Operating Officer of B&Q China, as its CEO, and the brand has recently launched an interactive website, membership program, gift voucher card and corporate gift booking service. A series of in-store events and exhibitions will also be held, including wine-tasting lectures, make-up shows and talks by Yue-Sais celerity friends. She also plans to work closely with Chinese contemporary artists and designers, including Wang Feng and Lu Kun.
In short, once again Yue-Sai is aiming high. Indeed, she insists that at least 70 per cent of the products are self-designed and self-labeled. "I want Yue-Sai to be the first Chinese global lifestyle brand," she says. And what the lady wants, she usually gets.