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Design & Style Trend — Minimal, Classic, Elegant: Priti Devi of Decorator’s Notebook

The Resurgence of Classic Elegance

An interesting trend in fashion and design seems to be a resurgence of pared down, quiet elegance. This delightful, refined trend has been the hallmark of some of the mostestablished luxury brands that never veered away from their classic elegance. In the luxury segment of fashion, one immediately thinks of Hermes, Armani and Carolina Herrera and today, other classic brands of the same milieu and vintage like Delvaux and ValextraBrioni and Kiton are also capturing the attention of many celebrity fashionistas, who are shunning bling for a more classic, elegant look.

I have always been partial to quiet elegance, a sort of sophistication that makes the onlooker take a second glance to soak in understated glamour. That effortless glamour, as the French say, requires a special je ne sais quois. Classic glamour also stems from capitalizing on heritage, be that architecture, decor, fashion or cuisine. Muted elegance usually is a clever blend of style and confidence.

The US Presidential inauguration earlier this year, saw the new First Lady emerge on stage in a gorgeous powder blue classic wool dress by Ralph Lauren, reminiscent of the understated and gracious style preferred by the most glamorous US First Lady, Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy. Among a plethora of brilliant designers available to dress the current First Lady, Melania Trump- her preference was to emerge in a stunning classic outfit, devoid of any flashy embellishments.

The Spring 2017 collections of most of the major fashion houses seem to have taken their cue from this understated design statement. The current “it” bag being promoted by the global on-line retailer Net-a-Porter, is the logo-less bamboo-handled, clean line, Gucci bag. Why is it special? Because it is quiet and elegant. Pair this with a shirtless classic black jacket and wide-leg pants for a sophisticated, yet sexy, look of the moment.

My personal favourite classic style statement this season is the timeless black dress. Pair it with colored suede sandals for the evening or with classic black flats for the day- effortless understated, yet raffishly stylish and elegant. This pared down style trend lends itself beautifully to those with confidence.

Some of the most talked about luxury hotels across the globe have perfected this quiet elegance. Gone are the heavily gilded sofas and chairs in the lobby that at one time defined “luxury”. The design and décor of many luxury properties today is more often than not, quite minimal yet luxuriously elegant. The Aman Resorts have perfected this minimally luxurious style across their stunning properties around the globe (you can read our review of the stunning Amanjiwo here). Beautifully crafted pieces of furniture are statement pieces, more for their structure and form, rather than opulent carving and gilt and are are upholstered in muted tones of high-quality silks, linen, cotton and even velvet and brocade, but in colours that soothe, not demand attention.

A fitting testament to this emerging sophistication in luxury hotel design is the Cotton House Hotel in Barcelona. Opened in 2015, Cotton House Barcelona is known for its regal, classic elegance with a contemporary twist. This 19th century neo-classical building was once a cotton factory belonging to a bourgeoisie family from Catalan- giving it the name, Cotton House. Transformed into its current, sophisticated state by leading Spanish interior designer Lazáro Rosa-Violán, this beautifully refurbished property is now part of the Autograph Collection of hotels.

Its classic elegance is derived from the property’s rich Spanish heritage and Rosa-Violán cleverly retained some of the historical, original features, blending these with contemporary additions, creating a gorgeous hotel with a sophisticated mix of the old and new. The hotel rooms and suites have beautiful, intricate boiserie-embellished walls and ceiling frescoes, and somehow complement the more contemporary furniture, which is upholstered in monochromatic cottons, creating a sublime elegance.

The dramatic marble features and beautiful parquet floors were conserved to retain the classic features of the property, but modern, minimal elements in the accessories, artworks and furnishings give the property a chic, understated and sophisticated finish.

Restaurants too are keen for patrons to focus on the cuisine rather than the décor and are moving away from dramatic interiors. Designed by Joyce Wang of the Joyce Wang Studio for acclaimed restaurateur Yenn Wong and Chef Nate Green, the trendy new restaurant Rohda, on Des Vouex Road in Hong Kong, is a stunningly designed restaurant that marries minimalism and industrial chic to create a cool, sophisticated space for the discerning diner.

Especially designed to complement the earthy cooking style of co-owner Chef Nate Green, Rhoda is a space created with flair and creativity in design that makes a subtle statement. Each element in this space, which, is exquisitely finished, from the form and structure of the tall bar chairs, sleek black glass tables, and frosted curved glass ceiling dramatic floating glass spiral staircase light features, giving the diners a sophisticated yet relaxed space to enjoy a remarkable meal. The lavish bar with its huge sunburst back splash wall draws your gaze, but nothing seems overtly contrived- just contemporary and stylish.

It’s the season to embrace elegance!

Priti Devi is the Founder and Owner of

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