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In the living room of... Vionnet owner Goga Ashkenazi

 

Goga Ashkenazi, director of fashion house Vionnet, opened the doors of her splendid Milanese home to Numéro.

There’s nothing like 1,000m2 of Milanese real estate for a breath of fresh air. It was after visiting a handful of exceptional properties in the Italian fashion capital that Kazak billionaire Goga Ashkenazi fell for this imposing 17th-century palazzo – rather in the same way, one imagines, that she bought up haute-couture house Vionnet in 2012. There’s a gym and spa in the basement and a swimming pool in the garden, everything Madame needs to keep her happy.

 “What I immediately liked about this place is the light and the garden,” she confides. “It’s a real privilege to live in a space like this in the centre of Milan, they’re very rare. Especially since it’s just a short walk from my studio.” Concerned not to disfigure the elegant building, which still has its original parquet flooring, Ashkenazi did nothing to the structure, preferring to add her personal touch via the furnishings and eccentric objects that she’s found in galleries, fairs and flea markets across the world, from Berlin to Art Basel Miami Beach to Milan’s historic Brera district.

 

Among them are a limited-edition hand-woven rug designed by Verner Panton and a glass coffee table commissioned from local craftsman so as to reflect the garden’s greenery and daylight. Just nearby, a scarlet 1940s shell chair and a turquoise Edra sofa by Francesco Binfaré attest to Ashkenazi’s exuberant and whimsical temperament. Indeed when a friend had the clever idea of giving her a series of faux boulders in mother-of-pearl, “I went completely crazy and covered the walls with them,” she recalls.

 I’m like a big child who collects toys.

As for the hippopotamus-head sculpture that dominates the room, “it was an impulse buy. I’m like a big child who collects toys,” she confesses mischievously. “The hippopotamus is a symbol of maternity and is supposed to watch over the mistress of the house. It’s an animal that lives on the ground but also in the water, and which is very practical. It has the particularity of always performing the same daily gestures. In some cultures, the hippopotamus is said to have the power to show you the best way to achieve your goals, while for others it’s supposed to increase the intuition we have in our hearts and the truth we search for in life.”

 

By Philip Utz, photos Alberto Narduzzi.

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