Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor can be said to be a connoisseur when it comes to handbags, as can be seen from the brands she chooses for her favourite arm accessory. After all, it was through her that Malaysians have been educated on the value of a Birkin bag by French fashion house Hermes. But public interest has now shifted to another new handbag brand, the custom-made Bijan.
Bukit Aman Commercial Crime Investigation Department director Commissioner Datuk Seri Amar Singh had earlier today announced that several Bijan bags were among the stash of high end goods seized last month from properties in the Klang Valley linked to Rosmah’s husband and former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak. Amar estimated the Bijan bags alone to be worth RM1.6 million.
The House of Bijan is known as the most expensive store in the world. Headquartered in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, this American brand uses only the finest materials from crocodile skin, kangaroo hide to flawless gemstones for its ultra high-end bags.
Since the passing away of The House of Bijan’s founder, Bijan Pakzad in 2011, Bijan of Beverly Hills has been forging ahead with a unique team that consists of family and friend. Every member is dedicated to enhancing the excellence, exclusivity and luxury imbued in the brand, and helping it maintain its market dominance. The power of brand image is part of Bijan’s heritage, growing vastly over four decades. The Bijan mark is an asset that is both priceless and irreplaceable. The Bijan team strives to constantly improve, to avoid complacency, broaden their skill sets, uphold superior work ethics and originate new ideas and ventures. One very important member and the charming face of Bijan’s recent ad campaign is son and namesake Nicolas Bijan Pakzad.
Nicolas not only inherited his father’s charm and handsome looks, but his passion and awareness of the global reach of the brand. Having been mentored by his father for several years in all aspects of Bijan design and operations, Nicolas currently plays an active role in the company. Nicolas works closely with co-founder Mr. Dar Mahboubi and Ms. Manijeh Messa continuing to spread the Bijan philosophy and carry on his father’s legacy.
“My father was able to build something that lived longer than him,” Nicolas Bijan says. “He underestimated that when he was alive.”
1. The History
BIJAN PAKZAD and his life-long friend, Dar Mahboubi, built a fashion empire together, based upon the simple principles of quality and exclusivity. Finishing touches and displays are very important aspects of the House of Bijan where the team designs and manufactures each piece by hand with the finest materials into an exclusive “limited edition” item, therefore, the manner in which their couture pieces are shown must be as special as the pieces themselves. Each display is created around a central color theme, from the clothing to the daily fresh flower selection.
“When my father opened his signature boutique forty years ago, Rodeo Drive was not the shopping destination it is today,” explains Nicolas Pakzad. “He along with other famous fashion designers and iconic characters made Rodeo Drive world renowned.” The Mayor of Beverly Hills declared May 8th “Bijan Day in the City of Beverly Hills” and honored Bijan Pakzad with the key to the city.
Over the last 40 years my father built something iconic, and I look forward to growing that family legacy into something even more special over the next 40+ years. The philosophies upon which our company was built will never change. Everything Bijan creates will always be the finest quality in the world, our collections will remain the most exclusive in the world, and we will continue to go above and beyond for our global clientele.”
2. Nicolas Bijan Pakzad
The company is now run by Nicolas Bijan Pakzad, who simply goes by Nicolas Bijan, son of the late House of Bijan founder Bijan Pakzad.
Despite being a millennial himself, Pakzad has no plans to introduce an e-commerce component. If you want one of the brand’s hand-made suits, shirts, fragrances or suede jackets, you actually have to come in and buy one.
“We’ve been able to stand apart because we are selling an experience,” he said. “It’s about quality and exclusivity. In the Rodeo Drive store, you are usually the only person in there. If we have more than two customers at a time, it’s chaos.”
Pakzad is taking the brand forward in other ways. In 2014, three years after his father died, he launched a women’s collection, starting with a made-to-order handbag in alligator with palladium hardware that costs about $65,000, and $175,000 if embellished with diamonds. He’s also developing a line of wallets and looking at additional women’s offerings.
He has found other ways to adjust to the shifting retail climate. He’s selling more sports and leather jackets than three-piece suits. And instead of servicing a small clutch of older billionaires who come in and make mammoth purchases, he’s seeing younger people eschewing the “one-in-every-color” mentality for a few select pieces.
3. BIJAN Celebrities
On a table at the new Bijan boutique in the Waldorf Astoria hotel in Beverly Hills sit framed photos of the rich and celebrated, among them former President Clinton, who was the store’s first customer when it opened in September.
Clinton is just one of a number of powerful and well-known men the House of Bijan has dressed since it opened its original flagship store on Rodeo Drive in 1976. That list of famous clients includes former U.S. presidents — George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and Barack Obama — as well as the kings of Spain and Saudi Arabia and a host of global billionaires.
Photographs of past and current clients: Michael Jordan, Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud, Bo Derek (sans cornrows), Muhammad Ali, Mexican pop star Cristian Castro. There was a photograph of all the previous U.S. presidents standing together, from Jimmy Carter to Barack Obama (with the exception of Ronald Reagan though he, too, was a client).
Other clients include former British prime minister Tony Blair and Russian President Vladimir Putin, as well as renowned designers like Oscar de la Renta, Tom Ford and Giorgio Armani, and A-list celebrities like Tom Cruise and Anthony Hopkins.
4. BIJAN Privacy
House of Bijan is known for creating the most exclusive and expensive menswear in the world and has an iconic boutique location on Beverly Hills’ Rodeo Drive, immediately recognizable by the one-of-a-kind Bijan yellow Rolls-Royce convertible parked out front—the subject of countless tourist photos. House of Bijan is the preferred brand to several loyal clientele, including royalty, heads of state, business moguls, presidents and celebrities.
“Since we dress some of the most high-profile and powerful men and women around the world, it is very important to respect the privacy of our clientele,” said Pakzad, a soft-spoken 26-year-old with impeccable manners, who declined himself and through a publicist to comment further on the subject.
It’s discretion that, perhaps, is expected by men who buy Bijan’s $12,000 suits — or one of the limited-edition yellow Rolls-Royce Phantoms that the house did in collaboration with the prestige car brand — one of which was stationed outside the Waldorf Astoria on a recent morning.
5. BIJAN Tie
Tie sets are made from the finest silks in the world from the Lake Como region in the North of Italy packaged in a matching box with paired handkerchief made from the same silk. At the House of Bijan each tie is numbered one of one or one of two, whereas other designers produce hundreds of the same tie. These main ideologies are applied in unique ways to everything crafted, from alligator loafers to kangaroo leather blouson jackets.
6. BIJAN Edition Rolls Royce & Bijan Edition Buggatti
After Bijan’s passing in 2011, the city dedicated the parking space in front of the boutique (where the Bijan Edition Rolls Royce or Bijan Edition Bugatti are frequently parked) with commemorative plaques in the sidewalk and a Bijan Yellow parking meter.
In 2011, Rolls Royce approached The House of Bijan with the concept of a limited edition series of automobiles designed by Bijan and manufactured by Rolls Royce, heralding the first major marriage between automobiles and fashion. The series is limited to 30 total cars worldwide, all designed to be “one of one”. In true couture fashion, each motorcar is uniquely designed for the particular client. Some features include a pavé diamond clock with 611 white diamonds, soft crocodile interior accents, the clients initials inlaid in the wooden dashboard, and a “ghosted” paisley designed bonnet.
If there was any doubt about its clientele, a US$2 million Bugatti Veyron, a Fernando Botero artwork worth millions of ringgit, and a sign which reads “Welcome to Bijan, the world’s most expensive store” are clear reminders of its exclusivity.
7. Bijan Handbag
Bijan’s handbags, which are structured similar to the Birkin range of bags from French brand Hermes, it’s little surprise that Bijan’s collection would suit Rosmah’s fancy. Bijan handbags come in a variety of vibrant colours.
Bijan handbags are made from crocodile skin and kangaroo hide. They are for the most part custom-made, aside from those sold at Bijan boutiques. Even then, these are limited editions, with only a few put up on the market.
8. Bijan’s Luxe Boutique
A limited edition Rolls Royce parked outside the boutique is a sure sign that the store is only for the “filthy rich”, as described by other media.
A crystal chandelier embellished with dozens of Bijan’s bottled perfumes take up the centrepiece of the two-storey boutique, which also prides itself over an original 1968 painting by Colombian artist Fernando Botero that hung on one of its trademark yellow walls.
It has been reported that shoppers who go to the boutique spend an average of US$100,000 each.
9. Bijan Perfume
Bijan’s collections now go beyond menswear, and include handbags and perfumes for both men and women. In 2001, it was estimated that Bijan’s perfume sales alone stood at RM12.9 billion.
10. Bijan – Wednesday’s top search on Google Malaysia
There were more than 100,000 search entries for “Bijan” and other related queries including “Bijan Bag”, “Bijan Handbag” and “House of Bijan”. “Bijan” was also one of the top trending terms on Twitter on Wednesday.