The oligarch-turned-fashion-designer embodies the shifting global economy.
The Kazakh oligarch-turned-fashion-designer is pointing a perfectly manicured finger to the scratches in the mirror above her head, and reciting a story about the 19th-century courtesans who frequented these upstairs salons.
“They were testing the diamonds that they were being paid with, and they would test whether or not they were authentic on the mirrors.” Actually, we agree, some of the names scratched into the glass look suspiciously contemporary.
Ashkenazi concludes: “It’s a very funny place but it’s got fantastic food.” Ashkenazi is best-known for her social circle: a pal of Britain’s Prince Andrew, she has a glittering array of former boyfriends.
Her surname comes from a brief marriage to American hotel heir Stefan Ashkenazy.
Timur Kulibayev, the married billionaire son-in-law of Kazakhstan’s eternal president Nursultan Nazarbayev, fathered her two young sons.
Fiat heir Lapo Elkann is her latest former boyfriend.
Yet the 33-year-old, who recently jumped from the oil and gas industries to purchase the venerable French fashion house Vionnet, is also a case-study of how elites from resource-rich economies are buying up western Europe. In the confines of our private salon, Ashkenazi is quite a presence: sharp central Asian cheekbones, long shiny black hair, full lips.
One hand has green nail polish to match her trousers, the other black to match her top.
In the place where other people wear a belt buckle, she has an upside-down black heart. She beams and gushes, in accented but fluent English: “Just for you.
I just flew in from Tokyo, I didn’t have time to change.
For your sake, I actually had to travel like this.” The clothes are her own creation: unusually, Ashkenazi is both creative director and owner of Vionnet.