Behind the Scenes at Privato, the Private Luxury Shopping Experience

Ong Chin Huat catches up with Tina Tan Leo of Privato and finds out what the super-rich Asians are going crazy about.

Set up as the ultimate in personalised shopping and sourcing service to cater to the whims and fancies of ultra-high-net-worth-individuals, Privato is the brainchild of Singapore fashion and luxury doyenne Tan Tan Leo. As the founder and owner, Tan Leo brings over three decades of experience in high fashion and luxury goods as well as exquisite tastes in products ranging from evening gowns and handbags to jewellery and home accessories.

Basil-SodaPrivato is perfectly poised to satiate the voracious appetites for conspicuous consumption of these crazy rich Asians made famous by author Kevin Kwan in his novel of the same name. As an invitation-only shopping service which brings the most coveted designer labels and brands to cities flushed with cash like Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore, Bangkok, Jakarta Taipei, Tokyo and Kuala Lumpur, Tan Leo has carved a niche and name for herself as a purveyor of a five-star lifestyle and impeccable style.

From the intricate craftsmanship of Italian jeweller Buccellati to the glamorous gowns of Lebanese designer Basil Soda, Tan Leo personally curates and selects the best of what the world of high fashion and luxury has to offer around the world and brings them to the doorstep of her clients who may be filthy rich in monetary terms but poor when it comes to time.

Luxurious Magazine caught up with the super chic Tan Leo on a recent visit to Kuala Lumpur where she was organising a private trunk show with Denise Soda of Basil Soda fame.

Q. Could you tell us a bit about Privato and what it is about?
A. I have over 35 years of luxury fashion and retail experience and decided that a private service for bespoke and special items as well as made-to-measure fashion and lifestyle products was what was needed in Asia. Thus Privato was born and I started it four years ago to provide the ultimate luxury service to our private VIP Asian clients bringing them brands that they have not seen but would like to discover. We curate beautiful brands in fashion, home accessories, jewellery, gifts, haute couture and provide customer service and special personal order service, creating a wonderful shopping experience for our clients.

Q. How do you go about identifying luxury brands and what makes you decide to represent them in Asia?
A. Being a fashion merchandiser for 35 years and curating so many brands that we have launched in Asia like Vera Wang, Versace, Roberto Cavalli, Jimmy Choo, Christian Louboutin, Dolce & Gabbana, Etro, Donna Karen, Prada, Manolo Blahnik just to name a few….I have great passion, the eye and taste to pick the best of the best in the world. That and understanding our clientele’s lifestyle and taste is also a key!

Q. What brands are you currently representing at the moment?
A. We have brands from clothing to jewellery and bespoke items which are very exclusive and one-of-a-kinds such as those from Buccellati, Repossi, Tyler Ellis, Perrin, Versace, AS29, Safiyaa, Verney and the list goes on…..We are also working with brands who may not be familiar to Asia but would like to enter the market.

Q. Is there a favourite brand among your clients?
A. We have different brands for different folks. Some clients just want jewellery while others love home ware. But what I find is that fashion is universal and we help families with their shopping needs. It’s a little like private banking!

Q. What are markets does Privato focus on?
A. We focus mainly in Asia and regularly hold private exhibition, presentation and sales in countries like Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Taiwan, Japan, China and of course Singapore.

Q. Do you find that preferences and tastes in luxury items vary in the different markets Privato has operated in?
A. Yes, you need to know your markets, your clients’ lifestyle and culture as every country in Asia is not the same.

Q. If yes, could you explain the differences?
A. We understand the difference in culture and religion of our clients and will offer them the appropriate products.

Q. Apart from curating luxury brands and promoting them in Asia, what else do you and Privato do?
A. Besides our core business in retail sales, we also provide consultation services to both Asian and European and American brands. We have a service helping Asian brands develop and guide them through the process of going global and for the European and American brands we provide the service to guide them for their entry to Asia. Our clients are very important to us. We have built a trust and they come to us to help them with their private shopping needs.

Q. You have exquisite taste when it comes to fashion and style, can you define what makes a person stylish and chic?
A. Thank you for your kind compliment. I believe a person is born with the desire and pride to look good and enjoy beautiful things that life has to offer in every sense not only just in dressing up… Style can be taught but a sense of appreciation and the enjoyment of life’s luxuries and defines a person.

Q. What are your future plans for Privato and is there anything exciting you are planning in the near future you can tell Luxurious Magazine about?
A. Privato is looking at introducing some amazing new Chinese designers in the future. In the past we have concentrated solely on European or American designers so introducing some Chinese designers would be new and exciting for us. We will also bring in new products apart from fashion and accessories. My passion is not just confined to fashion but also lifestyle and home ware.

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