Saying that luxury boutiques are common in Singapore is an understatement.
Despite some differences in size, interior decor and types of customers, most luxury boutiques in Singapore (and indeed across the world) look quite similar, for the most part.
Still, there are those boutiques which stand apart from the rest, such as Hermès rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré in Paris–whose window displays are always up to par with the store’s reputation, or the Dior boutique in the Ginza district of Tokyo, which rarely falls short of even the wildest expectations.
Yet typically, the selection of products in such boutiques do not differ that much from one country to another.
Enter Malmaison (by The Hour Glass) in Singapore, one of those highly unusual shops that redefine the very concept of what a luxury boutique can (and should) be.
The way that this place sets itself apart from all the others is a direct credit to the work of one particular man: Michael Tay, Executive Director of The Hour Glass, who decided to express his personal passion for beautiful things and exceptional objects in a decidedly unexpected place.
The group The Hour Glass was founded by the parents of Michael Tay and represents by far the largest family empire of luxury watches in Singapore. His family has been the first to import Rolex watches as early as 1949, a fact that should give one a very concrete indication of the influence the Tay family holds on the local market.
The Malmaison name was inspired by the Imperial Palace of Malmaison in France, acquired in 1799 during the Directoire period by Josephine de Beauharnais, the wife of Napoleon and later occupied by Napoleon himself. Michael Tay does not hide his admiration for Napoleon, to whom he dedicated the most impressive part of the building, which combines antique clocks, paintings of Napoleon Bonaparte and a quite remarkable collection of sabers and other historical swords.
The finest and most exclusive watches in the world are located in different rooms, protected by a mythical creature–the Griffon.
When I was there, I witnessed an absolutely fantastic collection of vintage Rolex timepieces. These historical watches are not for sale, but Michael Tay likes to allow his visitors to view this spectacular collection, for it is simply too beautiful not to be displayed to the amateur’s eyes.
A watch enthusiast could easily lose hours here in a single visit.
But it can be said that the most surprising part of Malmaison is its small but smartly curated menswear selection, with brands such as Charvet, Rubinacci, Corthay, Frédéric Malle (perfumes), and Trudon (candle wax) on display, next to a superb grand Steinway and Sons piano. This place is indeed a wonderland.
The product selection here reflects exquisite taste. Next to the stunning display of Frédéric Malle fragrances, glass booths have been placed to allow the customer to experience each perfume in a neutral environment. Entering such a booth feels fantastic, not unlike entering a sort of time machine that transports you back (or forward) to better days.
Menswear brands that have “made the cut” to be featured here have been handpicked by the master of the house himself according to his own tastes in clothes, accessories and shoes.
The ceiling of the first floor resembles a Patek Philippe Celestial, with the image of a celestial vault created by a painter with a passion for astronomy who took care to respect the correct mapping of the stars. A remarkable and mesmerizing place that really does feel “out-of-time”, if I may say so.
A wonderful discovery for men who love beauty, and who happen to find themselves in Singapore…
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