LA Exclusive: Assouline on Why the Philippine Market Is Ready for the 'Luxury Brand Devoted to Culture' - Arts & Culture

“High net worth individuals don’t only buy fashion or watches,” the luxury publisher’s brand director Khaoula Ouerfelli shares. “They also buy art; they also [purchase] beautiful books.

While you’re well-aware of luxury brands for fashion, furniture, and possibly even pets, what about culture? Well, books publisher Assouline describes themselves as just that—”the first brand of luxury culture.”

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Founded in 1994 by Prosper and Martine Assouline, the company aimed to contribute to the worlds of luxury, fashion, and design through “book objects.” These are published works with substantial text and decorative pieces on many topics, from heritage brands and influential people to travel and cuisine.

The publishing house’s founders Prosper and Martine Assouline / Photo from

Before launching their company, the couple wrote their own coffeetable book titled La Colombe D’or, which features a historic hotel in the south of France of the same name. Prosper shot the images while Martine wrote its text.

Today, Assouline has stores in the US, Europe, Middle East, Asia, and Africa. Last December, Assouline opened their first Philippine branded corner inside UNIVERS d’homme et femme at Makati’s Greenbelt 3. Spearheaded Mark “Jappy” Gonzalez’s H&F Retail Concepts, renowned architect Ed Calma designed their 425-square meter retail space.

Devoted to culture

On their decision to open in Manila, Khaoula Ouerfelli, Assouline’s international sales and brand director, tells Lifestyle Asia that there’s a “growing interest” in their category of products as well as their niche. “We are the luxury brand devoted to culture,” she reiterates. 

Their concepts explored in each of their releases vary, but their “Ultimate Collection” celebrates the art of luxury bookmaking. Within the collection are dedicated books on cars, jewelry, yachts, watches, cigars, and wine, to name a few.

Each of these books is hand-bound and designed to fit the book’s theme. For The Impossible Collection of Wine (Ultimate Collection), the book object is placed inside a crate reminiscent of ones for storing wine bottles. Beyond its creative exteriors, its contents hold text by world champion sommelier Enrico Bernardo. All of the items from the Ultimate Collection cost almost $1,000.

“High net worth individuals don’t only buy fashion or watches,” Ouerfelli shares. “They also buy art; they also [purchase] beautiful books. They buy into that type of product. And we do see this trend.”

New perspectives

The French publishing house is also inclined to feature people and concepts from unexpected angles. For instance, they worked closely with Francesco Maccapani Missoni, from the Missoni clan that owns the namesake luxury fashion house. Together, they launched a cookbook which reveals their heirloom Italian recipes.

“Basically, the idea is that Missoni is a powerful brand, but it’s also a family,” the brand director explains. “And [they’re] also an Italian family, so the idea is to bring that aspect to the forefront. You’ll feel like you get to know them a bit better through this book.”

For creative concepts, such as mixology, “Cocktail Chameleon” was written by American mixologist Mark Addison. “It’s called that because it takes all these different cocktails. Twelve different cocktails and shows fourteen ways to make each cocktail,” Ouerfelli says. “Take the Bloody Mary, for instance; that’s where it starts. Then you can learn how to make Bloody Maria, Bloody Margaret, Blonde Mary, Frozen Mary, and it goes on.”

To inspire

Assouline also makes books on well-loved luxury brands such as Dior, Chanel, Rolex, Cartier, and Montblanc. On how they decide on topics to release, Ouerfelli says there’s “no set process” because it’s creative. “It’s quite organic. Sometimes, people approach us, and we find that the topic is interesting.

Sometimes it’s the Assoulines who really want to explore a topic. So it really depends, and it’s also about timing,” she shares. But at the core of it all, from the books to each store opened, Ouerfelli shares that Assouline aims to “provide inspiration.”

Assouline is located in UNIVERS d’homme et femme at Ground Level, Greenbelt 3, Makati. You get updates on Assouline PH through UNIVERS on Instagram and Facebook.

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