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The International Style

Fashion designer Reem Acra has developed her discerning eye over a lifetime spent traveling the globe.

Photographs by David Allee

Reem Acra started young. “Since I was 5, my mother would take me to the souks every Saturday,” she says, recalling her upbringing in Beirut. “She would hand me money and teach me about silk organza, zippers, and threads. The experience was incredible.” Now, decades on, this early education has paid off; her fashion house, which launched in 1997 as a bridal collection, has since grown into a full-fledged ready-to-wear label favored by the red-carpet set.

Acra and her brothers learned at a young age that anything is possible—if you put in the work. And her 3,200-square-foot home in the garment district is a testament to this ethic, with many decorative touches Acra herself designed. A striking photograph by Ruven Afanador was part of an ad campaign for Acra’s business; she enlarged it and let it take over a wall, transforming the image into a piece of art. A table was fashioned from blocks of resin that contain delicate pieces of sequin-embroidered lace that Acra used in her first bridal designs, an idea inspired by her father’s collection of amber. “No one believed me when I said it was possible to put fabric in resin,” she notes. But Acra is not a woman who likes to be told that something is impossible.

The apartment showcases Acra the globe-trotter—from the Ottoman architectural ornaments to the treasures from her travels displayed throughout the rooms. But the velvet banquettes and regal bed are the hallmarks of someone who prizes her time at home.

Acra’s parents, who always had an open door for friends, taught their children how to entertain in style. “When my mother threw a party,” she says, “even as a kid, she’d call me in and say, ‘Organize it for me.’ ” Acra is the consummate hostess to this day. Her flair for lavish dinner parties and décor that’s gorgeous but still inviting poses only one problem. As Acra notes, “No one wants to leave.”