The International Style

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.”

A billboard-size photograph by Ruven Afanador covers a wall in Acra’s study; the image was used in an ad campaign for Acra’s eponymous fashion label in 1999. The sofa is upholstered in pink suede. Photo: David Allee

Acra has dubbed this vignette her shrine. “It’s a place of reflection,” she says. The statue is Roman. The embellished figurine is by the French ceramicist Fabienne Auzolle. Photo: David Allee

Acra’s brother Max designed the wood-and-verre-églomisé cabinets that line the bedroom wall. On the floor are a few pairs of Acra’s sneakers by Miu Miu. Photo: David Allee

The stately four-poster canopy bed is perched atop a platform for added drama. Acra found the ornate chest in New Orleans. Photo: David Allee

The doors were salvaged from an Ottoman house in Beirut. The wallpaper’s motif was inspired by embroidery on a jacket that Acra designed. The lamp is a flea-market find, updated with an embroidered shade of Acra’s design. Photo: David Allee

The International Style