Collaboration is key
Aureta Thomollari’s career orbit is unique. A quick scroll through the luxury consultant and entrepreneur’s Instagram feed is a feast for the eyes, with far-flung destinations, art, and photos that jump off the grid with a certain mystique. With a number of collaborations under her belt, there are no signs of slowing down for the Albanian-American creative director. “For as long as I can remember, I’ve worked on at least five projects at the same time, each pulling me in different directions, challenging and pushing my limit,” she shares, donning white Swarovski-encrusted sunglasses from her eyewear collaboration with Alain Mikli. “The key to a healthy career is to diversify your portfolio,” she adds. Stationed at one of her favorite New York City spots, the Carlyle Hotel, Thomollari’s ensemble includes a number of partnerships she’s worked on, including a multicolor paillettes sequin puffer with Khrisjoy and a handbag created with Bienen Davis. Her emerald rings from a collaboration with Huckleberry flash while she indulges in her own Aureta Caviar from her collaboration with Marky’s Caviar.
The joy of safari
There was instant synergy when the head designer of Beinen Davis tapped Thomollari to imagine a collection. “My latest safari was the inspiration for the recent collection,” says Thomoralli, who gravitates towards all things sparkly, exotic, and ornate. “To be able to infuse my experiences, travels, and point of view means so much.” Founded in New York City, Bienen Davis handbags were synonymous with luxury from the Thirties to the Seventies and the bags were spotted on film, worn by celebrities, and included in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s permanent collection. Thomollari’s work features silver minaudières embellished with rainbow crystals and zebra print, a suede clutch with giraffe detail inspired by her stay at Nairobi’s Giraffe Manor, and colorful basket totes. “It has evolved into an ongoing creative partnership. From glamorous promotional parties at The Greenbrier to promote the collection, to hand-selecting skins at the best tanneries in Tuscany, to visits with artisans in Florence, it’s been nothing short of an adventure.”
For Thomollari, outfitting is a visual language. “Personal style as it pertains to fashion is a physical and emotional outpouring of how you want to feel in a particular moment. It’s both a privilege and an art and I’ve been fortunate over the years to mirror my love for artistic creativity, traveling, and enjoying life through what I choose to wear,” says the fashion savant. With a curator’s eye and a penchant for high-octane glamour, her fashion fixation started early. “When I was young, my father would ask my opinion on what to wear or what cologne to pick. I remember those moments having an impact on me, and it gave me confidence that my voice mattered when it came to style.” Her closet features statement-making designs such as vintage pieces by Moschino Couture, Elsa Schiaparelli, Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche, and Christian Lacroix. Dig a little further and you’ll discover her soft spot for Issey Miyake and Rei Kawakubo. As for her thoughts on how clothes should make a person feel, she shares, “It should elicit a freedom in how you approach the day. Sometimes it’s a shield, sometimes it’s a womb. It’s about what you want to communicate.”
The art of travel
Thomollari splits her time between Los Angeles, Miami, and Vermont. When she’s not renovating her new ranch-style cabin next to light and space sculpture artist Ray Howlett, she’s crafting her itinerary for her next destination. With a Rimowa bag in tow, Thomoralli has nearly checked off every continent to satisfy her appetite for inspiration and exploring the world’s aesthetic wonders. “I have yet to visit Antarctica, I’m looking forward to that,” she says with a smile. She reminisces about a visit to Bhutan, “Astonishing beauty and incredible souls that are blessed to live in such a pure land. It’s the only country in the world that has a negative carbon footprint and they don’t believe in GDP but GNH (Gross National Happiness). How can you not fall in love with such a place?” She describes her visit to an Everest base camp as a humbling experience that made her fall in love with the planet even more.
When asked about her morning routine she unassumingly shares, “I say thank you over and over again.” Her habit of practicing gratitude and appreciating what she has is something she’s been doing for decades. Thomollari opened a jewelry store in Beverly Hills during her third year of business school, which she only finished “because it meant something to my parents,” she says. “I didn’t find it necessary to continue when I already had a business up and running. What pushed me to keep going was to make my parents happy,” shares Thomoralli, who graduated summa cum laude. “I wrote a long letter to my mother thanking her for always believing in me and what an extraordinary human she was. It was a beautiful moment.”
Originally published in the April 2022 issue of Vogue Arabia