Carmen Busquets likes to quote Warren Buffett: “Invest in what you know.” The Venezuelan-born financier loves fashion — she was one of the original backers, in 2000, of e‑commerce giant Net‑a‑Porter. Since then, Busquets has made major investments in Moda Operandi, where clients can preorder looks right off the runway; Unmade, which allows users to design knitwear from scratch; and PS Dept., a shopping app. Busquets is an avid collector of, well, everything: couture, jewelry, and also real estate. “I have houses in Switzerland, St. Barts, Miami, Spain, , but I don’t necessarily live in them,” she says, laughing. “I’m focused on working, so I spend my life in hotels.”
Her Paris apartment.
Down to Business
• Fashion e-commerce is growing, but retail is a different story. A lot of stores keep buying the same way as they used to, and in the end the sell-through is 30 or 40 percent. You can go to department stores and see clothes marked 75 percent off, and people are not even buying them. But they are buying clothes off the internet.
Busquets’s Christian Astuguevieille chair.
• Farfetch and Net-a-Porter are both e-commerce sites, but each has its own strong DNA. I don’t find that they’re competitors, even if they sell to the same client, because I am that client. I don’t go to boutiques, so I need to have them all. I don’t want to spend my whole life looking for dresses.
• A company I’m excited about is Armarium, which lets you rent high-end clothes like Roberto Cavalli or Missoni. You can get some crazy dress that you would never dare to buy. You look great, and then you return it the next day. It’s like Cinderella. That’s how millennials think.
Jeweled cuff from Munnu the Gem Palace, prices upon request.
• When I was backing Net-a-Porter, I would look at what was new and find that I liked a lot of things, and I would say, “We’re not going to do very well this week.” But when I would find a lot of things that I didn’t like, I would say, “We’re going to do very well this week.” I’ve learned not to make assumptions that everybody thinks the way I do.
Busquets’s Betony Vernon white marble Origin chair.
• I like to invest in people who are complementary to me, who share the same vision. You create a partnership, and it’s almost like family, because sometimes in these companies you have to stay together for 15 years. If you don’t have a close relationship with the founders, you can’t make magic.
A Rick Owens table.
• I have 16 personalities, and I dress accordingly. I can go from all-black Rick Owens to hippie bohemian with no makeup. But I don’t like anything that is mass-produced: I’d rather do quality than quantity. I like to support people who are true to their style, like Mary Katrantzou or Comme des Garçons. I’ve been wearing Alaïa since I was 22.
Elie Top necklace, price upon request.
• Jewelry is ornamental, it’s touchable, but it’s also emotional. That’s why it’s important for me to know who made the jewelry — it’s like I carry a piece of that person. I gravitate toward talented new jewelry designers with a strong style, like Fernando Jorge, Loree Rodkin, Elie Top, and Lydia Courteille. And jewelry from Africa and India — the late Munnu Kasliwal from the Gem Palace was a friend of mine. These pieces complement the jewelry that I inherited from my mother, which I hardly ever wear because I don’t want to lose it.
Lydia Courteille pendant earrings, price upon request.
• I found out that I was partially deaf in both ears when I was 23 years old. I had 50 percent hearing. Human beings rely on what they have. It took me nine years to get used to wearing a hearing aid, and five more to start turning the volume down again. I realized that by hearing 100 percent, I was losing my natural instincts. Fashion is another way for me to understand people and the ways in which we rely on our body language and expressions.
Earrings from Munnu the Gem Palace, prices upon request.
• It’s interesting to know the psychology of fashion. If I’m traumatized about having to go to a party and I know that a lot of people are going to be talking to me, I wear a big accessory, so the conversation stays on the accessory. You can distract people with fashion. Comme des Garçons and Maurizio Galante are great conversation starters.
This story was originally published in the October 2017 issue of Siweb.