He was born in Lebanon, grew up in Libya, and travelled from place to place throughout his formative years due to his diplomat father’s itinerant vocation. And, in all those years as a peripatetic young aesthete, it was a singular art form, mosaics – Byzantine masterpieces in what was once Ancient Constantinople, tiled splendour in the basilicas of Venice and Ravenna – that inspired Mark Farhat, the most.
Decades on, the soul-stirring geometric elegance of tessellation remains a signature aspect of the stunning bags, accessories and other leather-ware produced by his brand, Mark/Giusti, which he founded in 2009. And it’s one particular mosaic – the intricate Cosmati pavement in front of the High Altar at Westminster Abbey, on which no less than 38 kings and queens have been crowned – that inspired his collection “London Calling”, which is named after an adopted home city he describes as a “volcano of inspiration”.
The overcoming of adversity has been a major theme in Farhat’s life. The cancer he was diagnosed when he was 16 would return five times, yet that didn’t stop him doing a B.A. in business administration in Beirut, before coming to London to study marketing management with an emphasis on consumer behaviour and branding for luxury brands. A design degree in Milan followed – “I did mainly technical work because I wanted [to work with] bags and accessories,” he has told The Rake magazine – then a position which involved moving between New York and London, which ground and whetted his business credentials.
The kernel of his own business was the provision of small bespoke products for private customers, but word spread – with Pitti Uomo appearances amplifying his message to au courant dandies who value aesthetics, design, detail and practicality to shouty logos – and the brand’s vertiginous ascendancy now seems set to have no ceiling: luxury boutiques and department stores across the US, UK, Asia and Europe have all been seduced by the brand’s timeless simplicity and Italian craftsmanship, and it’s now stocked in 17 international countries. And, indeed, by us at The Rake, which is proud to offer highlights of an accessories line which will add more than a soupçon of subtle flamboyance (no oxymoron in our world) to the most catholic of wardrobes.