Born in Beirut, she grew up in Paris, where her primary mentor in all things aesthetic was her uncle Joseph Achkar, the noted decorator and collector who was recently tapped by the French government to oversee the $120 million overhaul of the Hôtel de la Marine, on the Place de la Concorde. Achkar remembers taking Fares to the Paris flea markets, where, even at age 11 or 12, she would confidently approach dealers with questions about furniture and art. “While most kids—including her sister—just wanted to play,” he says, “Tania was asking about pieces and periods, and giving her opinion of what she liked and didn’t like. ” Achkar noticed the same self-assurance a few years later when Fares began pivoting toward contemporary art and design, and later toward the fashion world.
Fares, who for several years partnered with the London-based designer Lulu Kennedy on her line Lulu & Co, and who also invests in young designers anonymously, says the trust can be most helpful at that tricky moment when a designer is navigating expansion. “Say you’re a young designer and you start working with a factory, but the factory also has bigger brands that are ordering thousands and thousands of garments,” Fares explains. “Who are they going to prioritize? ” In addition to cash and advice, the trust can help with connections and referrals, since its members are a highly global bunch.
She and her husband have been turning up with increasing frequency at the Tower Bar, and on their last trip, she says, “I met maybe 20 people moving there from New York or London, and all of them are artists, creative directors, photographers. ” Fares, who starts her L. A. mornings with 20 minutes of transcendental meditation, now has a West Coast perch that’s about as L. A. as you can get: She just bought a midcentury house in the coveted Trousdale Estates area, designed by Wallace Neff. Also very L. A. are the drive and ambition that lie underneath Fares’s smiling, placid exterior.
The house’s architect is Nabil Gholam, who was practically unknown at the time Fares hired him—but who later went on to design one of the tallest buildings in Beirut. “When we built this house, some people liked it, some didn’t,” says Fares, who’s dressed in a Rosie Assoulin pink smiley face T-shirt and Stella McCartney wide-leg silk pants. “But it’s always that way.
The surprise is that Fares furnished the house almost 15 years ago, back when many of these disparate pieces were far less coveted than they are now—and when the very idea of bringing them all together under one roof was considered outré in this part of the world. (Her neighbors here in the wealthy enclave of Shalimar tend to be more traditional in their tastes. ) Fares had no help from a decorator, adding or subtracting a Campana Brothers chair here, a Nada Debs side table there.
That evening, back up at the house, where it’s always at least 10 degrees cooler than in town, Fares says the vibe in summer can feel downright Gstaad-like, by Lebanese standards: “For us, this house is a mountain retreat—it’s about hiking, sports, relaxing, eating healthy. ” There’s a tennis court that doubles as a basketball court for the couple’s sons.