What is the fuss about BIJAN? Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor can be said to be a connoisseur when it comes to handbags, as can be seen from the brands she chooses for her favourite arm accessory. After all, it was through her that Malaysians have been educated on the value of a Birkin bag by French fashion house Hermes. But public interest has now shifted to another new handbag brand, the custom-made Bijan.
Bukit Aman Commercial Crime Investigation Department director Commissioner Datuk Seri Amar Singh had earlier today announced that several Bijan bags were among the stash of high end goods seized last month from properties in the Klang Valley linked to Rosmah’s husband and former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak. Amar estimated the Bijan bags alone to be worth RM1.6 million. Bijan? What is that? So Birkin and Hermes, move aside! Malaysian is now talking about Bijan all the way. What is it, and what makes it so unique? Some Malaysians have noticed that Bijan is an anagram for Najib, that Bijan spells out as N-A-J-I-B in reverse, many netizens were also quick to question and have suggested, jokingly, that the brand could even be his own, or that he might have some stake in it.
So what is actually a Bijan and where does it come from? The House of Bijan belongs to Iranian designer Bijan Pakzad. Several publications have described it as “the world’s most expensive store”. Pakzad migrated to the United States in 1973, before setting up an exclusive boutique on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, California three years later. A Huffington Post article listed down Barack Obama, George and George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Prince Charles, Pierce Brosnan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Hugh Hefner and Monaco’s Prince Rainier among its star-studded client list. The report said one must need an appointment before even entering the store, which has since been sold in 2016 to luxury group LVMH — which owns, among others, Louis Vuitton, Dior, and Hublot. The store sells clothing and fragrances, and as evident by its distinguished clients mostly for men.
The Most Expensive Journal blog site, which writes on luxury items, puts the price of a tie at US$1,200 (RM4,832) and custom-made suits at US$25,000. Huffington Post said the store did not produce its accessories and clothes in big numbers, “just a handful at the most” from quality fabrics and materials, to maintain the brand’s exclusivity. A lower-level Bijan crocodile clutch purse costs about US$10,000 (RM40,318). But, its diamond-encrusted Bijan bags are likely to set buyers back by six figures or more. A custom-made bag by Bijan, which considers itself ‘the world’s most expensive store,’ was one of the 567 luxury handbags seized by the police in their 1MDB probe. The Bijan bag police revealed today was custom-made and not available on the market, Bukit Aman Commercial Crime Investigation Department director Amar Singh Ishar Singh had said. So perhaps the bag was Najib’s instead of Rosmah? Perhaps, but perhaps not. Bijan also has a collection of alligator handbags for ladies in an assortment of bright colours that Rosmah appears to be fond of, apart from her love of jewellery.
Los Angeles has been named as one of the places Najib’s wife Rosmah Mansor was known to shop at in news reports about investigations into funds allegedly stolen from state investor 1Malaysia Development Berhad. On New Year’s Eve in 2013, there was speculation among some Malaysian bloggers that she and Najib had completed a trip to Los Angeles and were headed to Sydney to usher in 2014.