My luxury journey

Janine Stefan Sarbu

Year 1995.

I was 18 and just got my first car and driving licence. First, there was a trip to London and an effervescent shopping spree on New and Old Bond Street. The Landmark Hotel was my ”home” away from home – at the time, one of the finest London hotels. Versace was the top luxury brand with a packed flagship store. There was also Thierry Mugler and Gianfranco Ferre. It was all about bling, shine and luxury. A relationship with a local designer was also a huge stimulent to show off.

Year 1996.

I left my family business, creating a huge scandal within the family and got a job at THE top fashion brand JANINE, co-owned by Janine herself and media millionaire Adrian Sarbu, today the CEO of one of the largest media companies in the world. His first question? – what’s your motivation and my answer came instantly – I am willing to work for free for at least 2 months and a hand shake sealed what was to become my future life career, hobby and passion.

Year 1997.

Ignoring my law university studies, my job at Janine was soon taking over my life entirely. Adrian Sarbu was there for me whatever training or information I needed. I would never forget a marketing idea I had at the time and that was to run a campaign on the Romanian National TAROM airline carrier, which was at that time under the direct supervision of the Minister of Transport, today, the President of Romania. A phone call made it all happen. All I needed was an original idea and to prove my skills. 1997 was also my first ”wake up call” for being a ”fashion victim” and also marked the 1998 transition to loving luxury brands for the business behind and not the glitz, shine or show off potential they would have.

Also in 1997 I coordinated the launch of the first premium fragrance ever produced by a Romanian fashion designer – J DE JANINE, made by a famous manufaturer in the French ”fragrance town” of Grasse. Then, there came several exceptional collections and projects

Year 1998

The unfortunate, yet  predictable divorce between Janine Stefan and Adrian Sarbu was not only making headlines but was signalling the 1999 closure of the Janine Fashion House. My father was also very sick and his operated lung cancer was getting worse.

Year 1999

As always, I somehow managed to move on….after months of being depressed. The end of my Janine career also brought the end of my personal relationship, which had nothing to do with my career, I guess just a matter of timing. On December 4th, while on a business trip in London and after having breakfast in my room at the Park Lane InterContinental,  I got the most scary and frightening phone call in my life – it was my mum saying I had to go back home as my father was admitted to hospital and our family friend and cardiologist said he only had hours to live. I got on the first flight to Bucharest, yet it was a connecting one, in Zurich. I shall never forget that while I was checking the weather delays on the airport board, my mum called and said he died. And he died desperately asking ”Where is he ?” So, I guess, after so many years, the reason I never had the chance to say good bye is that he never actually left me. He’s always been there for me, no matter what I am talking to him in my dreams all the time….

to be continued….