Fumba’s most exotic home belongs to a Spanish fashion designer from Dubai. Christina Franco opened her doors for THE FUMBA TIMES.
It does not take much to know a globetrotter has settled in Fumba. A colourful wooden signpost outside Christina Franco’s house points to Madrid, Dubai and Tipsy Gipsy – the coordinates of her adventurous life on almost all continents.
As we step in, the adventure continues. A touch of Bali lingers in the living room, golden monkeys seem to be playing in the bedroom, a high-tech, all-red-kitchen invites you to start cooking. A bamboo-fenced African oasis in the backyard has replaced what was a simple open terrace before. “We added privacy and got more space at the same time, even some stow-away for suitcases under our new stone benches ”, says Christina about the transformation: “I’m absolutely happy with the result.”
Christina Franco is what you might call a modern nomad. “Travelling is in my DNA”, says the fashion designer, who started out as an economist before discovering her creative talent and calls herself “an actress of life”.
She has worked in Nigeria, the Caribbean and South America, in Asia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East. For the last 13 years the 50-year-old, looking easily twenty years younger, has been living in Dubai, where she established her fashion brand “Tipsy Gipsy”. Where does the crazy name come from? “Well, that’s easy”, Christina says, “with all my travelling I really felt like a gipsy.”
In Dubai she has more than 40 tailors working on her flamboyant collections. Easy to wear, feminine summer dresses, caftans and pants for all sizes and ages are her trademark. The result is a “Carmen-goes-Arabic” style, a playful mixture of Flamenco, Arabian and Asian influences. “I want women of any shape and size to feel comfortable in my clothes”, the designer says: ”You will look fabulous in our clothes no matter your age, nationality, culture or style.”
More than ten thousand fashion fans already follow her “Spanish boho chic” on Instagram @Tipsygiypsdubai. Her creations are ordered and shipped all over the world. No wonder, the very moment the designer stepped onto Zanzibar, she found a shop here, too. Wonders Boutique on Gizenga Street now sells a big range of her environmentally friendly clothing line well suited for the hot temperatures of Dubai and Africa.
“I love vibrant colours and flowers, both in fashion and décor”, Christina says, a theme reflected in every niche of her jungle house in Fumba Town. The 2-bedroom house has a large cozy lounge with a dining table and an open kitchen bar. One bedroom displays a striking lotus-like headboard; the room is kept strictly in blue-and silver, the ocean theme continues in the adjacent bathroom. Jungle fever strikes us in the second master bedroom with an equally beautiful hand-carved wooden bed, a green bedspread, and golden monkeys hanging from the ceiling and bedside-lamps. “In Fumba I wanted to combine the themes ocean and jungle”, Christina explains.
“Interior design is really just my hobby”, says the established fashion designer who has, by now,furnished three homes for herself, in Madrid, Dubai and Zanzibar. Here she is renting out to holidaymakers. “We simply loved it”, said an Afro-American couple who recently spent several weeks in Christina’s town house in Fumba Town. “From the moment you step in, your holiday adventure begins.” The jungle-book-for-real effect appeals to vacation makers who - after all - want a break from the ordinary. “But when I designed the house, I did it for myself”, Christina assures, “I did not have any tenants in mind.”
“I bought and shipped most of the furniture in one go from Dubai after I had only seen a video of the house,” she recalls, “I did not want to waste any time furnishing it. I was happy to be assisted by Raquel Tofu, a fellow countrywoman from Spain who works in Zanzibar and implemented many of my ideas”, Christina says.
The whole interior is a mix-‘n-match of expensive and not-so-expensive items. High-tech gadgets including an oversize red cooker are to be found in the kitchen, elaborate copper appliances in the bathroom. Upmarket deco is matched with budget finds such as pillowcases made of kanga clothes in Zanzibar. The unusual combination of old and new adds a special exuberant charm to the house. As much as Tipsy Gipsy fashion is designed “to liberate women of tight and uncomfortable clothing” – so the company branding – her jungle house seems to liberate the matchbox-type townhouses in Fumba Town of their uniformity.
This is especially apparent on the outside. Christina’s back and front yard have turned from simple tiled terraces into eclectic hippie-esque outdoor spaces, with a wooden dining table and a hammock on an extended green veranda in front of the house.
“Maybe I will make Zanzibar my main residence in the future”, the designer is contemplating.
With her jungle house, in any case, the stage is set for a very creative woman.
Where to buy Tipsy Gipsy
In Zanzibar: Wonders Boutique, Gizenga Street