Summers in the Middle East – How to stay fashionable

One of the most go-to topics for small talk is the weather. In the Middle East it is rather focused on the summer heat. How did it get this hot and humid? Was it this hot last year as well? Temperatures are rising and we manage living in the heat by limiting our time outside and focus on activities inside, where the a/c is on full-blast.

How do we make sure to still look good and elegant when we DO have to be outside during those 5 minutes of walking over to our car/taxi?

Simple. Keep it simple, keep it loose! Summer dresses can easily be combined with pumps or sandals, and when entering the blistering cold of your offices or home – layer it up with a smart cardigan or jacket. Same goes for this summer trend – the midi skirt. Combine it with a funky loose fitting shirt and you’re ready for the day!  

Hilda Maha's Flared Silk Dress - Perfect for the heat
Loose fitting clothes are key to overcoming these heat – don’t restrict yourself in tight fitting clothes, rather go for flowy and clothes that allow you to stay cool in the heat.

If it’s still too hot for you to handle  you might want to restore to some cosmetics. We’re a huge fan of Evian’s amazing facial mist – spray it on your face during those moments when you need some H2O to survive and you’ll be alright ;).  

Daring Dareen

Tell us something about you outside your profession as a designer…

I love to explore and try new things.  It’s like adrenaline that makes life worth living.  For example, I love to scuba dive and have gone diving with all kinds of sharks.  I went to surf camp randomly a few years ago in Costa Rica. Love to travel and explore the local areas, not the touristy ones.  I enjoy learning new languages... Italian is my new goal.  Dancing is when I’m the happiest, whether bellydancing with my daughter at home or taking a Hip Hop, African or Salsa class. I used to be a hard-core tennis player, and I love fun games of volleyball.  I play the piano and violin... wish I played the guitar too though!

How did you segway from Wallstreet into fashion?

My goal has always been to start my own business one day.  My father is an entrepreneur, my mother is an entrepreneur, and I always wanted to create something of my own.  I knew early in my career that I wanted to develop fundamental skills that I could leverage regardless of the industry or business I chose to start later in life.  That was the primary rationale for my journey through Harvard, business, Wall Street, etc.  The objective was to get a rapid education in general management training that I needed to build in order to increase my chances of success. 

My choice for fashion was a simple decision … it is what I am personally passionate about.  I love it, I live it and I breathe it… it makes me happy and takes me to a world of beauty and creativity.  And I wanted my business to be in the industry that I loved, so that I would wake up every day excited to start work, never get bored, have resilience and sustenance, and therefore the strongest drive and chance of success. 

So, I started the Dareen Hakim Collection a little over 4 years ago, incorporating my business and management background from my past experiences, to pursue this love for accessories, creativity and art. 

You’re originally from Beirut, but live in between California and New York, if you get to describe each city with one word, what would they be?
Beirut - Depth
California - Serenity
New York - Adrenaline

What influenced the look/designs of your handbags?

The combination of my past and my present, across so many levels, has led me to always enjoy the depth of contrast and dimension in anything I see or experience. 

In my childhood, I was always naturally attracted to the arts, from drawing and painting on silk, to knitting and creation in ceramics.  I was always attracted to creation but in the unexpected way… watching paint slowly travel through silk and blend into other colors, seeing how a ceramic piece swirls into unexpected shapes with the slight accidental touch of your hand. I loved discovering old vintage pieces and pairing them with newness in a nontraditional way.  This is where my aesthetic of bold and contrasting elements comes.  Contrast is a huge part of it.  Whether with regards to fabrics, textures, eras, cultural elements… I love to mix it together, making for deep interesting creations in my handbags.  It’s no longer just an accessory… it’s a story.

What are your thoughts on Middle Eastern fashion talents?

 I’m inspired to watch the global exposure of Middle Eastern fashion talent blossom.  The Lebanese society especially is open and pluralistic, and as a result has always been courageous and very expressive.  This also translates into Lebanese women - they typically enjoy standing out in a crowd and not being afraid to show off their personal style.  This environment has encouraged Lebanese designers to challenge fashion trends and always seek new ideas and creative, edgy, “outside the box” styles – truly creating art and always looking to innovate in a unique way.  This aesthetic of Lebanese designers stands apart from the more conservative European and American fashion, and has helped Lebanon create a name for itself as a capital in fashion. 

As a trend setting fashion designer, what fashion trends here in Middle East would you consider to incorporate in your future lines?

The Middle East is so much more about its history, rather than its present.  The present is too influenced by the Western worlds, whereas the past is raw, authentic and internally inspired.  This past is the root of my inspiration and will continue to be so.  Of course, the incorporation of global trends, including Western trend, that we are seeing in the Middle East is not a bad thing at all but rather a beautiful thing … it is in fact what I do myself, as the unique combination of worldly art and the mix of cultures is what makes things so unexpectedly interesting and innovative.  Through it all, I do plan to stay true to the nuggets of beauty that we revere in the Middle East, from the fine handwork, to the craft of brass metal creations, to the tales told in the strokes of calligraphy and beauty of words and their poetic meanings… there is so much.

Who are your favourite designers and why?

In few words, I admire Alexander McQueen’s fearlessness and Chanel’s classic timelessness.  My work is consistently influenced by the battle between both, which eventually finds a beautiful balance.

What can we expect for the new Dareen Hakim collection in the next season?

Each season, I think it is important within contemporary culture for designers to reflect their cultural influences within their designs.  That's something I have done from the beginning and something I will continue to do.  This upcoming season, the beauty will continue to be ingrained in the uniqueness and differences across cultures, giving each piece a story and soul.  We will evolve each of our metal series into new silhouettes and new messages.  But you will also see new metalwork by our artisans in unexpected applications and combinations with fresh bold color stories for the season.  I hope you will like it!

Describe the Dareen Hakim woman…

The lady who carries a DH bag is curious, confident and proud of her unique self.  She’s ambitious, loves to learn and discover, to travel, to ask questions, to try new things, to have opinions.  Not only is she comfortable with herself, but she enjoys flaunting her differences and standing out in a crowd and among her friends - always with grace, elegance and courtesy but with a little bit of an edge.  She is ageless. She is an attitude.  She is busy with the curiosities of life. 

Aside from the overall unique aesthetic and design of the bag, our DH lady enjoys that each piece is a personal possession, not just an accessory.  It means something.  From the inscribed messages on some of the metals and the ability to customize your leather, metal and message, she gets to explore her senses and make it her own.

Last question real quick; your favorite bag outside the Dareen Hakim line and why, go!  

Honestly? … This is embarrassing but my Louis Vuitton Neverfull Damier Azur.  Why?  Because it’s a gigantic carryall that I don’t offer in my collection, so I tell myself that I have no choice but to get a bag like this elsewhere.  It’s my work bag, beach bag, travel bag, Mary Poppins bag … ;)  But aside from when I need it functionally, you will never catch me without one of my Dareen Hakim Collection bags!

Funky Fyunka

Hi Alaa, when did you decide to start Fyunka and what were the goals that you wanted to achieve with setting up Fyunka?
Right before I graduated I knew I wanted to have my own brand. The goal was to create something pretty and make people smile.

You’re originally from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, but currently live in New York City – what do you miss about home?
Family, Friends and Food

Tell us about your blog and you being a social media enthusiast, how do you incorporate this with your business?
I try to reach out with social media and it’s amazing how social media can be an influencer to trends.

If there’s anything that is lacking in the fashion scene in the Middle Eastern region compared to New York, what is it?
I would say originality and consistency, although we have lots of amazing brands.

As an aspiring women’s wear fashion designer, what fashion trends here in Middle East would you consider to incorporate in your future fashion line?
I just started an apparel line so I would call myself a fashion designer

We were at Fashion Forward 2014 and spotted new bags and accessories, lots of exciting new products coming from you, what can you share about the upcoming line?
You’ll be seeing more apparel and more bags for now.

Tell us how your collaboration with Casio came about (we’re really excited about this!)
They reached out for collaboration and I was a huge Baby G fan in the 90s and I guess we're bringing them back with Fyunka.

In what ways can the region still develop do you wish for the Middle Eastern fashion industry to change, or improve, in order to be the best it can offer us fashionistas in the region?
I truly believe that branding is key.

 Last question real quick; your favorite fashion brand and why, go!   

I love Sotra and Razan Alazzouni.

Fashion “Cannes” do Good

One of the most anticipated Film Festivals in the world has just ended and us fashion lovers were treated with a great selection of dramatic, fabulous and chic ensembles.

What’s so special about the Cannes Film Festival is that at the end of the festival, amfAR Gala is hosted. The amfAR gala is a live auction event to raise funds against AIDS.  This year the auction raised an astounding record of $35 million for amfAR.

Each year, Fundraising Chairman Sharon Stone opens the Gala with a fabulous gown and this year she did not disappoint in Roberto Cavalli. Can you believe she’s 56? We can’t either… 

Our faves this year

Sharon Stone in Roberto Cavalli & Marion Cotillar in Alexander McQueen 

Rosie Huntington-Whitely in Emilio Pucci & Jordan Dunn in Balmain

And last but not the least, Aishwarya Ray in Armani Privé

Chanel’s Spectacular Dubai Cruise

When Karl does a collection, he goes big. Dubai, the city known for its superlatives, was this year’s destination and inspiration for the Chanel Cruise collection. And my, what Karl pulled out of his magical CC branded hat for this show, we were absolutely smitten!

It was the fashion show of the year really, Karl brought his gorgeous muses along including Vanessa Paradis, Dakota Fanning, Tilda Swinton and Freida Pinto.
And don’t even get us started on the location – they built a CC branded hangar on a private island.  Guests were invited onto traditional dhow boats and welcomed on the island of Chanel.

The collection was very influenced by the Middle East, many aspects of the Arab culture were used for this collection. The IT bag for this season? Definitely the quilted petroleum can bag, can’t get more middle eastern than that and very tongue-in-cheek by Karl. Another highlight was the dress with the skyline of Dubai which had the audience applaud. Job well done once again by the talented designer.

Go big or go home

All eyes were on the red carpet rolled out at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City this week. The Oscars of the fashion Industry, Vogue’s MET gala,  was upon us and it’s our favorite time of the year. This year’s theme celebrated the mid-20th century fashion designer Charles James’ successful and  long career with the exhibit, "Charles James: Beyond Fashion."

The white-tie affair was opened on the infamous stairs at the Metropolitan Museum by Sarah Jessica Parker  in a dramatically and show stopping Oscar de la Renta gown.
As many influential celebs in the music, movie and fashion industry upped their game for this event, we couldn’t help but be in awe of all the big gowns worn by the daring ones this time around.

Hailee Steinfeld looked chic in and escorted by her lovely date Prabal Gurung, shoe designer Tabitha Simmons brought in the flowers in the ever so romantic Dolce & Gabbana Alta Moda .

Though the gala was held in the city that never sleeps, New York, fashion editor Coco Brandolini gave us a tour around Venice in her gorgeous Dolce & Gabbana Alta Moda gown.

Our favorites of this night go to models Liu Wen in Zac Posen and Karolina Kurkova in Marchesa, they went for big & stunning, job well done to both ladies! 

All the Pretty Colors

The sun is out from hiding and that’s a good enough reason to refresh our spring/summer wardrobes with splashes of color!

Did you know that colors impact our moods? Another good reason for happy new colours for your summer wardrobe!

Here’s a breakdown of colors and their effect on your emotions:

Red - passion and love as well as anger and danger.

Orange - vitality and happiness.

Yellow – laughter, hope, and positivity.

Green - new beginnings, health and wealth.

Blue - calmness and spirituality as well as security and trust.

Purple - creativity, royalty, and wealth.