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!