Interview with Bahraini handbag designer Noof Al Shekar
Noof Al Shekar is a handbag designer who launched her eponymous line in 2010. Since childhood, her fascination with design and the patterns that occur in art, architecture and the natural world was heightened by her passion for sketching and painting. Initially, her instinctive grasp for all things mathematical encouraged her to pursue an academic career in architecture, though in the meantime the sumptuous little jewel bags she was designing for herself were quietly gaining a fan-base, eventually persuading her to devote full time to designing her own bespoke collection. Since the brand’s inaugural collection, Noof’s designs have been influenced by her opulent Arab heritage and inspired by the sacred geometry in Islamic architecture and the earth’s natural gemstones. With her meticulous attention to each design process, Noof creates the sketches and mock-ups from her Bahrain-based atelier and travels across the globe in search of the finest materials and gemstones. Working closely with a small group of master craftsmen to produce each hand-made clutch and overseeing every detail, she creates a limited number of perfect clutches that marry bag with jewel. The result is a collection that re-imagines the handbag as a piece of jewelry, and gives new expression to the clutch as a masterpiece of wearable art. Noof resides in Bahrain with her four children.
When and how you decided that you wanted to be a designer?
I started to design my own clutches as a trial, my whole idea was to make the clutch valuable and glamorous like a piece of jewel and to add semi precious stones to them in order to bring life into the bag, this idea started in 2009 and started my brand in 2010.
It was your dream job?
Yes, I would say one of my dreams as growing up was to become a designer (clothes or jewelry)and then, in an older age, I was interested in architecture and wanted to take that path, but I guess I’m lucky to start designing bags cause I can express my designs with geometric shapes.
Which is the first thing you designed and for who (yourself,a friend…)?
The first bag I designed was for myself. Andelucia and D2D, both of them are my favorite pieces, that I still use today.
Who’s the designer you admire the most and why?
I admire the most Coco Chanel, cause she started a women revaluation and changed how woman dress in her area, but one of today’s designer I admire a lot is Tom Ford, I find all of his pieces very feminine.
Who’s your muse, your icon, when you create a dress?
My icon and muse is Grace Kelly, Jacqueline Kennedy and Audrey Hepburn their elegance and style is timeless.
If you had to design an entire collection using just one color, which is the one you’d pick and why?
White with Platinum. I find it as elegant as black but yet different, something that stands out.
Who’s the first person you show your sketches to?
My eldest son, I like to show him and take his opinion in what I’m planning to do.
The fabric you love the most…silk, lace, velvet and why?
Velvet, cause it’s rich and has a shimmer just enough not to be too much.
If your clothes had a soundtrack, which songs you’d choose?
Sway with me for Martin Dean.
Do you have any trick to avoid that “blank page” moment when you’re at the beginning of the designing of a new collection?
It depends, if I’m traveling I’ll go for a walk and gaze in the architecture of the city, and if I’m back home I’ll look into one of my books defending which (Russian heritage, Barouque, castles of Morocco..etc) and indulge myself in that beauty something always comes out of that.
If you weren’t a designer which job in the fashion world you would like to do and why?
I would have loved to be a buyer, cause you buy all the beautiful pieces and after will enjoy seeing people appreciating them.