We love Dareen Hakim. Because of her very original move from finance to fashion; and because she provides to the kind of women we love very interesting creations: bags filled with her inspirations, fashion accessories made of her own journey. Her brand is already present in more than 30 countries. Eva Longoria and Fergie love her bags, made in NYC with fine Italian leather, and decorated with metal embellishments handcrafted in the Middle East. The great designer will be in Paris for Who’s Next starting from June, 30th. There will be a special contest right here on Hit Bag in few days, so … stay tuned! We had the chance to interview her…very powerful thoughts for us.
Hi Dareen! You have a very special background: why would a Wall Street hawk decide to pursue a fashion career as a designer?
You know, I get that question a lot because people often think of those two careers as being at odds, but I find that the combination has really benefited me in my endeavor to start Dareen Hakim Collection. I’ve always been attracted to creative outlets through design. I remember being four years old, waiting for my aunt at her office; I picked up a pencil and just started drawing. I drew a bird, but not just a silhouette, all the feathers and colors and dimensions. It was then that my aunt noticed my creative capacities — at that age. I remember growing up, I would explore unusual things like painting on silk to make scarves for my mom. She has had a big influence on my attraction to fashion too. My mom was a super fashionista, always having a closet well-stocked with Parisian designer brands and never failing to look fabulous. She would let me style both of us out of her closet. My grandma also influenced me by teaching me how to knit, making entire wardrobes for my dolls.
I guess what it boils down to is that I’ve always loved creation, specifically around fashion. Leaving the security of a career on Wall Street wasn’t necessarily an easy decision, but I knew it was the right one. There’s an old adage, “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” This isn’t to say that I haven’t been working like crazy, but it’s a labor of love and it’s so rewarding. I also knew that, between my business education at Harvard and my business experience on Wall Street, I could be a designer that brings both creative insight and practical business application to my brand. I guess you could say it’s one of the things that gives DHC an edge. My experiences and education have given me the opportunity to be fully-immersed in my brand from a variety of angles.
Your bags blend modern, urban design with Middle Eastern inspiration: is this because you live in NYC?
Yes and no. I’m inspired by so many things around me and, yes, some of those inspirations come from New York City. Whether I’m playing in the park with my daughter Mila, or I’m walking (well more like running!) the streets, something may catch my eye and inspire me to create something new or modify a piece that I’m working on. I never turn away from an unexpected inspiration, but the heart of my brand’s aesthetic comes from my Lebanese heritage.
I was born in Beirut and grew up in the midst of all the Lebanese turmoil. I was surrounded by destruction and ruins yet also by fast blossoming new and modern buildings as Lebanon kept rebuilding itself. This physical manifestation of old-world-meets-new really inspired and continues to inspire my brand. We hone an aesthetic that favors sleek and bold structures with exotic textured leathers–the new–but we adorn the bags with metals that have a rustic, artisanal feel–the old. Our metals are hand-crafted by artisans in the Middle East and many of them are inscribed with various beautiful phrases in Arabic calligraphy. For instance, some of our bags mean, “Happiness is a journey,” and “Smile and the world with smile at you,” but the meanings can be as profoundly simple as “Wisdom and Strength, ” and “My Love.” For me, it’s all about dynamic contrasts that spread sentiments of unity, understanding and happiness.
So you’re present at “Who’s Next”: what can we expect from you in the future?
Although the brand is currently sold in over 30 countries, this is actually our first international tradeshow. I’m eager to debut the new collection in Paris and we’re hoping this will create avenues into many more international outlets. Customers from various parts of the world often find us online and purchase from our website, as we ship internationally, but are always asking us if they can find at a local retailer – it’s very flattering. So this is a great opportunity for us to make our collection more accessible to all our customers and fans. I’m looking forward to creating momentum that will allow us to participate in more international shows, including Asia.
To give you a little sneak peak into the new collection, some of which will launch in Paris and the rest in New York in August… you can definitely expect to see that I’ve expanded the line to include variations of silhouettes and textures in the signature capsules, like Le Icon, Le Capri and Le Monaco. I am also extending into more everyday bags, like cross-bodies, satchels, and totes… furthering the brand into more ready-to-wear. The new creations will stay true to the brand in that they’ll have hand-crafted metal embellishments on exotic leathers, and, of course, the brand’s signature bright fuchsia bag lining. We’re working hard to maintain the contrast that characterizes our bags in new, innovative ways; but I’m really excited about what we have coming up. Our newest creations are shaping up to be quite edgy and sophisticated. We’re deepening our line and we’ll definitely give the men and women who love our bags even more to choose from. All in all, expect the chic, bold and unexpected.
Thanks Dareen! We’re impatient to see you during Who’s Next!