Nathalie Trad doesn’t need much of an introduction. She designs absolutely stunning clutches and is a well known name in every fashionable household in the Middle East region and abroad. Her clutches are a definite must have for every fashionista’s wardrobe.
Tell us a bit about yourself, Nathalie.
I was born in Lebanon and grew up in Dubai. I developed a strong penchant for asymmetric designs, which today forms the basis my line of clutches, whilst earning a BA from Paris’ ESMOD International. It was then, in 2007, that I discovered my personal design ethos: to take classic shapes – ubiquitous in our natural environment – and radically transform them, deconstructing and always trying to redefine the boundaries of fashion aesthetics.
In 2008, I relocated to New York to further pursue this vision. There, I studied Design and Management at Parsons The New School for Design and worked under the mentorship of an industry-leading accessories designer at Proenza Schouler. There, I gained experience of working in a growing fashion business and focused on gaining hands on experience designing accessories.
My time spent in two fashion capitals – Paris and New York – coupled with the expertise gained through my degrees and my quest to re-examine the foundations of traditional accessory design, helped me forge a unique signature style laying the foundation for my brand.
When was the brand founded and what is the inspiration behind the brand?
I was browsing through various books at my favorite bookstore in New York (“Strand”) I came across Albertus Seba’s book of illustrations, Cabinet of Natural Curiosities.
Considered one of the 18th century’s greatest natural history achievements, the book features images of a variety of insects drawn by illustrators. Believe it or not, seeing the kaleidoscope of colors on these insects’ carcasses immediately triggered in me a creative outpouring. I vividly remember being completely mesmerized by the complex forms, shapes and patterns captured in the book. Then while on an impromptu trip around South East Asia, my fascination with nature only grew stronger, I was completely taken aback by their natural wealth.
I started to go by the motto “smell with your eyes, hear with your nose, see with your ears and taste with your hands.” In doing so, I saw it all from a different perspective, which allowed me to reinterpret what I saw and led to the creation of my 2013 inaugural collection.
What was the source of inspiration for your latest collection?
Drawing inspiration from cubism and futurism, I took a moment to look at the world from different viewpoints, as a series of fractured perspectives and lines. A universe assembled from smaller shapes, overlapping geometric planes that crystallize into a gestalt, a unified whole.
The leitmotif of my Fall 2014 collection is filtering the world through a prism, deconstructing two dimensional shapes and morphing them into three dimensional bold, exotic sculptures. Marked by elegant decadence, opulent colors and eclectic patterns.
What were some of the challenges you faced when you started your brand?
Until now, the most challenging part is being the creative driver of the business while at the same time running it on a day to day basis. The best part for me is being able to decide on the creative direction of the season and shaping the business in line with my vision. Nevertheless being a small business owner also means that I need to play several roles sometimes all in the span of a day. I can go from being a graphic designer, logistics, marketing, retail, finance manager, and now that I am finally starting to hire a proper team, an HR manager. Being a small business owner requires being hands on every possible front which is not an easy task.
What do you love most about Dubai?
Dubai is a vibrant, thriving city and a gateway between the East and West. This perfectly mirrors the essence of my line of handbags and accessories: each and every one of my pieces draws on both Eastern and Western aesthetics, from my design background and creative process, to my contemporary influences, cultural heritage, and the different natural materials that I have used. Dubai represents a city that will never cease to evolve, recreate and outdo itself and thus serves as the perfect example for me. It pushes me to expand the realm of possibilities with my designs and create truly innovative pieces.
Any exciting news about the brand you would like to share with us?
We have some very exciting collaborations in the pipeline!
– Neha Prasad