Buro 24/7 One to Watch: Nathalie Trad
She sells seashells
Nathalie Trad's name emerged on the Middle East's fashion and retail scene late last year, thanks to key style editors and influencers – such as Princess Deena Abdulaziz – being spotted clutching chic box-bag designs by her eponymous label.
Forming part of a new generation of fashion creatives from the region that cleverly fuse contemporary Western tastes with the decadent edge preferred in the Gulf, Trad's minaudières are made from mother-of-pearl, shell, leather, wood, resin and stainless steel; chaotically capturing repetitions and geometry. It's a refreshing change from the overt jewel encrusted pieces so familiar here – in a nutshell, they have edge.
It's therefore little surprise that the "born in Beirut, raised in Dubai" designer swiftly evolved from a Bachelor's degree from ESMOD International to a stint in New York at Parsons School for Design (under the mentorship of Proenza Schouler) before returning to the region with her own line, now stocked at Joseph in London and on Avenue32.com. Buro 24/7 speaks to the pearly queen to find out more.
On her inspiration:
"I got inspired for my first collection while browsing through the Strand Bookstore in New York. I came across Albertus Seba's book of illustrations, Cabinet of Natural Curiosities and was immediately drawn to the kaleidoscope of colour and patterns. Back in the 18th century such illustrations provided an exotic window into plans and insects, and I began to think about creating clutches that are curiously luxurious specimens..."
On her latest collection:
"I went one step further into understanding the never ending patterns within nature and the unfolding possibilities within it. When I reflect on nature I see the picture of a dynamic, an endless maze of connections in which nothing remains what, where and as it was but everything moves, changes, and comes into being. This season was about observing, putting everything under a microscope to reveal the patterns that compose the essence of an object."
On the design process:
"I always tend to gravitate towards shell as a base material that I source from the Far East region – a treasure trove of exquisite materials. My design process starts with an idea, something that sparks my imagination and my mind running. Then I sketch uncontrollably and allow my ideas to take a course of their own before I look through all the drawings and start editing and refining my ideas into products. Then it's technical sheets and sometimes clay prototypes to help me visualise the final piece – which needs to go via the Far East workshop. It's such an exciting process that always leads to new unexpected discoveries!"
On her favourite piece:
"My favourite piece from this collection is the Opiona. What I love most about it is that it morphs into a completely different piece every time you look at it from a different angle or perspective."
On what's in store for 2014:
"It is very important for me to maintain the design ethos that is at the core of my brand. A philosophy attributes innovation and the creation of unique and timeless pieces that speak to the modern woman of today. A woman who is fluent in the language of art and design, and not necessarily looking for trends so much as special pieces to add to her wardrobe and hold onto. My plan for 2014 is to expand the presence of my brand both regionally and internationally while staying true to my design philosophy."