Saudi Arabian designer Noora Hefzi started her fashion brand to satisfy a need for elegant yet contemporary designs. With an innate sense of style inherited from her mother, Noora was unfulfilled by anything she could find on the market and realised the only way to fill her fashion needs was to start designing her own garments.
She soon realised that other women were also inspired by her creations, leading to the development of her own brand. Noora’s pieces are designed with timeless appeal, transcending trends, and seasons; they have a classic sense of elegance with a unique twist. She loves to work with colour and uses luxurious, unusual fabrics in her collections, offering an unexpected edge and attitude. As Noora prepares to launch her next collection, we learn more about her brand and her opinion of the growing fashion industry in Saudi Arabia.
Who is the woman that you design for?
The woman I always design for is an inspiring, confident woman who appreciates the finer things in life and loves to dress for herself without following trends. She creates her own trends.
What more would you like to see being done to support designers from Saudi Arabia?
There has been huge support for Saudi designers in the last two years, since the creation of the Fashion Commission under the Ministry of Culture. Along with many of my fellow designer friends from Saudi, I was selected for special mentoring from some of the top fashion figures in the fashion world. As a result, I am in close contact with many top designers in the country. Now, what we all need support with are PR and investment. Saudi brands need PR for the world to see their designs and investment to help them grow and scale up.
Tell us about your journey to where you are today – what have been the biggest challenges?
My journey started from a need I was fulfilling for myself, and to this day, I am my own customer. I never wanted to dress like the rest of the crowd. During high school, I realised how limited the options were for the stylish and unique contemporary woman. Far too often, I found people dressed in similar or identical outfits at a gathering or event, which made me even more selective regarding my choice of clothing and the pieces I bought. So I started changing the details in my garments, adding or removing elements to make them more personalised, customised and reflective of my personal style.
Eventually, this led me to make my own clothes, which got many compliments from friends, family, and strangers. So, I started my own label from home, creating unique and one-of-a-kind pieces. It began with one collection a year of around 30-40 pieces, mostly dresses. They were like pieces of art that could easily start a conversation with a stranger when wearing them, as many clients have expressed.
My biggest challenge is balancing my personal life with being a wife and a mother of young children who need attention and quality time. As well as trying to do everything on my own, it was a lot of pressure and responsibility at the same time.
What is your most significant achievement so far?
One of my biggest achievements in the fashion world so far would be dressing Pharrell Williams just last year for a magazine cover shoot and the fact that he loved the piece and wanted to wear it. But my most significant achievement in this field must be my loyal customers, who have continued to return for years. I have wonderful relationships with them; they trust me to style them, select colours and looks for them, and advise them on personal growth or healthy lifestyle changes. It means a lot to me to be that person for so many women.
How do you think you have evolved as a designer?
I feel I have evolved in many ways. The main one is that I have learnt to let go of people’s opinions of me, and I have become indifferent to what others think of me. When I first started, it was important for me to be liked and approved of, but it doesn’t matter now. I love and approve of myself, and that’s what’s important.
I have also let go of trying to make things work, and now I try to go with the flow. I have begun to delegate more, as I used to do everything myself. It’s a challenge to let go of some of my responsibilities, but I am getting there!
What message would you send to aspiring designers from the Middle East?
Do what you love, and don’t try to fit in or please others. You will fit in naturally when you are true to yourself and love what you do regardless of other’s opinions. Fashion is very subjective, and you can always choose “what’s in and what’s not” for you personally. So don’t follow the trends, but rather create your own or go with what you love, regardless of the trend. That is what makes you unique. Don’t take every opportunity, learn to say no to something that won’t add value or elevate your brand or your business, and be selective with everything.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned along the way?
To trust my intuition and my gut. Listen to your heart on all matters and not your mind. Sometimes it won’t make sense, but it’s the heart’s mind that knows. And when one door shuts, know there is a better one opening for you soon. Things always work, even though you can’t always see it.
Who is someone who inspires you?
I find something inspiring in everyone I meet and see. There is a special gift in every one of us. However, the first person that comes to mind is my mother and how supportive, confident, determined and motivated she is; no matter what happens, she keeps going. She has a growth mindset, a grateful heart, and a young soul. She is a well-educated, charismatic leader who always keeps evolving and learning.
And last but not least, she is elegant, graceful and has always been so stylish on top of all that. She is the reason I started designing in the first place. She has been inspiring in her personal style since we were younger children.
What else is in the pipeline for the rest of the year?
I’m working on an exciting, colourful new line that I hope to release by the beginning of next year. I will keep the rest as a surprise!
What is something you would like to do with the brand that you haven’t done yet?
I’ve always loved shoes and have been a collector myself for years. However, in the last few years, I have found it more and more difficult to find shoes that are not trend-focused. So I have been planning to start a shoe collection within my brand to fill the gap I see in the market. I want to create beautiful, timeless, elegant, yet special shoes that bring joy and comfort to the wearer.
I also want to expand further with the accessories and semi-fine jewellery segments. It’s something I personally use a lot in my own styling. Statement pieces that are timeless and that bring joy when you wear them.
Are there any upcoming designers from Saudi that you are excited about?
There are many! There is such huge potential and creative talent in Saudi Arabia. I have many names on my mind; I can think of a few now. Firstly, it would be my sister Deemah Hefzi, who has recently started creating unusual fine jewellery. The rest of the names I have in mind have been in the business for some time, are inspiring, and have huge international potential. Some of my favourite designers are: Yousef Akbar, Abadia by Shahad Alshehail, Lurline, Nobel & Fresh by Nayef Alhayef, Mona Alshibel, Chador, La’beso by Balqees Alqadeeb, Dazluq by Salma Zahran, Noura Sulaiman, kaf by kaf (Kawthar Alhuraish) to name a few.
What is a message that you would send to your clients and friends in the Middle East?
Thank you for always inspiring me and for your love, support, and trust in me! The heart-warming feedback and encouragement I always get from my clients and friends makes me feel so grateful and blessed, and it’s what keeps me going in what I do.