Noora Hefzi considers her own personal style as her biggest inspiration.
The Saudi Arabian-born fashion lover starting designing collections when she couldn’t find anything she liked to wear. So she took matters into her own hands and began creating collections that inspired her to dress up in the morning. But it is Noora’s spiritual side that has been driving her passion over this past year. The designer has learned more new skills than ever, from playing the violin to learning how to help others appreciate themselves and find self-love. As she prepares to launch her fall/winter 2020-21 collection we talk to Noora Hefzi on why this year has been so special to her and the changes she would love to see in the fashion industry moving forward.
This year has been a strange one for all – what is something you have learnt from this period?
It was a strange year but to be honest, I feel like this has been the best year for me as I was able to use the downtime to create my Spring Summer 2021 collection. I’m working on a collection of shoes and accessories collection for the first time as well. I’m investing most of my time into learning, by reading all the books I have always wanted to read and completing courses. I’m also focusing on improving my violin skills. I feel like I went back to being a student but studied subjects that will help me to grow mentally and spiritually.
Take us back to the beginning of your journey before you launched your fashion brand – what was your goal and how did you set about achieving it?
I wanted to create my own clothes so I designed a wardrobe for myself as I felt what I was looking for wasn’t available in the market. I wanted interesting clothes with luxurious fabrics, cool cuts, with great attention to detail and excellent finishing.
What is your first memory of fashion growing up?
Playing dress up in my mother’s closet with my sister and deciding who gets to keep what when we grow older. Making Barbie dresses with spare fabrics my grandmother had from her sewing projects, and watching one of my favourite style icons Sherihan on TV.
What are the values that are important to you as a woman and as a brand?
In a nutshell, “better fewer things” has been my motto in life. We need to re-evaluate our consumerism habits and see how we can invest in more long-lasting quality items rather than fast fashion or disposable things in order to reduce our footprint on our planet. We need to find sustainable solutions, but it can start with the way we live our lives at home, by upcycling rather than throwing away or recycling. I wish more people would understand this and be mindful when purchasing anything. I know as a designer that I have to do my best to be a sustainable brand and to do this I produce by order only. There needs to be an effort to reduce the absurd amount of waste that fashion brands produce and destroy each year.
What would you still like to achieve that you haven’t done yet?
With the knowledge I have acquired I would like to open a wellness centre for people who are interested in healing, self-discovery, development and releasing trapped emotions from their minds that are limiting them in their life, and changing or limiting their beliefs. I would also like to create a platform to teach kids how to deal with their emotions from the daily pressures of life by using EFT or Psych-K or creative visualization and teaching them that they are the creators of their reality. I would like to create a cookbook with all my wholesome healthy homemade recipes as well as create a Barbie clothesline with the fabrics I use for my designs and create dolls, dressing them with clothes I make. I would love to dress Queen Rania of Jordan and finally on a more personal note, I would like to travel to see the Northern Lights.
How do you think your heritage and upbringing has influenced your designs?
My upbringing definitely influenced my designs as I considered my mother the most stylish and elegant lady there is and she still is to this day. She dresses for herself every day, even if she’s not seeing anyone or going out, and I love that about her. She inspired me to dress the way I do and be creative with my outfits.
How would you define success?
Success is being able to do what you love, enjoy it and get paid for it. All whilst giving back to your community and making a positive impact within the world.
What can you tell us about your fall/winter collection?
The Fall/Winter 2020-2021 is a nostalgic ode to the decade I was born. Dreaming of yesteryear and my first real introduction to fashion through my mother’s wardrobe. As a child, I immersed myself and visualises the possibilities of what I would be able to wear as an adult and this collection is a reflection of that. I would envision myself looking glamorous in rich colours and bold cuts while running errands, or while lounging, much like the women in my life when I was young. The colour palette is a combination of deep jewel tones and evokes a sense of lavish glamour and mystery. With shades of emerald, persimmon, magenta, chartreuse green, oxblood and teal, the collection forms a complete wardrobe that can be layered and transitioned from evening wear to formal wear. It has the perfect balance between fluid and structured designs with shimmery iridescent velvet, fluid crepe and voluminous taffetas.
When are you at your most creative state of mind?
Definitely it is very early in the morning and while out with nature by myself, listening to classical Cello or violin music.
Who is the woman you design for?
I actually design for myself; that’s how I started my brand and I still keep that in mind every time I make something. When designing a new collection, I start by asking myself ‘what would I want to be wearing next season?’ So I’m creating a new wardrobe for myself each time. I imagine the woman who wears my pieces is someone comfortable in her own skin, elegant, timeless, confident and adventurous with her style.
What are some of the styles you love to create the most and what colours and fabrics do you like to work with?
I love velvet and organza even though it’s not easy to work with and they are seasonal materials, but they are just so beautiful to touch and so pleasing to the eye. I also love draped styles as well as asymmetrical cuts.
Where does sustainability fit into your brand?
We make our pieces to order for each customer; so don’t keep stock of any of our pieces. Customers today, have got too used to having what they want instantly, but in my opinion, good things take a little more time; just like good food takes time to be cooked, good clothes take time to make. Having to wait for your clothes to be made makes it exciting and you know that each piece is made especially for you. I think that is a nice feeling.
What is a challenge you have faced throughout your journey and how did you overcome it?
I think my biggest challenge was overcoming my fears. So I was the challenge! I wasn’t sure I could grow or expand or design more, or always be able to be creative or be good enough. But I have I learned that my business is not really about the sales, profits, media coverage or any of that. But rather who it made me become as a person and how it allowed me to evolve and change through the years to whom I am today. It made me work on being the best version of myself each day and to face my fears and do something out of my comfort zone each day.
If you could look back, what is something that you would tell your younger self?
Surrender and go with the flow. Take everything that comes your way not as an obstacle or problem but rather as an opportunity of growth in some form. I learned to ask myself ‘what’s the opportunity here?’ when facing a challenge. In the end, everything will work out in the best possible way for you, and if it doesn’t then it’s not the end yet. Trust God’s plans for you, even if it’s not what you planned for, everything is always connected back to your purpose in life.
What is something you would like to see happen in the fashion industry?
Season-less fashion! I hate the pressure of creating 3-4 collections a year collections that have a shelf life of maximum 6 months then “expire” or go on sale. I’ve been considering shifting my brand to a season-less one. I know some of the biggest brands have been doing that because of the pandemic, which I think is great since no one really needs a new wardrobe each season. I believe season-less fashion will save the planet. It would be a radical shift of a cycle that has been spinning and overproducing for decades and we need to rethink how we as producers and consumers can make a positive change.
I believe fashion should be classic, timeless, exciting and unique. Quite literally like wearable art. Something that will look good and appealing to buy today and ten years from now. Not because it’s in style or on-trend, but because it can be worn multiple times in many ways and will never go out of style.
What would you say to anyone at the beginning of his / her business journey?
Creativity requires courage. There is always a beginning, so gather the courage to start something you are passionate about. It’s that passion that will keep you going. Take one step towards your goal each day. Small continuous acts gather momentum that creates bigger things. Divide big goals into smaller chunks to make them easier to accomplish and to make them less intimidating. I truly believe that inspiration comes from God and is everywhere in the universe. Take action on the inspiration you get and implement the ideas before someone else does because someone else always will when you don’t. I learned this from the book “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert.
What is the life motto you live by?
“Forgiveness is like setting a prisoner free then discovering that prisoner was you.”