Darin Hachem’s diverse upbringing has allowed her to channel a world of inspiration through her designs. The designer was born in Lebanon but raised in Gabon, Africa before moving back to Beirut, then London and finally residing in Milan where her fashion house was born.
So it’s fair to say that the designer had a number of influences when she set up her fashion brand. Hachem has a strong awareness of the importance of sustainability, something that she tries to support through her design process and the production of her pieces.
For her spring/summer 2020 collection Hachem was inspired by the work of Lebanese artist Saloua Raouda Choucair. The abstract artist was one of the first creatives in her field in the 1950s. She combined western abstraction with Islamic Aesthetics to create works of wood and clay that have a close connection to the earth. Hachem saw this as a reflection of her own interests and the brand’s DNA and close connection to the earth in terms of the materials and colours used in her designs. The spring/summer 2020 pieces were envisioned in terms of combinations – a piece within a piece, much like the interlocking structure of Choucair’s work that ended up forming a unique whole, but still open to different interpretations.
The collection continues the brand’s fluid and organic mood but features more angular details including big collars and cuffs. The colour palette is earthy and harmonious. To find out more about the collection we talk to the designer on her latest designs and her plans for the future of the house.
What do you love most about what you do?
The best part of my job is actually the research. This is where we get to dig deep and make new discoveries, find new concepts, learn about new trends and get how to get the most out of them. But I also love the creative part when I actually draw the collections. One of the satisfying moments for me is when I look at the moodboards and see how the collection is coming together in terms of fabrics, colours and designs.
What is the biggest challenge you face right now?
The biggest challenge I’m facing today is making the right decisions concerning the distribution and expansion of the brand.
What is coming up for you in 2020?
2020 is the year of getting to know more about the direction in which we want the brand to go and the way we want to communicate our brand going forward and where we want to be present.
What can you tell us about the Spring/Summer 2020 collection – what are you highlight pieces?
Our Spring/Summer 2020 collection is more playful in terms of design but also with the choice of colours, as we introduced pastels for the rst time in contrast to the other earthy matte colours that are constant in our identity. The blue half-blazer with the belt pocket is also another playful piece as it can be worn on the left side, the right side or both together as a “full blazer”. One of the core pieces in the collection was tinted naturally in a small laboratory in Puglia in the south of Italy. The fabrics were tinted with a mix called “Quebracho”. This is a mix of plant-based ingredients that give a unique soft peachy/beige colour.
You were inspired by the work of artist Saloua Raouda Choucair – why did her work in particular interest you?
Saloua Raouda Choucair was actually one of the first abstract artists in the Middle East. I nd her work very inspiring and ahead of its time Her sculptures are a mix of geometric and organic shapes made of wood, divided into different pieces and combined in various ways.
Your style of design is unique – how would you sum it up?
I’d say it is modern and minimalistic with a twist and a focus on the details. It has a masculinity to it, aimed at the working woman with designs that can be worn from morning to evening with the simple addition of accessories.
What is something you would still like to achieve with the brand that you haven’t had the chance to do yet?
I just started so there is still a very long way to go; but we are aiming to have pop-up stores and events so that people can get to know the brand in the Middle East.
Who or what is your biggest inspiration?
I love the aesthetics of the brand “The Row”. I find their style so elegant while being modern and peaceful at the same time.
You had a diverse upbringing, how do you think this has inspired you in what you do?
My upbringing definitely trained your brain to incorporate new things into my life and expand my thinking and creative processes. It helped me to be able to adapt and re-interpret things in my own way.
You have lived in many countries – where is the place that you call “home”?
Lebanon makes me feel at home. I don’t know if it has to do with what my country is going through at the moment, but as soon as I am on the plane to Beirut I feel a certain peace inside. It feels right.
How do you think Middle Eastern designers are having an impact on a global scale?
Middle Eastern designers have always been famous for their couture designs, their attention to details, and the focus on femininity. There is a wave of new designers who are doing really well and I am so proud to see designers experimenting with ready-to-wear pieces that are inclusive of art and focusing on modern-day problems such as sustainability. There is a feeling of being aware of the times we are living in.
Who is the woman you would most love to see wearing your designs?
Before I started the brand always wanted to see my mother wearing my out ts. Now she wears them and it feels special every time I see her.
Who is the woman that you design for?
I design for active women who see dressing up as a ritual that allows them to switch from casual to chic.
What is the one item every woman should have in her wardrobe?
If I had to pick one I would say a blazer. It is something that’s really empowering.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in life since starting your own brand?
I had to train my mind into thinking that every problem has a solution, even if it seems like there is no answer. That was a lesson I learnt and it was a hard one!
What advice would you give to others that want to set up their own brand?
I’d suggest they start small and take it step by step. Surround themselves with people that believe in them no matter what, because they will need them more than they ever think.
What is the professional motto you live by?
“Step by step.” In Italy, we always say “Piano piano”.
How do you deal with knock backs or keep motivated when things fail?
I’ll be very honest. I cry my heart out, get my things together and move on. There is no other choice. Luckily I am not alone. I have full support from my family and a team to hold on to. Trust me it is not easy, but I guess it is the same way for everyone starting from scratch.
What is one thing you would like to achieve in 2020?
I am usually very cautious and take things one step at a time. I also honestly don’t speak a lot of future plans and wishes as I like to work on them silently; but like any other business, the ultimate goal is to keep on making it work, expanding and growing while still being able to do what I love. I would love the explore more the artistic creative process of the brand.
What does the next decade have in store for you?
Maybe more artistic collaboration, with lots of positive surprises, I hope!