14 October, 2013

A chat with Joanna and Tatiana // Vanina Design

As promised, although slightly later than intended, here is my interview with the founders and designers of Vanina fashion brand. I sat and got to know these girls over a coffee and fresh juice last week, just before their exhibit at Vogue Fashion Dubai Experience, in Dubai Mall. Here is what they had to say...

Image Des "I let Joanne do the talking, she is better in english than me! We agree on everything so she can speak and I will agree."

How did Vanina come about? Where did it start?
It started in Beirut when we were 19 but, even before that, we were childhood friends and we always used to create things together and share ideas. Where Vanina really took off, though, was with coins. After the war in Lebanon, the currency went downhill and so the coins were practically worthless and we started making jewellery with them [this resulted in their first line, Coined]! The necklaces were just for our friends at first but it became very successful all of a sudden. People started to ask "where did you buy that?", so we decided to set it up as a company. 

How have you found that transition - from being two young girls making jewellery at home to running a business?
We still like to focus on the creative process and quality of the products, rather than the commercialisation of the brand. At the moment, we are both designers and directors but, because of our nature, it is the design and identity of the brand that we like to focus on - it just comes more naturally to us!

Your jewellery lines are so varied and creative - where do you get your inspiration from?
Yes, at the moment we have six lines and they are all very different. Every idea that comes to the table we explore it, because sometimes it is the very basic or crazy idea that we thought didn't have potential at the beginning, which turns out to be the most interesting.

We get inspired by very different things and not necessarily in the field of fashion - sometimes a movie or a certain social situation will spark a new idea. What we love about fashion and design is that it is a field that really allows you to create a lot and be innovative. This is especially true with jewellery because, jewellery, you wear it and its supposed to be beautiful but it is also an opportunity for a statement. So, for example, one of the lines that we're showing now, called 'Unlocked', it uses keys.

Yes I've seen those pieces, they're amazing! Tell me about the recycled materials that you use...
It actually started very spontaneously, with the coins, and we liked it so much that we decided to take the concept further. It highlights the potential that everyday objects have and it also gently makes people think about waste management in another way. We take advantage of the opportunity to send a message to society and talk about issues in an artistic and creative way. So, for example, one of our bijoux (jewellery) lines, called 'Cease-Fire', is created using matches is meant to prompt a message of peace, in these times of intense violence.

That has to be one of my favourite collections of all. As with all of your jewellery lines, the pieces look so intricate and hard to make, though! Tell me more about the processes you use to create your jewellery...
We try, if you like, to explore the local crafts that are traditional and inherited from generations ago but also to marry them with new and innovative ways and techniques of production, such as 3d printing, laser cutting, which give our products a new, modern edge.

What interests us most about fashion is the back side that you don't necessarily see. It is actually the relationship between the front and the back. There are so many people behind the scenes putting in effort - producing the line and thinking about the line - and we are so pleased to have such a great team working with us.

What has been the highlight of your journey so far?
We take most satisfaction in the small events that are so monumental to us. It can be the small things that make more of a difference. For instance, we are so happy and honoured by the popularity of our brand in Japan, a country that we think of as such a creative and exporting country itself. For us, from a small country like Lebanon, to be so well implemented there is something else and is an adventure in itself!

Incredible! And what are your plans for the future?
It is a big satisfaction for us to be able to export our brand and we see that there is a lot of potential to expand globally. At the same time, we want to explore the local stand that we have and that we think is very rich. Through this, we are discovering further opportunities in our own country and throughout the Middle East, and wonderful people who are wanting to collaborate with the brand, which is very exciting!

Finally, what advice would you give other people who are thinking of starting up their own fashion brand?
Oh wow, I think we would say just don't be scared, take the risk and follow your passion. Have fun with it, but it is also important to set goals and stay focused. Always stay focused.

Image Des

^^^ 'Cease-fire' by Vanina Design ^^^


Vanina products will be sold in Professionelle Boutique, Dubai Mall, for a month. They are also stocked in Sauce and Bloomingdales.


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