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Exploring Beauty with Nathalie Trad
Inspiration may be everywhere, but Nathalie Trad’s creations take more than just ideas from the natural world. Using mixed media including shells, resin, metal and wood, Nathalie creates one-of-a-kind purses that are more of an objet d’art than a simple accessory. Crafted by hand, often taking upwards of 300 hours, Nathalie’s pieces are sculptural, eye-catching and sustainably sourced and made. With unparalleled craftsmanship and artistry, Nathalie takes a modern and handcrafted approach to luxury, eschewing cold mass production in favor of the warmth and tactility of artisanal practices. Born in Beirut, raised in Dubai and having studied in Paris and New York, Nathalie – just like our founder, Hind – is a global citizen. Her artistic approach and diligence with her craft has made the Nathalie Trad line one of the most coveted amongst fashion insiders and garnered countless industry accolades. We caught up with Nathalie, to learn more about her ‘melting pot’ approach to inspiration and painstaking approach to craftsmanship, as well as how she marries together style and substance.
Tell us about Nathalie Trad’s origin story - what was your vision?
For me, designing is a process that involves questioning everything in my surroundings in an attempt to re-interpret what I already know, as well as being observational and always trying to discover something new. Accessories design gave me a way to solve the puzzle of: “How do I take traditional shapes, ubiquitous in our everyday lives and radically transform them, deconstructing and recreating them from a new perspective?” I didn't want to just create accessories, I wanted to create wearable sculptures that broke away from the mold.
Do you have any advice for young women trying to break through in the industry?
Trust your gut and stay true to yourself.
Can you walk us through your creative process?
My creative process starts with an idea. Something that sparks my inspiration and leads my mind to a parallel universe where I feel like I am running at 200 km/h. This is the time where I sketch uncontrollably and allow my ideas to take a course of their own. Once I am done with this stage, I look through all the drawings and start editing and refining my ideas which start turning into products. I create technical sheets and sometimes clay prototypes to help me visualize the final piece. I then start creating molds and prototypes, work on combining materials and testing out new techniques. It's such an exciting process that always leads to new unexpected discoveries!
What were your favorite materials / techniques to work with when designing your previous collections?
It’s very important for me to maintain the design ethos that is at the core of my brand; a design philosophy that attributes the highest importance to innovation and the creation of unique pieces. Every season we strive to create innovative clutches that are irresistible objects of desire, using a combination of distinctive materials to create sculptural “objets” that look as if they’ve been unearthed beneath deep waters—much like a precious gemstone.
Where do you draw inspiration from, within Lebanon and beyond?
I would say my biggest inspiration is my surrounding environment. I am inspired by everything that I see in my day-to-day life and by my travels. I constantly push myself to observe and scrutinize my surroundings, and to constantly question and reinterpret what I see.
I also like to think of my creations as architectural works on a small scale. I look to architecture from a physical aspect: geometry, proportions, ergonomics, structure for inspiration but beyond that, I study architectural principles, and ideologies as a means to create context and drive my process.
Louis Kahn, James Stirling, Walter Gropius, Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid are some of the architects whose aesthetics and philosophies have impacted my design thinking and some of my pieces.
The Art Deco movement of the 1920s and ‘30s has also proven to be an endless fount of inspiration for me. Through the seasons I have tapped into the free spirited Art deco luxurious sensibility by creating sculptural clutches that are both irresistible objects of desire as well as precious heirlooms that can be passed down from one generation to the next.
How important is craftsmanship for your business and within your community?
Each clutch requires at least two weeks to be meticulously crafted from inception. This involves molding, curing, preparing each piece of shell, inlaying, lining and applying the finishing touches.
This process is masterfully executed by artisans who have been taught a craft that is only passed on from father to son, through the generations. Craftsmanship is at the heart of what we do, and will always remain an integral part of whatever we create.
How is your Middle Eastern heritage present in your designs?
I was born in Lebanon and grew up in Dubai. My cultural heritage is embedded in me, it is running in my veins, imprinted on my identity. It is hard to define and intangible but it is my core and the basis of who I am. This is where my passion for design was born, this is where my journey began. When I create accessories my personality seeps into every aspect of my designs. My entire collection is a true reflection of my identity, my aesthetic is undeniably Middle Eastern with Western touches, a marriage of East and West.
What’s next for the Nathalie Trad brand?
I would like to see the Nathalie Trad brand evolve into an all-encompassing lifestyle brand.
However, it is very important for us to maintain the design ethos that is at the core of our brand. A design philosophy that attributes the highest importance to innovation and the creation of sustainable, unique, timeless and meaningful pieces.
What is your skincare philosophy?
I am a working mother, which means time is never really on my side. My skincare philosophy is one that prioritizes simplicity and efficiency using clean products.
What is your favorite skin care moment or step?
The moment I wash and cleanse my face at the end of the day washing away all the impurities, literally and metaphorically.
What is the best beauty advice you've ever received?
Maintain a healthy diet and hydrate!
What is the skincare hero that you swear by?
A good vitamin C serum for an immediate brightening boost and glow!
Discover Nathalie's collections, visit http://www.nathalietrad.com