One of the best things about being in Dubai is that we're spoiled for choice when it comes to up and coming designers and brands. Dubai fashionistas have managed to hone their skills at spotting which designer is really worth our attention and our money. Talar Nina is proving to be one such designer.
Her self-named brand is all about aesthetic fun – wearable and versatile pieces that feel and look good no matter your style. Despite being worn by mainly women, Talar Nina's jackets have found their way into men's closets as well!
Born in Los Angeles, Talar moved to London to pursue her education in the arts, where she became infatuated with the city's history. After relocating to Dubai, the Armenian designer started to build her platform and brand Talar Nina.
And it seems to be going more than well with Talar launching her third collection, Eastern Promise. Inspired by her love of the Middle East, Eastern Promise has a mix of delicately embroidered bomber jackets, ornamental track pants, and skirts, all of which are both elegant and comfortable.
The sequined collection consists of four bomber jackets, track pants, joggers, a long sleeveless vest, and mid-length skirt. Two of the bomber jackets will also be available for men.
The bomber jackets are one of our favourite pieces. Unique, comfortable, they easily transition your look from day to night. And guess what – they look great on guys as well!
One of the best parts about owning a piece from Talar Nina is knowing that the philanthropic designer also donates a percentage of profits to the 'Moving Forward' Centre for children in Armenia's second largest city of Gyumri.
We had the chance to chat with Talar about her latest collection, her inspirations, and her creative process.
When did you start designing? When did you know that you wanted to be a designer?
My first exposure to fashion design started while doing my A levels in Textiles, Art History and Fine Art. I enjoyed the Textile class the most and started designing pieces around specific fabrications for fun. It was my Fine Art teacher in London, Mrs. Skinner, who ultimately encouraged me to pursue a career in fashion and the rest is history.
Who do you design for?
My brand is worn by women of all ages but I have a growing male client base and am exploring a more unisex range of jackets and trousers that can be worn in different ways. There are no age limits with our clothes, we have clients from 17 years old to 80!
What would you say are your major aesthetic or cultural influences?
My frequent trips to Armenia are a source of inspiration – the architecture, art, embroidery and needle lace. Spending summers with my extended family in Amman, Jordan has also given me opportunities to travel throughout the Arab world and visit cities like Beirut, Aleppo and Damascus and experience the history and diversity of the region.
What's your creative process like? Does your initial vision change as you start working?
My creative process usually starts with a variety of images on a mood board. I will sketch out silhouettes and then focus on sourcing unique fabrications, trimmings and embroidery motifs.
What are your strengths as a designer?
Fit and function are important elements in my design ethos. It's easy to overlook these with so much choice these days but I believe if a piece is well designed and versatile and made from quality fabrics … chances are you will keep it for years to come and that piece will become a cherished favourite in your closet.
What have been the biggest issues you've faced from a business perspective here in Dubai?
My brand was launched in 2016 and the most challenging aspect was finding a professional workshop willing to work with us as we started off with small production runs. It took us a few tries but the tailors we are working with now are amazing and we couldn't be happier. One thing I have learned is that it's vital to live close to your production facility. Monitoring every step of the production process allows for better quality control and trouble shooting.
In a highly competitive market how do you stay relevant?
In this highly competitive market, my brand hopes to introduce new pieces every 2-3 months, our aim is to launch four collections a year, and add holiday and Ramadan collections to provide options for our clientele. We also will be taking part in pop-ups around the region, along with a constant stream of new content on social media platforms.
Fashion is a sector where one needs to combine creativity and commerce – how do you do this? Is one part stronger than the other for you?
For me, I think creativity and commerce go hand in hand. Without one there wouldn't be the other. Ultimately, I want people to enjoy wearing my brand and become repeat customers! Although I do prefer the creative side of the business, I had to learn the commerce side very quickly or I would not have been able to adapt.
Tell us about your new collection Eastern Promise.
The latest collection, Eastern Promise, was inspired from my many trips to the Levant, mainly Lebanon and Jordan. This part of the world has always been considered a cross roads between East and West. The 'Weaver' bomber jacket and track pants are inspired by the intricate art of carpet weaving. The 'Gigi' bomber and 'Gigi' vest are made from an all over embroidered fabric of crème cotton thread on a black base with a delicate sprinkling of sequins for a touch of sparkle. The 'Blossom' jackets are embellished with gold thread and mirrors and tiny pearls and stones designed to create a beautiful and exotic floral motif.
How do you combine Middle Eastern inspirations into pieces that are modern and contemporary?
Middle Eastern art, architecture, and music are grounded in ancient traditions that somehow remain timeless. I enjoy curating and combining these old elements with new ideas to produce clothes that are wearable and timeless yet still offering fresh looks every season.
In your opinion, what is the difference between style and fashion?
In my opinion fashion and style are two different things. Style is how you express yourself, how you interpret what is in fashion at that moment … It is about your taste and personal preference. Fashion is driven by market forces, trends, influencers and is evolving all the time. It is my hope that my designs will always be more about style and less about fashion.
Who are your constant muses? Or do you have a different inspiration per collection?
At the moment my muse for the Eastern Promise collection is Queen Rania of Jordan. She was definitely someone I had in mind when designing the new pieces, especially the 'Gigi' vest.
Who were some of the designers that have influenced your style?
A few designers that have influenced my personal style would have to be Alexander Wang - he started the luxury streetwear aesthetic, – Yves Saint Laurent and Valentino - both legends in the history of 20th century fashion and they were dedicated to making women look elegant, beautiful and timeless.
Where would you like to see Talar Nina in the next five years?
In five years time I hope to see it become a staple brand where clients go for their fix of embroidered, elegant and easy to wear pieces! I would also love to see the brand stocked in a few more stores around the Middle East and Los Angeles.
What is one of your biggest fashion pet peeves?
One of my biggest fashion pet peeves are people who become slaves to the latest trends and when leggings are worn outside of the gym – they are not trousers!