When Milan-based Helen Nonini launched her consultancy agency H.Edge in 2015, it was with the vision to fill a niche that she could credibly and creatively cover. “We bring out the best of a company’s key assets, then shape them to better fit present and future challenges,” she explains about her platform that specializes in brand experiences and image. “We started in remote working mode, without offices. Paperless without business cards, and above all developing a model that would empower young talents – especially women,” she says. Nonini started her career in investment banking and private equity while passing through fundraising and non-profit sectors. Upon leaving the financial world, she landed the role of head of operations at luxury concierge service company Quintessentially. Equipped with contacts that she’s fostered over the years, she now enchants clients with her intuitive solutions. “I’m working with the main financial institutions of the country alongside supporting the top Italian institute for independent clinical research; a high-quality delivery service; and an online fashion marketplace connecting young and talented designers that do not have distribution channels to worldwide consumers,” she shares. In addition to H.Edge, her professional balancing act also includes partnerships for two startups that focus on mental health and yoga.
A tour of turbans
Nonini has a serious presence, in part because of a specific signature – her turbans. How many exactly? “I have more than 100 turbans and I love them all because they are one-of-a-kind pieces,” she says of her headwear, all handmade by Milanese milliner Altalen. Bold in shapes, patterns, and colors, her turbans are an extension of her style. “I’m effortless in my approach because I follow my instinct and try to always feel at ease,” says the Pomellato brand ambassador, wearing a coordinating pastel Pucci pajama set and complementing silk turban. She relies on Massimo Alba shirts, Nasco Unico blazers, dresses by Diane von Furstenberg, Missoni, and Stephan Janson, and Fratelli Rossetti flats to sail her through the spring season.
The entrepreneur’s style approach to minimal cuts with flashes of color also applies to her jewelry collection. A Pomellato Nudo necklace and Iconica chain link bracelet soften her aesthetic of strong architectural lines, as do her Nudo rings featuring a flash of bright stones. Her grandfather’s watch adds a touch of bygone-era charm to her everyday looks.
Hydration is key to Nonini’s daily beauty regimen, and Santa Maria Novella Vitamin Cosmetic Oil occupies space on her vanity alongside Augustinus Bader, Helena Rubinstein, and Mi-rê creams. With Egyptian-Iranian roots from her mother’s side and Italian on her father’s side, her approach to fragrance is ingrained through her heritage. “Being born and raised in the Middle East has influenced my use of essences,” she says. She creates her own bespoke scent by layering six different perfumes and oils.
Food for the soul
“My favorite restaurant in Milan is Soulgreen,” shares Nonini, pointing to its healthy food and atmosphere. Nestled in the heart of the Garibaldi district, the restaurant with its exposed beam ceiling and lush greenery is known for a vegan menu of smoothies and quinoa or rice bowls bursting with a medley of fresh vegetables. Meanwhile, you’ll catch Nonini in the artistic district of Brera peeking over a menu at Osteria Stendhal for its contemporary and traditional Milanese cuisine. Asian Mood is her go-to for dim sum, while Davide Oldani is her destination for a multisensory gastronomical experience.
Unplug and unwind
Nonini unfolds her day with a routine. “I open my windows, turn on some music and send my friends songs,” she says. “Letting the light in and giving rhythm to my day helps me approach my activities with a good vibe.” Another fundamental aspect of her day is devouring a good book by candlelight. Currently on her nightstand are Illusions by Richard Bach and The Soul’s Code by James Hillman. She herself is the author of business novel Professione Problem Solver. Meanwhile, spending time outdoors is what grounds Nonini. “I love nature, long walks in the countryside, and spending time at Lake Como – it’s a place I’m strongly and emotionally tied to,” she notes, adding, “Meditation, exercise, and massages are always done with my phone off to be disconnected from the rest of the world, but connected with myself.”
Originally published in the April 2021 issue of Vogue Arabia