Over the years, the late Frida Kahlo has inspired many, but more recently, the Mexican artist served as the muse for designer and founder of Ingie Paris, Ingie Chalhoub. Paying tribute to Kahlo’s multifaceted personality, Chalhoub presented her label’s Spring/Summer 2020 collection at an intimate breakfast at the contemporary Peruvian restaurant Coya Dubai.
The collection titled “An Ode To Life,” boasted a diverse range of fabrics and silhouettes, channeling every side of the pioneering artist, which live on to this day: her role in society as a feminist icon, as a political activist, and simply, as a strong yet sensitive woman. Structured bustiers and leather harnesses in the collection were reminiscent of the health contraptions worn by Kahlo during the time she was physically unwell. While every piece in the collection is bold and unique in itself, Chalhoub’s faithfulness to her label’s DNA still shines through with her use of delicate embroidery and embellishments.
After having feasted their eyes on Ingie Paris’s new creations, guests sat down for a hearty breakfast surrounded by art. Vogue Arabia caught up with the designer herself to know more about her work, her label, and how she does it all as a woman who has played a major role in revolutionizing the luxury landscape in the Middle East.
How would you describe your Spring/Summer 2020 collection?
An ode to life and an ode to celebrating a woman, who, in her own way has been an inspiration to art, to fashion, and to many of us, especially women. She [Frida Kahlo] had her own struggles, and this woman has particularly been an inspiration to me because she touched my heart. We as women have our own struggles, and we know it.
How would you describe the Ingie Paris woman?
The Ingie Paris woman is feminine and sophisticated, yet very modern and contemporary. She is living her actual life. She is bold, strong, empowered, and inspires others. She has this aura which makes a lot of people turn their heads around when she enters a room or when she speaks out.
What is it like to be a woman at the helm of such a successful and ever-growing brand?
I’m very much a feminist [she laughs], I’m sure you understood that! My whole life has been me working my way up to lead the way for other women. It always was and is really important for me because I saw a lot of women struggling in my environment. So, for me, I needed to lead the way somehow and being a pioneer in many ways, bringing top designers and luxury to the Middle East at a time when it was not the trend, and convincing those brands of the potential of the market of the Middle East as well as convince, or educate the Middle East on luxury products. While for me, leading the way for women as well, [to show] that they can go there together. It’s always been about leading the way and showing the path.
What is your opinion on the evolving fashion landscape in the Middle East?
It has evolved a lot in the past decade and I am very very proud of a lot of local talents who have aimed to become global. Of course, there is a lot of competition from the West, more and more, but, the East can make its way out and I do believe in that. And this is what I would like to show through Ingie Paris — that we can be luxury, we can be local-international, and go out globally.
Why did you launch your first UAE store here in Dubai?
It’s a symbol for showing the mix of cultures. As a French and Lebanese person, I did want to show that even though my atelier and all my talents are (for now) based in Europe and Paris, because Paris is still the capital of fashion, I am a woman based in Dubai who has her children who grew up here and who has helped Dubai evolve into what it is today — a fashion hub, that has become one of the most important cities of fashion in the world. So, it’s symbolic having my first flagship in Dubai as I want to recognize that Dubai is also becoming the next capital of fashion and of luxury.
What advice would you give aspiring designers in the region?
Perseverance is very important. Success does not come alone, it comes through hard work, perseverance, and patience.