These Saudi royals consider true wealth to be opportunity for all. Discover the fashion communities they are leading from the ground up
HRH Princess Nourah Al Faisal
Designer at Nuun Jewels and founder of Adhlal
Ever since the Saudi Vision 2030 plan was announced in April 2016, the Kingdom has been going through a creative and cultural renaissance as it opens itself up to the rest of the world and makes fundamental shifts in its laws and infrastructure. These changes have inspired many of the country’s leaders on the international stage to do their part to support this wide-ranging initiative. One of which is the world-renowned Saudi jewelry designer HRH Princess Nourah Al Faisal, the founder of the Nuun Jewels.
Al Faisal is taking the knowledge she has accrued selling her one-of-a-kind jewelry in Paris and pay it forward back in her native country. Her initial goal was to bring her company’s production back to Saudi. “It just made more sense to me to bring it back home and so I started to explore how I would do that and what it would look like,” says Al Faisal.
She soon realized that what started like a simple enough endeavor was much more complex. More importantly, that she wasn’t the only one trying to navigate the ever-changing government rules and regulations of a country currently in the middle of systemic changes. There was no website or information hub that could provide Al Faisal with answers in regards to everything from import and export rates and copyright laws to rules regarding hiring international staff to train local hires.
“As I was looking around, trying to figure it out, I was bumping into other designers who were living outside Saudi who also wanted to bring their manufacturing back to the Kingdom and move back home to be part of this amazing experience and transformation we are going through right now. But they were just as confused and in the dark as I was,” explains Al Faisal with a laugh.
“There is no place more exciting right now to be, as a designer, than in Saudi”
Her goal has always been to empower Saudis. She decided to create Adhlal, a social enterprise designed to “serve and champion the local design industry in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.” The design scope for the organization is all-encompassing, from interior and jewelry design to architecture and graphic design. The first big initiative to come out of Adhlal is an inaugural report that will be published next year. It is dedicated to the design sector of Saudi Arabia, which was crafted from research culled from buyers, designers, and design students in the region.
“A wonderful byproduct of building this report is that we have created a community of designers who are banding together to help one another,” says Al Faisal. “Saudi has a young dynamic sector who are extremely creative. We want the community to work collectively to solve their own problems, share their knowledge, and take advantage of the changes that are going on. In my opinion, there is no place more exciting right now to be, as a designer, than in Saudi.”
HRH Princess Deemah Bint Mansour Bin Saud Alsaud
Founder of Personage concept store in Riyadh
For any metropolis to even begin to consider itself a fashion hub, it has to have at least one cutting-edge concept store. A place where local fashion and up-and-coming designers commingle with international brands. A place to hang out with friends. And a place where pop-up shops, art exhibitions, and musical performances are always the order of the day. In other words, a place that is much more than just a store. It is an artisan community center.
“I wanted to create a place where art, culture, and fashion would be able to come together”
HRH Princess Deemah Bint Mansour Bin Saud Alsaud is a longtime fan of traveling and shopping the globe for unique regional creations. During her travels, she realized that, compared to what she was seeing abroad, her luxe local shopping experiences in Saudi were somewhat restricted. She decided to fix that problem herself. So two years ago she opened Saudi Arabia’s first true fashion concept store, which she named Personage. “Our country has this tremendous pool of talents and creative individuals who have not had the chance, or a space, to showcase their uniqueness to the wider community,” explains Alsaud. “I wanted to create a place where art, culture, and fashion would be able to come together. The name of the store, Personage, came from this idea of presenting the value of each of us as individuals in an inclusive environment.”
Located in the heart of the city, Personage has quickly become a center of cool in the Kingdom. The three-floor store dedicates each level to different aspects of creative encouragement. On the ground floor, clothing, footwear, perfume, and jewelry brands share an open-plan space, where international labels like Les Benjamins, Qasimi, and Homiés Marbella mix with local favorites such as 1886, Ish, and Galag. Upstairs on the second floor is a café, while the top floor is dedicated to a rotation of artistic displays of creativity, be that music, painting, photography, or fashion.
“One of my greatest joys is watching how our customers have made Personage into something much more than a store. It is a community now,” says Alsaud. “For me, style is how we express our identity. However, the pieces we choose and how we buy is something that gives us deeper insight into our values and what we care about. I believe in brands and new designers that express care, creativity, passion, and vision in what they create. Those designers are typically what you may find in Personage, and also in my wardrobe.”
Originally published in the March 2020 issue of Vogue Arabia