At this point, it really goes without saying that it’s been a tough year for everyone. However, it’s with particular emphasis that we mention the resilience and the dedication of regional designers, who have faced unsettling and uncertain futures when it comes to maintaining their businesses in a year when so many people changed their shopping habits. Regional designers are close to our hearts, and we have spent 11 years discovering them, profiling them, and supporting them; it’s written into the very DNA of Savoir Flair.
When we heard about the new Bloomingdale’s Middle East ‘Love Local’ in-store and online pop-up – which was created to celebrate regional brands with 14 unique designers showcasing their stellar collections across womenswear, fine jewelry, accessories and homeware – we couldn’t have been more excited. Of the list of those included in the pop-up are so many SF favorites: Madiyah Al Sharqi, Bouguessa, KAGE, Bazza Alzouman, and of course, L’AFSHAR.
Since Lilian Afshar first debuted L’AFSHAR in 2013, we’ve not only been huge fans but also vocal champions of her line of stylish acrylic box bags. Her leather versions came later, and were equally sophisticated and obsession-worthy. Her brand grew in popularity so much so that we’ve spotted them on the arms of Queen Rania, Beyoncé, Kylie Jenner, and other modern style icons. For every milestone Afshar achieved, she only became more unstoppable as a designer. When 2020 rolled around, she, like the rest of us, was optimistic about the future, but excitement was quickly tempered by a pandemic.
In honor of the Bloomingdale’s Middle East ‘Love Local’ pop-up, L’AFSHAR, and the newly launched L’AFSHAR Studio, we sat down with an exclusive interview with Lilian Afshar to discuss her participation in the project and how she navigated a challenging year. Listen in.
What has 2020 been like for you in terms of what you expected to happen and what actually happened?
What I have really adapted to is taking it day by day. We are in a time where unpredictable events are taking place. It has taught me to be more flexible and focus on solutions rather than obstacles. To be honest I didn’t know what to expect as it’s a first for us all. I am just really grateful to be in a country where I feel safe personally.
What adjustments did you make to keep your business going strong during the pandemic?
My plan to expand into homeware is something that I have been wanting to do for years. The lockdown allowed me to fully work and complete this passion project. I believe now more than ever the real importance of not having all your eggs in one basket.
What kinds of triumphs and challenges have you faced this year?
The challenges we had were in the beginning of lockdown, when we had to pause production but still had orders to work on. The triumph would be our L’AFSHAR Studio soft launch last month.
What are your thoughts on being a part of the Bloomingdale’s ‘Love Local’ pop-up?
I’m really thrilled to be partnering with Bloomingdale’s for this project. We need to support local businesses/brands now more than ever and it’s great that Bloomingdale’s is highlighting this in their pop-up. We have so many talented designers in this city and it’s great to collectively see them in one space.
What can visitors to the pop-up expect to find from L’AFSHAR?
A great mix of our acrylic and leather pieces. The minis are the best-selling styles, for leather you will find a palette of olive green, burgundy, and chocolate brown colors.
You recently launched L’AFSHAR Studio. What is it and why did you decide to launch it this year?
L’AFSHAR Studio is our leap into homeware. Interiors and décor, especially vintage pieces, have always been the source of inspiration for me when designing the bags. I love working with acrylic and resin so much, there are so many techniques, colors, thicknesses that we can’t do when it comes to bags. L’AFSHAR Studio is an extension of my creativity. I had planned to launch this in 2021, but the free time that came with lockdown allowed me to push the launch forward.
What’s coming up for you in terms of collections and their releases?
In December, we will be adding some new pieces for L’AFSHAR Studio along with some new acrylic colors for bags.