“When you know, you know” – those are the famous five words used the world over by anyone who’s ever been in love. The same can be said about those born with a creative gift; they often know with full certainty that they are destined for an artistic path at an unusually young age. This was the case for Richard Noura, the Lebanese-born accessories designer who entered the world with a pencil in his hands – according to his parents. Having realized his destiny at the young age of seven, he studied in Paris and went on to work for iconic brands Balmain and Swarovski. In 2010, Noura launched his own line of handbags and accessories.
For his first interview in the Middle East, Noura talks to Savoir Flair about his creative journey, his biggest influences, his plans for the region, and the latest collection, which you can see exclusively in the gallery above.
You come from a very creative and artistic family. Growing up, did you always know that you would end up working in design?
Surrounded by my father, who was a painter and a calligrapher, and my aunt, who worked in the fashion industry and had her own couture workshop, aesthetic and creativity were my keywords as a child. I was always drawing wherever I could when I was young. My specialities were dresses and accessories for all the women who were living around me. Like my parents said, I was born with a pencil in my hands. I always knew fashion was the world I would belong to. In fact, it was a Christian Lacroix haute couture fashion show that I saw at the age of seven that really was the revelation to me.
After graduating, you had a successful career working at Balmain and Swarovski. Can you tell us a bit about each of these experiences and what you took away from the respective brands?
Each of those experiences was very interesting and inspirational. At Swarovski, it was all about crystals – an atmosphere of sparkles and brightness, like a fairytale. At Balmain, it was the magic of couture, the house’s history, and how it evolved to modernity with that special rock ‘n’ roll twist that only Balmain has the secret to. In both instances, my job was to create for the Swarovski woman and the Balmain woman and how I envisioned her, but taking into consideration the DNA of each of the brands. The Richard Noura brand is another story – it’s my story, with a unique style that only requires my creativity and my soul. The only thing it has in common with Swarovski and Balmain is this respect of craftsmanship and savoir faire of Parisian couture.
Your designs are very much influenced by the 16th century. Can you tell us a bit about what draws you to this time period in history?
Well, I am absolutely fascinated by the gardens and the art of that period. The gardens of that era were designed as a feast for the senses, so I like to incorporate that concept into my designs.
The ‘Charles’ emblem is a recognizable design of the Richard Noura brand. How many sketches did you draw before getting it exactly the way you envisioned?
It was actually the one and only sketch I drew. It was so crystal clear in my head that it came out right away in that single sketch.
Do you have a favorite piece from the collection?
I love all of them, but I have to admit that the ‘Charles’ has a particular place in my heart, as it was my first baby.
What is the most exciting thing about being a designer? Is there a step in the design process that you most look forward to?
It is the creativity itself that I most look forward to, the fact that I start from something inspirational and develop the concept until it materializes into the ultimate piece.
Is there a designer that you have looked up to along the way?
Like I said before, Christian Lacroix was a revelation to me through his romantic and dreamy haute couture collections. Another strong creative influence of mine is Mademoiselle Coco Chanel, as she is really the ultimate visionary of her time.
What legacy do you hope to leave in the design world?
I want to be women’s best friend – to be able to hold them by the hand in every circumstance. Whether they are going to a casual lunch, an evening gala, or to a business dinner, there is a Richard Noura bag designed for every woman. I’ve just always admired and wanted to be the companion of every elegant and stylish woman.
Do you plan to one day open a boutique in the Middle East – perhaps in Beirut or Dubai?
Of course, I do hope to create my own flagship stores in the Middle East, as I am keenly interested in the fashion scene there.
How important is the Middle Eastern market to you?
The Middle Eastern market is extremely important and has really begun to find its niche in the fashion world. Middle Eastern women are known for their refinement and elegance throughout the whole world, and I look forward to introducing them to my brand.
What’s next for Richard Noura?
A new destination has become an inspiration for an upcoming collection… I look forward to beginning the design process and sharing it with my fans.
For more information and to shop the collection, visit www.richardnoura.com.