What goes into making one of summer’s most exclusive bags? Cherine Magrabi talks to MOJEH about her debut collection, 13 BC, escapism and sustainability
13 BC IS YOUR DEBUT LAUNCH – TELL US MORE…
“The collection depicts the story of a mischievous woman, because every woman has a bit of mischief in her. And the designs pay tribute to that moment when you want to escape and go to a place where you can disconnect with what’s around you, and reconnect with yourself.”
WHERE DO YOU ESCAPE TO?
“Any place that I can reconnect with and nurture myself, meditate, and spend time with people I don’t see very often. Sometimes just being alone in a place that is comforting to you, or travelling is rewarding. I like to go to places that allow me to connect with nature, where you learn something new about the place, the people… I recently went to Cappadocia in Turkey, which was magical, and I’d like to see Iceland, Argentina, and more of Mexico.”
IS SUSTAINABILITY IMPORTANT TO YOU?
“Yes, I’m very conscious of that. My way to be more sustainable is to work with artisans and protect the crafts that are slowly being extinct. For example, enamelling is a dying craft – fewer and fewer people are doing it the way we do – by hand. So each of our clutches is handpainted, each colour is mixed separately…”
WHY DID YOU ONLY CREATE 13 DESIGNS WITH 25 PIECES OF EACH?
“To keep the product limited, so that the owner feels special owning a piece, and knows that it is timeless. People also want to find things that have personality and the piece someone buys will say something about the character of the customer.”
TELL US ABOUT THE LYRICS ON THE BAGS…
“One bag has ‘Je suis venue te dire que… Je m’enfuis’, which translates as ‘I came to tell you… that I’m escaping’. It’s a play on words from a Serge Gainsbourg song. Both Serge and Jane Birkin have always been an inspiration to me.”
WHO ELSE HAS INSPIRED YOU?
“Coco Chanel, but not only for her designs, but for being the first person that celebrated feminism in such a gracious and elegant way – the way we should really celebrate feminism. At that time, there was no movement, she was doing it by herself and with such grace.”
DO YOU HAVE A LIFE MOTTO?
“I like the idea of ‘nursing the kid in you’, to continue to be mesmerised, and to find beauty and positivity in every situation.”
WHAT CAUSES ARE CLOSEST TO YOUR HEART?
“The most helpless and fragile members of society, so I’m particularly sensitive to children and the elderly. I also have a non-profit foundation called House of Today that identifies, nurtures and mentors Lebanese designers.”
WHAT IS YOUR HOPE FOR THE FUTURE?
“It’s the same around the world – everyone wants to reach equality. It’s not a battle between men and women, more allowing us to benefit from the same opportunities, and accepting the potential of women. I think that starts at home. Parents have to view their daughters as not only caretakers, but as equal members of society who have equal rights and can give back to society in the same way as men and boys.”
BOOK YOU LAST READ
“I’ve just finished Patti Smith’s Just Kids. There are a few quotes that I really like, such as ‘I don’t think, I feel’, and, for the hopeless romantic in me, ‘We went our separate ways but within walking distance of one another’.”
“I’d say my move to Lebanon, where I witnessed tragedy converted into optimism. I think people here wash away their troubles and always seem to look on the brighter side. They always have this positive attitude.”
SAGE ADVICE YOU’D GIVE YOUR YOUNGER SELF?
“Don’t be afraid of what people think and learn to voice your opinion. Growing up, I was timid and shy, and while I always had my own views on things, I only got the courage to say them when I matured.”
THE ART OF BEAUTIFUL DRESSING IS…
“Never comprising on elegance, whatever state of mind you’re in.”
“I try to mix current fashion with local designs, so if I’m in Turkey or Morocco, I’ll go to the bazaars or the embroidery shops, as I like niche local brands. And I also like everything on The Modist.”
DESIGNERS YOU LOVE
“Schiaparelli, for their use of art and heritage, and the way they create such timeless pieces; Pierpaolo Piccioli, for his use of colour and how he transformed the brand and created something for everyone. For shoes, Manolo always makes you feel feminine, elegant, special; and for fun evenings, I like Alevi Milano, created by a friend of mine, as they’re super comfortable and sexy.”
“Well, I have a collaboration with Mary Katrantzou next. I’m a great admirer of her work, her use of colour, her energy. We’re launching two designs, that will hopefully be out later this summer.”
Cherine Magrabi’s debut 13 BC collection is available at Level Shoes
- Words: Emily Baxter-Priest