The former Miss Yugoslavia has made a name for herself as one of the UAE’s top fashion designers.
Who: Jelena Jakovljevic Bin Drai
Profession: Mother, entrepreneur and fashion designer of eponymous label, Jelena Bin Drai
We’ve had the privilege of peeking through the keyholes of many an aspirational soul, so it’s testament to the fabulous Jelena Bin Drai that this was one of our most exciting house-stalks yet. One of the UAE’s best-loved designers, it was only natural that her home and wardrobe lived up to expectations.
Giving us a grand tour of her Palm-set villa clad in a red dress from her A/W16 collection, Serbian-born Jelena happily chatted us through her prized pieces.
We swooned over a glossy pair of ruby Alaïa boots, circa 2009, and a decade-old Dior bag – both effortlessly proving that true style never really fades. And in a world jam-packed with DHL T-shirt-wearing hipsters, that kind of timeless elegance couldn’t feel any more refreshing.
“Conservative, classic and sophisticated – a real mix of East and West in one. For me, it’s all about elegance and comfort. Being a working mother of three, I’m always busy so I wear anything that’s easy to put on but still looks professional and polished.”
MY STYLE SECRET:
“My style secret is my mother. She is a very strong, independent, feminine woman and she inspires me every single day. Whatever she wears, she always looks sophisticated.”
“I do love to shop out of the country or online; I buy most of my purchases abroad from concept stores. I recently visited London and I always find something there to add to my wardrobe.”
“I love everything about Kate Middleton and Her Highness Sheikha Mozah’s personal style – they really inspire me! I admire them both for their chic, ultra-classic style.”
“I own a few bags and pairs of shoes I’ve had for over 10 years. They’re basically vintage! These include a Lady Dior bag and a pair of really beautiful black Gucci shoes. What I really admire most, though, is my jewellery collection. I’ve been collecting luxurious pieces for a while now, and I plan to give them to my daughter when she grows up.”
“I love to shop when I’m on my travels. In England I always find lots of new brands and labels, especially on UK websites. I also love many of the young, talented designers from Japan.”
UNIFORM OF CHOICE:
“I always want to feel comfortable during the day and glamorous at night, so I wear what I feel I’m most relaxed in and what makes me look smart and chic. That’s when I feel the most confident.”
“I couldn’t cope with a messy wardrobe; mine has to be neat and organised. I like to coordinate my clothes in order of colour, piece and occasion. I have a section for formal nightwear and another for casual day clothes. As for my shoes, they have their own wardrobe!”
EVERY WOMAN SHOULD OWN:
“One high-quality watch. It’s not only a fashion statement but a real investment, too. I also think it’s essential to invest in a good black bag. It will last you a lifetime.”
MY DAY-TO-DAY WARDROBE:
“Being a businesswoman and a mum, I have to find the right kind of attire that is suitable for both roles. As long as it allows me to juggle all of my jobs alongside each other, and is comfortable but still on-trend, I would wear it.”
THE BEST FASHION ADVICE I’VE EVER RECEIVED:
“Marc Jacobs once said in an interview that the clothes you wear are a form of self-expression; that they represent who you are and what you stand for.
“How we dress is how we want others to perceive us. I really believe it. I think that my collections and the clothes that I wear perfectly represent this; reflecting who I am and what I have become.”