Sustainability and diversity.
For a newbie designer, Darin Hachem has a wealth of multi-cultural experience that inspires her designs. Born in Lebanon and raised in in Africa’s Gabon, she was also exposed to a diverse group of backgrounds before embarking on her studies at the American University of Beirut AUB.
After 10 years in Lebanon, she went on to study at London’s iconic Central Saint Martins before further developing her skills in Milan at the Istituto Marangoni where she graduated from the One Year Intensive Fashion Design Program in Womenswear, followed by a Master Degree in 2015.
She co-founded the namesake label with Mexican born Fernanda Gallardo, who also acts as the Creative Director. They both source fabrics from around the world that are natural or recyclable to create clothes that are contemporary and extremely wearable.
How does your Middle Eastern heritage inspire your collections?
I’d say the most obvious thing is the fabric we chose. They might not be the typical embroidered ones, but they have a certain hand, a quality to them that is very important to us. This is why we prefer natural ones, silks, cottons…
The colours we pick are very close to the Middle Eastern ‘paysage’, these sandy tones, browns, greens found even in our wooden arts and furniture. They are all tones and shades of earthy colours.
The other thing is the diversity we have in the area concerning the dressing codes – what to show what to hide; it pushes us to play more with the pieces we create, but this is also part of our own identity.
Where did you both study and how do you think that has impacted your career?
Fernanda and I met during our studies at Istituto Marangoni of Milan from which we graduated, I’d say their system is very rigorous and they teach you to become very demanding and picky in the work you produce. We got to work and study with other people from different countries, Turkey, Brazil, Kazakhstan just to name a few. It adds another dimension to your ideas; it opens your brain and enhances your creativity.
However, the most interesting part is that we come from different backgrounds and hence from different experiences of life, and we learn from each other a lot. Fernanda studied fashion in Mexico, I studied biology and arts in Lebanon; but we have a lot in common even culturally. We are very close. We believe multiculturalism is a must, it allows communication and maturity on a personal and professional level.
Do you have any childhood memories that are of note?
The biggest impact is from my phase in Gabon, especially how close we were to nature there, and how we used to play with all types of insects; gardens were full of snails, green grasshoppers and frogs… and we use to play under the rain even; I think we were very lucky. We were kids of different nationalities, going down at the same hours everyday to play all together. And Sundays were made for the beach.
What do you find inspires your collections most?
It is not really what, but how things come together. I truly believe the world communicates with us on a different level and we have to just listen. At a specific phase, things begin to make sense, there is a particular theme, a particular person, a personal experience, a scientific research that comes out and we dig deeper, and it allows us to find common points between these different fields of arts, science, technology, architecture. We find our starting point and pick a certain direction. We make it ours.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in the industry? I am just starting myself, and I am trying to find the formula that works for me. It is a tough world; you have to be ready to be consistent and persistent and you need to have a strong support system. The most important thing is to always remind yourself why you started it first, and proceed step-by -step, one thing at a time. Be ready to listen, to be flexible and accept that things are not set in stone, you will keep being challenged, sometimes frustrated, but eventually things will unfold and make sense on the way.