Who said bags and clutches can't be works of art?
What do Henri Matisse, Francoise Hardy, and Native Americans have in common? Well, at first glance, not much; but, in the fashion world, their combined influences can be the source of inspiration for designer brands like Shashi - a store that's been open in France since 1992 with ultra-modern designs of bags and clothes inspired by boho-chic and bohemian styles. Nootka, an Egyptian online store launched by Takwa Nasser and Nancy El Qassab in 2015, sells ethnic boho handmade bags from the same provenance as Shashi and another brand called Antik Batik.
Inspired by the colourful world of Indian materials and embroidery, as El Qassab lives in India, the two young women decided to import these designs to Egypt from Paris, where Antik Batik and Shashi operate their stores. In May, Nasser and El Qassab decided to launch their Spring/Summer 2016 collection titled Tinted Beams; a quick look at the collection reveals a lovely set of mustard-coloured bucket bags, clutches adorned in fuchsia and blue fringes, as well as a whole variety of beaded bags. Purchases can be made online by sending the girls a quick private message. Prices start from 900 LE, particularly for wallets, and go up 3,000 LE for bags that are meticulously adorned. Nasser explains that a lot of fine materials go into making these bags: leather, faux fur, beads, embroidered tissue, suede, and usually some fringes and mirrors.
"'First of all, every piece is different because it’s handmade, even down to how the beads are placed. Secondly, if you just put on a T-shirt and jeans and you carry one of the bags, you’re set. It looks very flashy and, whenever I go out, people always ask me where I got them,’’ explains 34-year-old Nasser who is passionate about the handmade bags.
Nootka also sells bracelets, which go for 300– 350 L,E and belts can be found for 550- 650 LE. In the future, these busy business owners are planning to expand to a website that would cater to the entire Middle East for orders. Currently, the store mainly serves Egypt with occasional envoys to other countries via Aramex. Their plans also include to incorporating more accessories and clothes to complement their lovely collection of eclectic bags.
All images courtesy of Nootka.