Roula Ghalayini dived into the world of design when she enrolled into the graphic design program at the American University of Beirut. On one of my very first days into the program, her dean told the students that “design is not a profession, it’s a way of life,” and she instantly adopted that as her own modus operandi.
After completing her degree, she worked in advertising at Leo Burnett Beirut creating and developing regional and international brands, several of which were fashion related. For six years her role as an art director spanned from creating identities, to wholistic campaigns in print, TV, radio and ambient mediums, some of which won awards in international festivals.
Following her brand building experience, coupled with her intrigue with form and function and their respective relationships, she set off to create her own brand. “Poupee Couture began as an expression of the modern Arab woman. More specifically in that the facade she wears is often not an accurate depiction of her true personality,but rather a perfectly calculated depiction of how society wants to portray her.” This creative concept aterialized into bags that had strong geometric forms and a layering of materials with vibrant colors beneath – a symbol of their true personality.
In just a few years, the brand was picked up by international publications and was featured on American TV hit series The Carrie Diaries. Regional retailers were equally supportive stocking the brands in the likes of Doha’s Modern Art Museum Boutique, Cairo’s Beymen department store, Dubai’s Sauce boutique and Abu Dabi’s House of Fraser. The brand has also expanded it’s online sales to 30 countries and five continents. As it’s most recent milestone, Poupee Couture successfully completed it’s first round of crowd funding making it the first Middle Eastern brand to do so.
Dubai’s Fashion Forward is an initiative co-founded by her husband Ramzi Nakad and is a mission close to her heart. “ I have been helping Ramzi alongside an incredible team to ensure that Fashion Forward takes off with great success and even greater promise,” she adds. She took on an initial role as Designer Relations Manager to scout the greater Middle East for fashion and accessory designers and to screen for fashion talent of Arab origin that were residing in the West. She also took on the role of communications manager, creating and developing the brand into print, online and outdoor mediums under the supervsion of Fashion Forward’s Chief Marketing Officer.
“We wanted to ensure that the brand accurately represented the identity of Middle Eastern fashion design – omething which in itself was still in the process of being defined. As a team, we deliberated a lot on the elements that united our exuberant couture designers with our minimal pret a porter labels. We wanted to create a brand identity that was instantly recognizable, own able, yet was inclusive to all the region’s designer aesthetics”.
“The most challening material I work with is infact one that has grown to become Poupee Couture’s trademark design and is that of metal. Different types of metal in different finishing is a material that I love experimenting with to create unexpected forms and functions. I think the best and most recent example of that has to be the cuffbox – a leather lined wooden clutch with perfect gold plated brass rings protruding from it, creating the a comfortable grip and an eye catching jewellery piece,” she states.