The soled affair

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For half American, half Saudi Arabian Miriam Al Dainy, it was always about shoes. She speaks to Sharon Carvalho about her brand Nour Jensen and the story behind it

How did the journey begin?
I studied Fashion Merchandising in the United States and worked for a lot of fashion houses. I even interned for Stella McCartney in London. For a while I even had my own fashion PR company in Saudi Arabia. But it was when I moved back to the States about two and a half years ago that I decided to start Nour Jensen.

What is the story behind the name?
It’s named after my mum. I wanted to incorporate the part of me that is Scandinavian American in my design and brand so; I chose the nickname my father had for my mother ‘Nour’ and her maiden surname ‘Jensen’. Since then, I’ve had an amazing response to the name. People get in touch with me on social media to tell me how they are a Jensen married to an Arab too.

Describe the relationship you share with your mother?
Both my parents are very important to my but I’m very close to my mother. She is my biggest hero and my
biggest fan all in one.

Why shoes?
I’ve been obsessed with shoes my entire life. It has always been my thing. As a little girl, I would be sitting around in my mother’s heels watching cartoons. I think it was meant to be.

How has your culture influenced and defined you?
I think being multi cultured has given me a unique voice with being able to produce things that are completely different. I see things in a different perspective because I have an international view. It makes me a melting pot where if I am attracted to something, I can bring all of my influences together.

And how has this translated to your shoes?
For example, Scandinavian art has a minimal quality to it where as Middle Eastern art is geometric and repetitive so, for my designs I mix the two. I will take an Arabic shape, minimalize it and expand it so you see the Scandinavian touch.

Define the Nour Jensen woman?
She is fashion savvy, international and loves to go out. And this translates to the shoe because I design from flats to heels so every kind of woman looks good at all times.

From where do you draw inspiration?
Apart from my culture, I get it from everywhere. For instance, this collection has a lot to do with geometry, Alhambra in Spain, for instance, is a palace and fortress complex that I pulled a lot from. I grew up in a house in the States that was a replica of it, so, a lot of Arab shapes but with a modern twist.

Define the Middle Eastern woman?
She is on top of trends, very glamorous, chic and loves her culture. I love their fashion sense and the fact that anything goes. Oh and they love their bling!

What is the international response to your background and heritage?
People seem to like what I’m doing and since the shoes translate to the Western woman, it has been positive.

What is your future plan for Nour Jensen?
Well, we are launching in Level Shoe District in May, which we are excited about. I’m also working on the Fall/Winter collection and looking forward to expanding worldwide.


Can’t leave home without?
Nour Jensen shoes

Fashion pet peeve?
Women who can’t walk in heels

Beauty pet peeve?
Too much makeup

Celebrity you’d like to see wear your shoe?
Jessica Alba or any Kardashian

A woman’s must have outfit?
A good black dress, it’s mine too, you cant go wrong.

Favourite me time activity?

What are you reading right now?
In my Shoes: A Memoir by Tamara Mellon. I just finished reading it and can’t wait to start it all over again.