Cousins SHAIKHA NOOR and SHAIKHA HAYA of NOON By NOOR fame, have more than just a family link between them. They’ve been best friends since childhood, travelled the world together and now sit queenly high on their fashion empire. The Bahraini duo talk to us about putting Bahrain on the map, NEW YORK FASHION WEEK and how they activate each other’s strengths…
How would you describe each other’s personalities?
SHAIKHA NOOR: As you may already know, we are not only cousins, but we have been best friends since childhood. Working together to fullfill our career goals only seemed inevitable due to how well we understand each other. Haya really enjoys travelling, looking for new places to explore and new cultures to discover. I really believe this fuels her creativity and her ability to bring in new design elements for Noon By Noor. She loves embellished pieces so she will always think of brilliant ways to incorporate them in new collections.
SHAIKHA HAYA: Noor is independent, precise and very determined. She has an eye for detail and loves to explore new techniques to make the pieces more special. One of her passions is sketching as it’s her way to relax and unwind. Noor has always been fascinated by fashion, even as a little girl. She would spend hours in her mother’s closet exploring and admiring beautiful fabrics and designs, which has undoubtedly influenced her future in design.
How do you divide the roles up in the creative process?
SHAIKHA NOOR: When it comes to the creative process of developing a collection, we both play equal parts as we work very closely together. In terms of business, my role is that of CEO and Haya is the COO. However, we make all final decisions together.
What inspires you in terms of design?
SHAIKHA NOOR: Noon By Noor embodies the concept of East meets West. We are continuously inspired by our rich Eastern cultures, which is very important to us, and we mix it with Western styles and designs, which also resemble our personal styles. A lot of our inspiration also comes from our extensive travels, which have helped us rediscover our global perspective and understanding of various cultures.
SHAIKHA HAYA: We always keep an eye and an ear open to all that surrounds us, because you can get inspired at any moment of the day, even at unexpected moments. Another key source of inspiration to us is our family and close friends as well as our personal stories.
You’ve come so far from your Bahrain beginnings. Did you ever expect it?
SHAIKHA NOOR: We started Noon By Noor with the goal of being recognised internationally, while placing Bahrain on the fashion map. Although these were our goals since the beginning, achieving them feels quite humbling. We are extremely proud to represent our country in such a competitive industry.
SHAIKHA HAYA: We always hoped to get as far as we have today, and we feel very proud and blessed to have undergone this journey. I believe our desire to succeed while loving what we do has been paramount to our success. We continue to grow with excitement at what the future has in store for our brand.
How would you describe the Noon by Noor aesthetic? It is inherently Western – quite minimal with uncomplicated separates – where would you say the Middle Eastern undertones emerge?
SHAIKHA NOOR: Our brand’s vision is to merge the East and West. is theme is constant throughout our collections. Noon By Noor’s re ned aesthetic fuses understated luxury with playful femininity, and with an emphasis on sharp tailoring, clean silhouettes and attention to detail. Embellishments and oral motifs are synonymous with Noon By Noor, which are Bahrain inspired, so we find ways to incorporate them into our collections, while continuously looking for new and innovative ways to recreate these inspirations.
Who is the Noon by Noor woman?
SHAIKHA HAYA: The Noon By Noor woman embodies the essence of nonchalant chic, is internationally minded, sophisticated and not afraid of taking risks with her wardrobe whilst staying true to her own individual style.
How did showcasing in New York come about over the other fashion capitals?
SHAIKHA NOOR: Going abroad has been in the plans since inception. As we both studied and lived in the US, we understand the power and value of the market, and for us New York is the center of the fashion industry. e choice for us came quite easily when we were presented with the opportunity to take part in New York Fashion Week
How do the critics respond to the fact that you›re Arab designers in the US amongst other cultures?
SHAIKHA NOOR: I believe that in fashion it doesn’t matter who you are or where you are from. Your brand speaks for itself and tells the story you want to share with the rest of the world. e key is to capitalise on what makes you unique and grants you the competitive edge to stand out. From the very first time that we showcased our collections at NYFW the critics were very enthusiastic about Noon By Noor.
SHAIKHA HAYA: In February 2012, when we held our first presentation of Noon By Noor during NYFW we were recognised as the first GCC brand to be invited by IMG to present at NYFW, which was monumental to us. What makes us stand out is that we reinterpret fashion and o er a different perspective on style, which is very de ned and pronounced. We are very proud to have been able to make a mark very early on in our journey.
What advice would you give to emerging designers starting their career?
SHAIKHA NOOR: Believe in your vision and yourself and don’t take no for an answer, but most importantly, always follow your true passion.
SHAIKHA HAYA: Love what you do and be prepared for a lot of hard but fun work.
Who would you like to see wearing Noon by Noor and why?
SHAIKHA HAYA: Our designs have already been seen on the likes of Alexa Chung, Solange Knowles, Jennifer Lopez, Olivia Culpo, Eva Longoria, Blake Lively, Kate Bosworth, Miroslava Duma to name a few. We look forward to adding others to the list such as Sienna Miller and Emma Watson, who represent our brand in their femininity and effortless elegance.
Being constantly on the road must be tiring. How do you center yourselves and focus your energies on work and your personal lives?
SHAIKHA NOOR: Things can get quite tiring at times, but because we love what we do, we are always able to combine our work with our personal lives. I am a very organised person, making it easier to find a perfect balance between spending precious time with my family and working on my businesses.
SHAIKHA HAYA: Our days can get quite busy at times, but I believe our desire to succeed and loving what we do keeps us motivated on a daily basis. We are both passionate about our work, which makes fine tuning our schedules a lot easier and more pleasurable.