Along with a charismatic white shirt, she walks into the room nonchalantly. Her collar is straight and her heart is accessorised with a dramatic bow. While the world has caught the digital fever and replaced conversations with chat boxes, her relentless fingers have never ceased to tap at the sight of rich fabrics.
Others might favour a swaying tail or cascade of ruffles, but not her. She, on the other hand, believes in the power of the top; be it a shirt or a blouse, according to this fashion aficionado, all dream wardrobes start with the right statement basic.
Natalie Akrabova started her journey back when fashion was a novelty. The ready-to-wear designer first waltzed with the local industry in the 1980s; nonetheless, after a long break, Akrabova is once again back to the scene.
Over the course of three decades, the industry has shifted to utilise innovative techniques and survive new challenges. Accordingly, the fashion veteran had to come back with a seasoned brand, which addresses the market’s most prominent gap.
Daily News Egypt sat with the designer to talk second chances, the factor of experience, and the power of the top.
When did you realise that fashion is the career you want to pursue?
I started my fashion career in the 1980s, when I opened a high-end boutique and atelier for women, where I produced my own exclusive designs. After a long hiatus, for family-related reasons, I came back to the fashion scene with N By Natalie; a ready-to-wear brand that specialises in women’s shirts, blouses, and tops.
Meanwhile, I also work as a personal stylist.
What encouraged you to start a brand now?
I finally had time to go back to something I love doing. On the other hand, despite all the brands currently available in Egypt, sometimes it is difficult to find the right statement top or white shirt with a twist.
Today, mass production has invaded the local market and it is difficult to find something unique or different. Accordingly, I decided to address that market gap. Being different, being exclusive, and standing out is the idea behind N By Natalie.
What was your biggest obstacle when establishing your brand?
Finding the right fabrics as well as the sad fact that high-quality finishing is still an alien concept to local craftsmen. For me, creating the design is just 20% of the process.
The remaining 80% includes the right choice of fabrics as well as high level of execution and finishing. What is a beautiful design without the right cut and perfect finishing?
How would you define your aesthetic?
Simple, elegant, reflecting the current trends, and suitable for all ages.
How did your experience and background reflect on your brand?
Through the years I have learned one thing when it comes to fashion: simplicity is key to elegance and style; meanwhile, knowledge is the main driving force behind my brand.
Why did you choose to specialise in trendy ready-to-wear?
I chose to specialise in shirts, tops, and blouses because I am a “shirt” person myself. Furthermore, I am a firm believer that they are a very important part of each woman’s wardrobe; with just the right four or five tops, you can create endless combinations that will make you look on point.
The local fashion industry is young in experience and age; how does your background separate you from other designers?
Re-entering the fashion industry at my age gives me some advantages. On one hand, I am not too old to detach myself from the current fashion trends and incorporate them in my designs; meanwhile, I am also not too young (as most of the upcoming designers today are) to limit myself to a certain age group.
Being able to see and understand the diverse needs and preferences of all age groups and accordingly designing my models is what separates me from other designers. I am happy to say that from the day I started N By Natalie, my designs have been equally liked and sought after by clients of all ages.
The beauty of it is that the same design can be worn by a girl in her 20s or a lady in her 50s and yet, it will look equally elegant and suitable on both.
Where would you like to see your brand in the future?
N By Natalie is a young brand so it needs to be firmly established in the Egyptian market first. When this is accomplished, there will be a lot of other possibilities to explore.