INTERVIEW WITH YOUNG DESIGNER CÉLINE HADDAD
Why Fashion Design?
Fashion Design is the perfect mix of creativity and technical skills and I felt like it suited me the most since I have a very concrete and scientific side to myself and yet enjoy the exploration of intangible thoughts, concepts and ideas. I learned to use my designs to convey messages that are deep and go beyond the pure aesthetic of the products: since clothes and accessories are seen everywhere, everyday and are one of the major communication means, might as well use them for good causes and raise awareness on various topics through them.
How did you get into the Fashion Industry?
I felt that my Business Administration studies at the American University of Beirut were not challenging enough, so I decided to check out additional online classes and certificates. Within a few months, I had completed a certificate of Luxury Management of Fashion Companies with Bocconi University in Milan in parallel to my Bachelor's degree. This revealed a deep interest in the fashion industry which I was not aware of. I remember it feeling like both a self-revelation and something quite normal since I grew up surrounded by art, music, literature and my parents always dressed well. That’s when I decided to pursue my career in Fashion.
You are originally from Beirut. Why New York?
I had been to New York twice before moving there and, both times, I sensed like the city had a vibrant energy that I could not find anywhere else in the world. For some reason, and this had never happened before, I felt like the city was calling my name and had something great to offer to me, as if it would change my life for the better. When I went back to Beirut, after my second trip to New York, I decided to kill two birds with one stone and apply to Parsons School of Design in New York, which ranks Top 1 (or 2, depending on the year) in Fashion Design programs worldwide. A few months later, I got accepted and moved there without thinking twice.
I have no regrets at all. Moving to New York is amongst the best things that ever happened to me.
The biggest accomplishment of your career so far?
Launching my own label and showing my debut collection at the Vancouver Fashion Week - I was just 24 years old at that time!
Great success at a young age...
I worked really hard my entire adult life in order to accomplish these two things at a relatively young age and it feels rewarding to have done so. I allocated most of my time to achieving my goal fast and efficiently - while many of my friends were enjoying their time off. Being in New York so far away from my family and my home countries, gave me the opportunity to be guiltlessly selfish: I put all my focus on my career.
How has the city inspired you?
New York has a very diversified society and I’ve been exposed to people of all kinds there : I’ve seen scenes of great misery, been to luxurious hotels and restaurants, overheard conversations of people of all ages, seen how they can lead very different lives in the same city and couldn’t help but think and overthink about the controversies that arise from such diversification. It triggered an interest in the exploration of these various aspects of society and generations in my creative process and even lead me to explore myself more.
And the typical New York "anything is possible“-mentality?
NYC is a very artistic and liberated city when it comes to Fashion: One can wear anything at anytime and not be judged by anyone. This allowed me to create with no boundaries and let my imagination flow freely. Contradictorily, the city has also taught me to set limits to my designs.
In what way?
In busy cities, one doesn’t have the time and luxury to worry about the fit of clothes. People are constantly on the go. They need apparel that can be worn all day long. Garments and accessories have to be comfortable and practical – New York made me realize that.
What are you currently working on?
Establishing my brand in Paris and Beirut and producing the collection presented in Vancouver. I am also developing my new collection at the moment.
Your wish for the future:
I hope that my brand will reach world renown someday. I would love to be featured in major magazines, to spot my designs on celebrities, to participate and ideally win Design competitions, to show my collections at major fashion weeks – I have so many dreams. But most of all finding a humanitarian purpose for existing and supporting a cause with my label. I would love to reach a point where I can give back to society by doing what I love. I currently started working on this particular dream...
And you will move to Paris...
Because my label is mainly established there. I am also half French and living at home makes it much easier than living in a city as a foreigner. New York fueled my will to succeed, now it is time to write a new chapter.
What won't you miss about New York?
The busy streets and freezing winters. Squeezing myself between tourists that are taking selfies under the heavy snow, while wearing a giant jacket, carrying weighty bags of fabrics and having clothes hangers block the blood flow to my fingers in order go from one meeting to another, all of that while making sure not to slip on ice – every day felt like a boot camp!
What did you learn in New York?
Work hard- there’s always someone working harder than you, so you have no excuse. No dreams are too big if you work hard enough and follow your plan thoroughly. Believe in coincidence and being in the right place at the right time. Jump on every opportunity that presents itself to you. Be independent, outgoing and careful. Learn from your failures, they make you stronger. Bounce back up. Be daring and take calculated risks.
Is there anything you can't learn in New York?
I still did not learn how to cook. Paris will teach me this - hopefully... Céline Haddad is a luxury women's apparel brand that questions norms and traditions and offers daring, dynamic and distinctive garments and accessories for the urban woman. The aim is to emphasize each woman's own personality by focusing on edginess, confidence and comfort.