EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with Lina Hamed of Analeena

Analeena is a handbag brand that was founded in 2008 by Lina Hamed. Lina who holds a BA in Fashion Design from the University of Westminster, has a background that can put a lot of designers to shame... She worked at Hermés as the buyer for the flagship Bond Street store in London, before moving to Paris to design special projects in exotic skins for the prestigious French brand. Later on she worked as a design assistant to Jean Louis Scherrer alongside Stephane Rolland. I noticed her bags from a few episodes of Gossip Girl. However, I fell in love after I saw that over-sized green clutch with Dita Von Tesse.
Every time I post an interview, I think that I've reached my goal, I've written the perfect post. But this, this is perfection wrapped up in luxurious exotic skin...

F:Who is Lina Hamed? 
L:I'm a designer, I design and create luxury. I grew up in London and Paris, and I am originally Middle eastern. So I have the best of both worlds. I am a new mother so dividing my time working and raising a baby is a challenge, but that's what I love challenges in life.

F:When did you know that fashion was a part of your life? 
L:I always knew, ever since I was a child I was making dresses for my dolls. I often cut my mother's dresses to get fabric, which landed me in a lot of trouble.

F:You design luxurious handbags, could you elaborate and tell us more about how you started and most importantly why did you decide to dive into such a competitive business? 
L:Firstly I worked at Hermés for over 5 years. I gained an invaluable experience that I am truly grateful for. I wanted an exotic skin handbag of my own, but I always felt there was something missing. I had the knowledge, experience and determination to create my own brand. I wanted a torch in the bags, lizard handles, tri-colour, bi-colours.... It is a competitive business, But I believe strongly in my work, and the only competition I look at is myself...

F:How did you excel at presenting a luxury brand that is loved, well-received, and considered as 'Arm Candy' for the elite.... like Sarah Jessica Parker, Kate Moss, Carla Bruni, Dita Von Tesse, Elena Perminova, and the whole cast of Gossip Girl? 
L:Thank you first of all, I enjoy working with people that have their own taste, and know what they want, and above all understand luxury and quality. I suppose that is how It all happens.

F:What inspires you? 
L:Absolutely everything. Mainly my travels, nature, food, people. I look at everything around me and I see beauty, I interpret that in my designs. In the coming few months you will see new projects that I'm working on, and my inspiration, from the my surroundings, will be more apparent.

F:5 years from now, what do you want your line to be known for especially in the Middle East? 
L:Luxury,Quality, Timeless, Unique....

F:What was the first handbag you ever owned? L:I can't remember to be honest, I was always called the Bag lady by my family and friends because I had so many bags. But I do remember one particular bag that I owned and loved, it was a Prada baby pink with a perspex handle. After I bought it, I carried it all the time as if it was my only bag; I love colour and always bought distinctive colours!

F:What are your favorite cities? (list your favorite restaurants and shopping spots in each city).. 
L:I lived in Paris for 12 years, so I would have to say Paris for it's aesthetic beauty, buildings, blossoms, surrounding beauty. I mostly love the 'Galleries' in Paris, not only for the quirky stores but the beautiful architecture of the passageways. Paris has a lot to offer in the culinary sense, it's hard to pin point a favourite restaurant. Chez Allard, Gourmet des Ternes, L'ami louis etc for traditional french food.... London, is where I grew up and currently reside, It's the most cosmopolitan city in the world. There is always something 'new' to see, do and eat! Again with London having a choice bigger than the map of Europe of restaurants It's hard to choose. I like to try new things, but my 'locals' are Scallini and Zuma... Florence is a city I only discovered in 2005, and my factory is in Florence, so I am there every single month. It has 78 museums, the food and culture is rich, people are warm, and the weather is fabulous, what isn't there to love?!! My go to restaurant is 13 Gobbi..
Another city is Istanbul... Istanbul, in my eyes, is a Magical City. The breathtaking view of the bosphorous, the mosques, the people, hustle and bustle, spice markets, It's rich and enriching. I love Ulus 29 restaurant for its breathtaking views, and Cahide 15 for the fun atmosphere!

F:What do you do in your spare time? 
L:Spare time... That is a dream. I have a 3 month year old wonderful baby, a very hectic job, I'm a sister, daughter, friend, and wife; so I don't really know where spare time fits in. I don't think I'd even know what to do if I found myself with nothing to do!

F:List 3 items that are always present in your bag? 
L:Pink rosary beads from my late father, Torch, and a bag hanger.

F:Blogs are very 'in' these days, do you follow any fashion blogs? 
L:Yes, social media is very important and it's the new way forward. I don't focus on any one in particular, there is something special that catches my attention in each blog..

F:Are you thinking of opening your own boutique and why aren't you stocked in the Middle East? 
L:Of course my own boutique is definitely on the horizon, in luxury there is a huge demand but a lack of supply. It's very hard to find the best quality exotic skins, so I have to choose carefully where my brand is stocked as I can not meet the huge demand... And I will never compromise on quality.

For more information: www.analeena.com


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