WORDS BY NATALIE YIASSOUMI
The Dubai-based designer has just won the accessories designer of the year award, by Fashion Trust Arabia, and is starting to gain recognition on a global scale.
PHOTOS: INSTAGRAM @ANDREAWAZEN
Andrea Wazen has been working on her craft for years: She took fashion and shoe design courses at renown schools like Central Saint Martins and Istituto Marangoni, worked under footwear maestros like Christian Louboutin and Rupert Sanderson, and when launching her own namesake shoe label in 2013, she forged partnerships with artisans in her home of Beirut and put handmade quality at the core of her brand from the get go.
“Most of the buyers were telling me I had to produce in Italy to have my shoes in the right places. But I always believed in Lebanese production, I knew there is potential. The brand has given these factories that were on the brink of closing down another chance. There are over 40 families which benefit today from my production being based here,” said the designer, who also went on to open her own store in Beirut.
Since her 2013 launch, Wazen has been building up a loyal following across the Middle East for her playful, upbeat aesthetic: Think crystal-embellished PVC, hot pink mules or ruffled tulle pumps.
Her ultimate aim? “To project happiness and positivity” with electric colours, easy-going silhouettes and light fabrics.
It’s a simple, upbeat message that is now drawing more and more women across the globe to Andrea Wazen shoes, helping the brand build international momentum.
In fact, it looks like against all odds, this might be the year Wazen’s star will be rising even higher in the footwear world.
She has just been named Accessories Designer of the Year at the Fashion Trust Arabia awards, an annual competition designed to support up-and-coming talent and judged by industry stalwarts including the likes of Olivier Rousteing, Diane von Furstenberg, Christian Louboutin and Yoon Ambush.
As part of the prize, Wazen will receive financial support of up to $200,000, mentorship and the opportunity to stock her spring 2021 collection on Matchesfashion.com.
She has also been receiving increasing attention from some of the Internet’s favourite personalities, from Hailey Bieber, who seems to have the brand’s square-toe mules in every color and pairs them with her baggy jeans; to Sienna Miller who favours the label’s Nineties-inspired strappy sandals; or Emilia Clarke who wore a smart pinstripe suit with Wazen’s mesh stiletto pumps on the Jimmy Fallon show.
As the brand gains traction, its Instagram feed is probably the best way to get yourself better acquainted with the designer – and ensure you’re an early adopter. Expect heart-warming videos charting the designer’s journey and love of sketching, lots of feel-good candy colours and styling tips from the label’s stylish fans, ranging from Nicki Minaj to the designer’s sister and influencer Karen Wazen.
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