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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 15 December 2018

Trio of Dubai-based designers launch bag collection that ticks all the right boxes

Halm’s debut collection, 1:1, features just five silhouettes: the Tote, for travel and work; the more casual Boxer bag, for daytime use; the slouchy shaped Chilluxe; Tutti, a neat wallet clutch; and the Allt, an envelope clutch that cleverly fits into the other bags

Halm’s Chilluxe bag. Courtesy Halm
Halm’s Chilluxe bag. Courtesy Halm

Amid the froth and feathers of last month’s Paris Fashion Week, a new company quietly launched a range of sleek, chic, pared-down bags. Crafted from leather in timeless tones such as linen, powder, periwinkle blue and moss green, the bags were notable in themselves. But what made the launch even more interesting, was the fact that the brand behind the bags, Halm, is based in Dubai.

Halm’s debut collection, 1:1, features just five silhouettes: the Tote, for travel and work; the more casual Boxer bag, for daytime use; the slouchy shaped Chilluxe; Tutti, a neat wallet clutch; and the Allt, an envelope clutch that cleverly fits into the other bags.

They are the brainchild of a trio of Dubai-based designers, Swedes Hanna Ransjö and Astrid Dando, and Brit Hannah Brewer. Drawing on a very Swedish aesthetic of considered minimalism, the bags are blissfully simple. Each is crafted to maximise the natural textures of the leathers and suedes, resulting in pieces that are chic yet tactile. Designed to be neat but practical, each features a tidy silhouette, hand-stitched seams and the company’s trademark woven strap.

Ransjö, who has called Dubai home for over 25 years, explains why the trio set up in the UAE. “Dubai is tolerant, open-minded and accepting of various styles,” she says. “One of the beautiful aspects of living here is you mingle with a variety of people. It’s colourful, vibrant and culturally rich, so it’s definitely an exciting place to be creative.

“We felt that there was a gap in the market for design and quality that transcends just the one season, without being bland and boring. There are already so many fashion accessories that seem tied to temporary trends. I was also looking for a bag that was structured yet soft and malleable, a combination that is hard to find.

“So we designed the Halm collection for the multitasking and contemporary woman who appreciates the simple beauty of well-designed bags, made in luxurious materials and textures, exuding effortless, timeless style with a little je ne sais quoi,” she says.

Steering clear of the safe ubiquitous colour choice of black, these pieces may seem like they are aimed at the fashion savvy – those who know how to make pistachio green and midnight blue work for them. However, the “macaron-like palette” also includes a summery blue and soft, buttery creams. And all of these tones are surprisingly easy to wear.

“It would have been very easy to be blinded by current trends and fashion, but we had to keep reminding ourselves to stay true to our core and vision,” says Ransjö. “This collection is all about an appreciation of the beauty of the natural, valuing the skill of artisans and letting the sumptuous materials speak for themselves. Our focus is on top quality, whole leathers and materials, including bull nubuck, which has a natural, smooth, velvety touch. With use, the leather evolves, taking on different shades over time – this is a charming characteristic of natural hide, and offers a bag that will age beautifully.”

Designed in Dubai, the bags call on the centuries-old skills of Italian craftsmen and their expertise in leatherwork. Each piece is produced in Florence in a limited edition, but retains, at its heart, a sense of the UAE. “We had many conversations about launching elsewhere, but absolutely felt that the UAE was the right place. Having lived in Dubai for so many years, my love and loyalty to what feels like my adopted home country, made it only natural to develop the brand here, rather than in Italy, Paris, London or somewhere more traditionally knownfor fashion houses,” Ransjö concludes.

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