x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

'I look at details that I never would have noticed before'

Rana al Naqeeb, the designer of the Kuwaiti fashion line Reina, talks about her life in fashion.

The designer Rana al Naqeeb liked to dress up as a ballerina when she was young.
The designer Rana al Naqeeb liked to dress up as a ballerina when she was young.


Rana al Naqeeb, the designer of the Kuwaiti fashion line Reina, talks about her life in fashion. I was born in London but grew up in Kuwait, which is the family home. I have two sisters and a brother, and my mother was a very strong influence on us when we were growing up - we were forced to dress alike. My sister and I wore the same thing, and my brother the boy's version. I am the eldest and it went on until I was eight or nine. We had to dress in themes as well. For example, we were in Venice and suddenly we had to be in striped white sailor outfits.

At about the age of nine, I did not want to look like my sister any more. I refused to wear the outfits, and my mother realised that it was time. I had been a very girlie girl, so when I rebelled it was all jeans. I wasn't a tomboy, but in middle school I was very much about street wear, very sporty. I wanted to fight the boys. I had that kind of personality. When I was little, I loved to dress up in my ballerina outfit. I found photographs of me sitting on the floor, posing, taking pictures of myself and thinking I was a ballerina. I actually wore that to school once. I was probably around six or seven. We had a free dress day at school, which meant we could wear whatever we wanted - but probably not a ballerina outfit.

I love shoes. I like unique brands, but I love Louboutins too. In the mornings I wear flats, but in the evening it's high heels. Jeans with heels, especially in Dubai, works best. And I love classic bags. I have a really nice YSL clutch; it's a unique piece and I love it. I think the Louis Vuitton Neverfull bag is amazing for travel. I had my laptop for meetings in India; I threw samples in there and thought: "It's never going to all fit," but it did.

I travel a lot for work. I remember once I was in the airport with my suitcase, but had to buy another one because, as usual, I had over-packed. It just looked so messy. While I think matching luggage is very neat, I still haven't quite reached that stage yet. My favourite place to go shopping is Miami, and I think I am a Miami girl. Los Angeles is very laid-back, whereas Miami is more funked-up street wear, and that's very much my style. I had an amazing discovery in Istanbul. I went there for my cousin's wedding, and my mum texted me and told me to get down to their brand of Harvey Nichols, and it was amazing. We ended up going there the next day, and the next. The taste was amazing. I didn't expect it. I think of Paris or Miami for shopping.

When I was younger, I used to impulse buy, but now I calculate if I need to have it. I will still want it, but I will work out if I need it. When I was younger I used to just buy it on the spot. Now I think: "Will this match? What will it go with?" With maturity and experience I have learnt, but when I was younger there was no sense. If I wanted it, I just bought it. Now I think about it more. I have calmed down. I look at details that I never would have noticed before. The stitching, the finishing... It's important.

In Kuwait, in my senior year in high school, when I was 17, I requested from my headmaster if I could do a fashion show. There was this once-a-week thing where he normally gave a speech, and I asked could he let me have that time, just once. I got permission and I invited my parents as a surprise. My dad was living in Dubai at the time, so I had to tell him, but I didn't tell my mum. I had to beg the headmaster to tell her that I was in trouble, that it was urgent, that they were going to kick me out of school. My mum was calling and calling me, and I had to pretend I didn't know. I begged other students to model for me and I had music, a background, the whole thing. My mum thought she was coming to meet teachers, so she arrived and there was this big fashion show. Her face! She was very proud. I wish I could find the videotape of that show.

* Sarah Maisey ? Reina is available at S*uce (www.shopatsauce.com).