The UAE shoe designer shares his life's passions with M.
Style File: Sultan Al Darmaki
Following the philosophy of the late French shoe designer André Perugia, Sultan Al Darmaki, 29, believes a woman's personality is revealed in her shoes. "Every pair of shoes empowers a woman with a certain personality - one day you will wear studded shoes and you will feel like a rock chick and the next you will wear a subtle design that will make you feel more glamorous," he says. "To me, your footwear is a form of self-expression." Originally inspired by his stylish mother, the Emirati designer, who comes from Al Ain, started drawing sketches at the age of 10. A graduate of the American University of Sharjah with a BA in public relations and marketing, he worked for several years in PR and communications but knew that his real passion was design. So he went on to establish his own label, Darmaki, which has its headquarters in London and has proved popular with luxury fashion lovers across the globe. Labelled the first Middle Eastern luxury footwear designer, he blends Middle Eastern aesthetics with western influences, but his heritage is a great source of inspiration. "Emirati women are exposed to the fashion industry from a young age and they are the epitome of glamour," says Al Darmaki. A visitor to last year's Abu Dhabi Film Festival, where he displayed his shoes for the celebrities in attendance, Al Darmaki is proud to have one of his designs - his Lydia shoe, based on the traditional metallic gold leather burqa - on permanent display in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. He tells Jemma Nicholls about his life and love of all things shoes.
FIVE WORDS TO DESCRIBE ME ARE... passionate, ambitious, determined, quirky, bubbly. BEING STYLISH MEANS... being able to express my sense of individuality and my personality. I FEEL HAPPIEST... in my studio surrounded by vintage art. It is my sanctuary and where I feel at my most creative. I GET MY INSPIRATION FROM... beauty in all its forms whether it is an object, a beautiful woman or a scene from a movie or photograph. Anything that provokes emotions I find inspiring. THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE I HAVE EVER BEEN GIVEN IS... prior to the launch of Darmaki, Patricia Millns, a renowned artist. told me to think big and since then this has become my life motto and is something that I pass on to everyone I meet. IF I WEREN'T A FOOTWEAR DESIGNER I WOULD BE... a fashion editor of a luxury magazine. This would be another way of indulging my love of fashion and art and immersing myself in it in a broader sense rather than focusing on accessories.
Darmaki designs can be bought in the Middle East at Bullets & Butterflies, Mercato Mall and Impression Boutique, Doha