Some shoes are made for walking, others are made for watching, and then there are those hidden gems that perfect for are both. Farah Sultan, the mother and creator of Arnaa Milano – the gorgeous new brand modestly peeping out of the local style scene— obviously crafted her innovative brand to cater to the woman who has style, comfort and creativity on her mind. Like the name of the brand, whose Inuit origin translates to strength, wealth and beauty, Arnaa Milano exudes similar qualities and a little extra je ne sais quoi.
When Farah started working on Arnaa two short years ago, she knew the best way to achieve her shoe-designing goal was by taking baby steps. “I felt like Kuwait’s market lacked in original product design,” dishes the AUS Design graduate as she delicately sips her coffee. “I also missed making things – the creative process, working with my hands, and being involved with something I can create.”
And create she did. With her background in Design Management from the American University of Sharjah complementing her lifelong passion for shoes, design and fashion, Farah set off to Milan to learn about the art of shoemaking in an intensive course housed by ARSUTORIA, one of the most prominent shoe and purse making schools in the world. This experience gave her the know-how and access to some of the best factories that produce luxury high-end brands such as Manolo Blahnik and Christian Louboutin, and prompted her to launch her young brand in Kuwait.
After designing and releasing her first collection in 2015, Arnaa sailed smoothly into the Spring/Summer 2016 (SS16) collection that presents a line of classic cut, floral-inspired beauties. Such favorites in this botanical line, inspired by Helen Dryden’s illustrations for Vogue in the turn of the 20th century, include the elegant Taranto sandal: an open toe pump featuring a fashion-forward cross-strap lace up with leaf accents to accentuate the orchard detail at the shoe’s upper segment. Staying true to the theme of Farah’s collection, the Taranto shoe pays homage to its botanical garden namesake – Giradini Botanici Villa Taranto in the western shore of Pallanza, Italy. “Taranto was one of the more memorable shoes I made because the orchid in particular was a huge creative process that involved making a lot of flowers” which makes it all the more special.
Farah’s other favorite design includes the Carlotta shoe, which has a special story behind it as well: “Sketching the cherry blossoms onto the Carlotta was both challenging and rewarding – you really have to know how to sketch a cherry blossom and how to implement it onto a shoe,” which is correct, since it’s a bold design that wouldn’t necessarily work on every shoe or accessory. With the Carlotta’s classic flat loafer shape and small heel, the look appears delicate and whimsical – elegant and traditional, with flair and originality, and Farah’s face has the unmistakable look of pride as she shows them off – pointing out their smooth nappa leather finish and flawless detailing etched throughout.
Like Taranto and many of the other pieces in Arnaa’s SS16 collection, Carlotta is named after another Italian botanical garden – Villa Carlotta in Northern Italy’s Lake Como area. The theme of this collection appropriately embraces Arnaa’s ultimate brand inspiration: the beauty of nature meshed with the hectic modernity of an everyday urban lifestyle.
What gives Farah these ideas and how does she prep her inspiration for collections? “Research! I do plenty of research” and with shoe names from the simple yet vibrant Protea, named after a flowering plant and the eastern inspired Jaya, this research is obviously well constructed.
Arnaa’s next collection is in the works as well, and it’s definitely something to look forward to, filled with more fun research by the designer. The upcoming Alice in Wonderland inspired line follows Arnaa’s nature-meets-urban ethos, and promises fascinating and fun styles for the fashionable woman who dares dress her feet with innovativeness and originality. And like its botanical predecessor, its styles range appropriately to suit a clientele in their young twenties to mid thirties, along with tasteful choices for more mature customers.
Where can one locate the innovative styles produced by Arnaa? They make sales internationally, being stocked in the London based store, The Box (which PS: delivers internationally!), No30 Milano in Milan, Wolf & Badger in London, and very, very soon, they will be a part of Kuwait’s elusive Grain Boutique. “I love Grain Boutique because they carry so many different brands and focus on what is aesthetically pleasing and special – not just the big names.”
What’s truly admirable about this brand, in addition to its impeccable detailing and pristine quality, is the woman behind the shoes. Farah balances being a new mother, a wife and a creative director all at once. Outside of her obligations with her amazing little family, she gives her all to Arnaa with her role as Creative Director. “I’m extremely involved in the entire process and when I’m not spending time with my husband and my kid, I’m working on the collection.” She also has dreams of turning Arnaa into a fashion house – something she feels is not accessible in Kuwait just yet. “We don’t really have that here! People tend to go for the big brands that celebrities are wearing – there needs to be more local products to focus on, and I’d love for young designers to train and jump on board to make shoes with me and maybe even purses – baby steps, though. One day in the future.”
Though still new to the scene, Arnaa definitely has been making its mark in Kuwait with its first collection. The SS16 collection was stocked in Kuwait’s Harvey Nichols department store in the Grand Avenue, but with good reason, sold out! So we definitely won’t be surprised if we spot fashionable feet clad in floral accents click-clacking the tiles of Salhiya or Prestige. “Arnaa is getting popular, but it does take time. My designs are unique and with time, people are going to be, and already have been more receptive to them – but this is a tough industry – it’s definitely not easy!” though with a strong ethos of creativity and a belief system of slow and steady winning the race, they will surely make a splash with Kuwait’s style savvy community.
For more information on Arnaa Milano, visit their website at www.arnaa.com for updated lists on where you can find their styles.