LONDON, United Kingdom — There is nothing like a melting pot of cultures, languages, beliefs, costumes, flavours and colours that can be encompassed and celebrated through the work of those who are lucky enough to have been exposed to diversity, heritage and various forms of beauty. Jalan Sahbá, a trained interior designer, art connoisseur and fashion enthusiast, does not only celebrate diversity and cultural variety through her brand of luxury leather handbags, but she also represents a new wave of well-rounded emerging designers whose work make the world a richer and smaller place to live in. As an Italian born artiste with American/Iranian heritage and life experience in India, Kenya and Mozambique, Sahbá’s handbag collections are a blend of contemporary style and ethnic inspired aesthetics.
“Merging differing ethnic influences has always fuelled and inspired my work,” says Sahbá, a global designer who believes that the richer the cultural reference that one obtains, the more meaningful the aesthetic contribution will be in your work. As she explains: “I have gleaned insight and inspiration from diverse visual cultures and this has both fortified my identity as a designer and solidified my aesthetics language.”
Being exposed to different cultures and traditions, Sahbá has found great synergies and affinity in the many cultural influences that her work features. In her own words: “I credit my affinity for art, culture and design to my baha’i belief, rich multicultural lineage, exposure to diverse visual cultures and innate aesthetic sensibility. These influences are entrenched at the heart of my work.”
Exploring bold options
Sahbá’s elegant pochettes and bags are beautifully presented in three admirable collections: Limited, Classic and the newly launched L’ODISSEA, each featuring one of a kind design. To give you an example, in the Limited collection you can find OPHELIA, a bag featuring an iconic silhouette and a signature line of Sahbá, which exhibits the beauty of artisanal craft marrying black hand-cut Italian calf leather with a 14k Gold plated hardware engraved clasp incrusted with horn-shaped grey Agata jewels.
“The use of semi-stones in our collections is both a nod to India’s rich artisanal legacy and to my own personal experience,” explains Sahbá of her distinguished use of semi-precious stones.
The new L’ODISSEA collection presents a greater array of colours and materials providing a vibrant tone with a classic yet edgy style, highlighting the diverse and rich visual cultures that Sahbá is very proud of. This collection is full of favourites ranging from mini pochettes in creamy calf leather, meticulously crafted to the smallest details, including hand-carved semi-precious stones and tinged metals, to ultra sophisticated cuts, featuring exotic blues combined with jewelled clasps and gold finish chains.
Sahbá adds: “L’ODISSEA collection has an array of sultry semi-precious stones such as Grey Agate, Amethyst, Citrine, Smokey Topaz and Amazonite.”
The distinctive collection embodies the astute allegiance between the conviction of Italian craftsmanship and the intriguing aesthetics of inspired global design. Sahbá is prompt to highlight the remarkable work of her team that brings to life each of her creations: “I feel that what ultimately brings cohesion to these many elements is the artisan who hand-constructs each single bag. Our team of artisans in Italy ably imbue each piece with the authority and care of their craft.”
Every Jalan Sahbá piece is handcrafted in Italy using the finest quality materials sourced from across the globe while the stones are expertly hand-carved by one of India’s last remaining royal jewellers, adding a royal touch to the already one of a kind designs. Most importantly, and as Sahbá reminds us all:
What fosters uniqueness in a product is the absence of a seasonal reference, it transcends culture, it disregards finite fads and trends and has a commanding aesthetic.
Challenges & opportunities
The seamless and successful combinations of the variety of materials that Sahbá brings together in her designs can also create some technical and logistical challenges. “But each element hinges on the other to ensure a bold and significant composition of contrast, as well as a distinct and unique product,” emphasises Sahbá.
As a committed emerging luxury designer, Sahbá is thrilled with the overwhelming international attention and the great interest that fashionistas, connoisseurs and the press such as Vogue (China), Elle and Harper’s Bazaar, among others, have expressed around the world, but she is also aware of the hurdles of this sector, which require continuous care, undeterred focus and refined vision, three characteristics that define the DNA of the brand and its creator.
This is also a good moment for emerging luxury as the markets are changing and modern retail is moving forward. “While institutional brands may continue to dominate, we are inevitably moving towards a more diversified market, one that favours a distinctive product, with a unique aesthetic, a bold vision and an authentic voice,” explains the designer.
Sahbá is already capturing the imagination of the millennials and all those women considering the ultimate investment piece: fine jewellery, a pair of exquisite shoes or a luxurious accessory, such as a Sahbá clutch. “I trust I am building a brand that exudes a passion for fine artistry, an appreciation for curated materials and a design inspired by our collective visual heritage,” says Sahbá.
Jalan Sahbá is well positioned in the market as a fresh, bold alternative brand not to mention that the gold trend is much more of a long trend, a metal that I believe Sahbá might have strategically chosen for a long lasting and timeless collection: “The next five years are going to be crucial and possibly golden. We have a lot planned ahead and trust we will be able to build a unique vantage point for ourselves,” concludes this forward looking global designer.