Interview with Headpiece Expert: Belles by Raquel

Whether it’s an elegant headband, a beautiful tulle veil or a dazzling hair slide, bridal accessories can add instant oomph to your wedding day look and make any hairstyle super chic. Choosing just the right piece also makes for the perfect heirloom to keep forever and maybe even pass on to another bride. In today’s post we bring for you an exclusive interview with Founder and Designer of Belles by Raquel, Raquel Saliba.

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  1. Let’s begin the interview by knowing a bit about you and what motivated you to become a designer?

Beirut born and raised in Dubai, I grew up in an environment that encouraged handicrafts, my mother helped me grow a talent I had in making things. My earliest memories include sewing costumes during playtime with my cousins. However in college I decided to follow in the footsteps of my older sister and began a long and exciting career in advertising. In 2014 I decided to give my passion a chance and launched my first ready to wear bridal line of hair accessories.

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  1. How and when did you start your career in the wedding industry?

My love for bridal started a few years ago around the time when my cousin was planning her wedding. She was looking everywhere for a perfect headpiece or hair accessory to complete her look. We couldn’t find designs that were different and special so I convinced her to let me make her headpiece. One referral led to another and here I am today.

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  1. Tell us about your latest collection and where did you get the inspiration from?

Golden Serai was inspired by the kind of love you read in romance novels, a love that shines stronger in the night than the day. The designs reflect this passion with serai inspired movement, a mix of gold and flowers, gold dipped autumn leaves , each piece shines even under the weakest light

The collection consists of 8 pieces ; 3 glamorous crowns , 2 unique headbands , 2 hair vines which can be worn as dress embellishment and a pair of hair clips that also come as shoe clips.

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  1. How would you describe a normal day at work for you?

Juggling between taking care of my child full time and growing by brand BellesByRaquel is far from normal but a fulfilling personal and career feeling! My day starts with following up on emails, touching base with my stockists and talking to online and magazine editorial teams. The afternoon is fully dedicated to producing the pieces, I visit the ateliers in Dubai and work on handmade pieces myself. The evenings are fully dedicated to sketching and working on custom made designs for clients. Between park play dates and music class I also meet with brides and other business partners

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  1. What’re your favourite materials to work with and how long does it take to create a headpiece?

In the latest collection Golden Serai , the material I used are white and yellow gold plated metals, semi-precious stones and mulberry flowers

I also work with fabrics like chiffon, lace and tulle in different nuances of white. I also use mother of pearls, crystal stones/ teardrops and one of a kind charms that I buy from vintage stores.

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  1. Can you share 5 wedding headpiece shopping tips with the brides-to-be?

Tip 5: Research has never been easier. There are endless pictures from professional photo shoots and real brides to get ideas from. Head to Pinterest and Instagram for inspiration

Tip 4: Shortlist hairstyles that match your dress, theme and most importantly your character. Put aside the styles that you are not comfortable with and which are not familiar to you. Many brides stay true to hairstyles they wear often while adding that extra touch with a hair comb or headband

Tip 3: Visuals help. Even the best hair stylists cannot visualize what you are dreaming of so help them by bringing in a picture to your hair trial.  If you are unable to go for a trial , pictures are even more important to get it right from the first time

Tip 2: Do not settle for plain. Sometimes brides are overwhelmed with all the planning and tend to forget to plan for a hair accessory then often settle for a plain hair accessory offered by their hair dresser. This doesn’t have to be the case, some boutiques offer a beautiful variety of hair accessories from combs, headbands, ribbons and even fascinators.

Tip 1: Be creative. Hair accessories can help brides match within a wedding theme. Today we see brides coordinating hair accessories with her brides maids, flower girls and even the men’s boutonnieres.

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  1. What bridal headpiece trends do you see emerging in 2016?

Although Bridal trends are not as apparent as fashion trends, the most popular looks are timeless and will come in season year on year. However we have seen a focus on embellished hair vines and headbands, also more brides are going for the classic hair bun decorated with a statement hair pin

This season the bridal fashion world reintroduced the classic silhouettes with lots of lace illusions, sheer necklines and pearls. We also saw column silhouettes, more pant jumpsuits and detachable skirts. This could all very well translate into accessorizing minimalistic dresses with a lot of sparkle and oomph. Who can forget the embellished headphones and selfie stick on the ReemAcra catwalk, they stole the show!

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  1. What do you consider the most challenging yet exciting part of your job?

The first challenge is breaking through the norms. Brides in our region are very careful when it comes to accessorizing. They invest all their energy on the dress and jewellery and sometimes miss the opportunity to complete the look with a statement hair accessory. But slowly, I see this is changing with more brides appreciating a beautiful headpiece

Another challenge is compromise when it can be avoided. Brides do not have to settle for a plain hair accessory that they pick up at their hairdresser. There is low awareness on the accessibility to these pieces; it could be a result of boutiques and salons not offering their brides more options of the different designs.

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  1. Other than designing gorgeous headpieces, what are your hobbies?

I am a yogi, when I have the time! I love the serenity and disconnect I feel when I join a class. My son is now discovering new tastes and flavors so I have a new found passion in cooking healthy unprocessed meals

  1. What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?

Over and over again, the highlight of my day is when I see my bride’s wedding pictures. For a bride to choose to wear my design on such a special occasion is the proudest moment in my career

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  1. Why did you choose to display your headpieces at The Bridal Showroom?

TBS is one of the few bridal shops that have a passion for all things bridal. The team’s spirit, expertise and knowledge makes working with them such a lovely experience. I am so happy that my designs have found a home at TBS

  1. Lastly, what message would you like to share with TBS brides?

Brides should stay true to themselves on their wedding day!

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Fatima


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