Saudi footwear designer Lulu Al Hassan puts her right foot forward
Designer says art is a translation of life in all its forms and the right footwear can empower women
Known for her elegant taste and playful designs, Lulu Al Hassan is one of the first Saudi footwear designers. She is 36 and was born in the US, and strongly believes that shoes make a big statement and can translate into confidence. Her luxury brand, Lu Vixen, is much-loved, and her first collection at the London Fashion Week was a huge success, after which she was offered two television shows to focus on design and artist in the region.
Interestingly she was a feet model in her early ages, which gave her a better understanding of feet etiquette and a full understanding of the footwear world from a real-life and consumer perspective.
She is known for her collaborations with various brands, her latest being with Shoemart, with the launch of their first capsule collection, Lulu Loves Celeste, available to shop at Shoemart stores across the UAE, KSA and Kuwait and online.
Lulu feels that the art industry is certainly not a man’s world, and has dedicated her limited-edition range to women empowerment, which was released especially for Eid, featuring styles in a palette of colours that boasted elegance and sophistication.
For Lulu, art is immortality, “It is the beauty that never dies or get old. For me, art is the translation of life in all its forms,” she says over a virtual conversation across the screen.
Having lived in Dubai for two years, she recalls the day she decided to pursue shoe designing she was in Downtown Dubai. Her last visit to the city was in 2019, though. We learn more about her artistic journey.
Heels are pretty, but there’s nothing better than running around the town in a pair of flats. What are your views on that?
In my opinion, for every shoe and height, there is an occasion that suits its personality. Heels are not made to run around in but made to make you look aristocratic, elegant and sexy. I always encourage women to learn about their feet type, their skin tone and the different styles of shoes available for each one of them; before they make a choice.
Each piece of your latest collection is named distinctively and inspired by the varied personalities of women such as chic, independent, delightful, picky to name a few. Tell us more.
As women, we tend to connect with certain objects or ideas, such as horoscope or zodiac and you’ll be surprised to see how strongly we connect to it. While designing this collection, I wanted to find a bond that all of us share, keeping in mind the ethos and vision of Shoemart. So I came up with personalities that every woman shares and can easily relate to. So, no matter what your personality, the Lulu Loves Celeste collection has them all — pointed heels, peep-toe mules, strappy stilettos, textured flats, platform heels, slingbacks and square toe styles, each piece is named distinctively after the varied personalities of women that they can relate to.
Where would you say your early inspirations from art came from?
As a child, I travelled a lot with my family and that gave me an early exposure to art. Also, my grandmother was a tailor and I was always attracted to fabrics. I studied arts and majored in English Literature, which allowed me to experience and see plays and stories, which continue to inspire me to date.
You mentioned how your inspirations during the pandemic came from your previous travel experiences, tell us more.
I usually like to visit a lot of vintage places and shops, historical palaces and I take my time to feel them with all my senses. By just remembering it in my memory I can immediately see the full picture and I use that memory to live that moment again. I can almost smell the wind, flowers and grass again and I can even feel the touch of the fabrics and materials; this is something I always use as inspiration when I sketch and design.
Do you recall a time when you knew this is what you’d like to do for a living and passion?
Shoes were something that I was attracted to since I was a baby. It was during my last semester while studying art that I realised and eventually decided to pursue it as my passion.
How much did the pandemic affect your creative process?
I am used to living alone and that always helps fuel my creativity and give me a lot of time to develop what I would like to bring to life. The pandemic gave me lots of free time to paint, think, sketch, and structure my thoughts.
Shoes can make a fashion-art statement. Your views.
We always dress from the feet up, not the other way around. So, anything you wear will always pop up if matched with the right shoes. I don’t feel that shoes are merely accessories it’s a full statement that can transform your whole personality. Your shoes are your statement.
Do you have any favourite themes or colour palettes?
I start with whatever inspires me and then gradually build the theme and palette around it. I followed a similar process whilst creating the Lulu Loves Celeste collection. It features 28 styles in a palette of colours from classic blacks, metallic tones along with bright pops of red and yellow. Each of these styles is uniquely crafted in my signature style and adorned with a feminine star embellishment on the metallic outer sole lending the collection a touch of glitz and glam.
If not an artist, you would have been?
Do you have a message for artists who are starting out?
Tell your story. Show both your good and dark side. It’s the mix and balance between success and failure that makes you exceptional.