We asked a woman who's done it
Israeli actress-turned-designer Dodo Bar Or launched her eponymous fashion brand in 2014. In just three years she has built a cult following on social media and IRL, with her garments now available at stockists including Net-A-Porter, Selfridges, Harrods, Avenue 32 and Liberty. Taking her inspiration from Middle Eastern street style and the women she loves (including incidentally, original rock chick Courtney Love) we caught up with her to find out if life as a fashion designer is *really* as much fun as it sounds.
How did you become a fashion designer?
‘I was a movie and theatre actress for years and always loved fashion. I wanted to express myself in another way, so I started buying beautiful designer clothes and cutting them up – I think that’s when I realised I had a problem! I knew that if I didn’t explore that side of my personality it would cost me a lot of money – either from cutting up designer clothes or in therapy! The moment I started designing it felt completely natural. I was creating something where I was not just the actress but the director, screen writer and producer. I launched my brand in September 2014 at the Silencio club in Paris with a theme inspired by David Lynch – Paris and David Lynch are two of my favourite things so it was the perfect combination.’
Where do you find inspiration for your collections?
‘I try to bring a fusion of Middle Eastern, Yemeni and Moroccan cultures to my creations; the architecture, the graphic ornamental shapes, and the surprising colour combinations. Rich silk velvet fabrics, embellished with silver and gold handmade embroidery – it’s all about the details which make every garment an individual piece. Something which can be combined with a denim jacket and a white t-shirt for a relaxed look, or heels for a night out.’
The Maria shirt from the A/W ’17 collection
What’s been the highlight of your career as a fashion designer so far?
‘I have had many highlights in my career and it’s hard to compare and choose which one is the biggest, I’m still waiting for it.’
The Gilda dress from the A/W ’17 collection
What’s the best thing about being a fashion designer?
‘I can wake up every morning and create. Transforming my creation into something real – that is the biggest gift.’
The Loren dress from the A/W ’17 collection
And the most challenging?
‘My work involves a lot of travelling and being away from home. It’s difficult for me because I’m a mum, and I do pay a high price for it. But at the same time I’m doing it for myself and my family. I believe that I’m raising a generation of feminists and teaching them that you never need to give up your dreams. That is what keeps me going.’
The Siya colourful kimono from the A/W ’17 collection
Where would you love to be in ten years’ time?
‘It’s hard for me to answer because since launching the brand so many amazing things have happened that I’m still processing it. Right now, my biggest desire is to grow, develop and touch as many people as I can with my art.’