Tuesday, April 19, 2011

People in the Know: Noor Al-Sabah

Beyond the glitz and glamour of the runway shows during fashion week, lies another world seldom reported on by the press: that of the fashion buyer. In the span of a week they spend appointment-packed days running from one showroom, rented apartment, and hotel suite to the next, filling in orders for the coming season (without-hopefully- going over budget). They are also prized for their ability to gage the fashion mood of the moment; selecting items meant to lure customers into their stores 6 months from now.

This rarified group also includes a small contingency from the Middle East attending the shows. Amongst them is Noor Al-Sabah, the globetrotting head buyer and fashion director for Kuwait’s AlOthman. Established in 1956, it is arguably one of the first fashion boutiques established in the Gulf. Today this Kuwaiti fashion institution has grown into a multi-brand store with an outpost in Bahrain.

Since arriving at AlOthman, Al-Sabah has acquired a reputation amongst industry insiders in the Middle East, for her ability to spot emerging design talent before they hit the big time. So much so that she has helped transform the venerable Kuwaiti store into a fashion incubator for young talent.

Part of Al-Sabah’s success lies in her homework. An avid traveler to places as far flung as L.A., Greece and Beirut, Noor makes it a point to check out the retail scene wherever she goes. This includes paying attention to happenings at art galleries and even the way people dress on the street; all of which ultimately informs her own choices as a fashion buyer.

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