What do women look for in a bag? Practicality? A statement? Quality? More space for our numerous products? Why not everything? Lebanese designer Joumana Dagher is here to show us how it’s done!

After years of working in graphic design and advertising, Joumana took her lifelong passion for print and transformed it into her unique artistic expression in the fashion industry. 2013 was the year that she finally launched her namesake brand of bags and accessories based on her unique print pattern designs, all handmade in Lebanon. Her pieces are proudly cut, sewn, and polished by hand from start to finish by master craftsmen and women.

After years of experimenting, she developed her signature waterproof and wear-resistant fabric, which ensured great quality, while using fresh and colorful designs. Joumana also cares greatly about sustainable fashion, using repurposed materials collected from factories and artisan workshops, such as Italian leather and African wax leftovers.

Through her collections, you will find everything you wish, from vintage prints to minimalist typography, Joumana’s creations are the perfect addition for a bold, confident woman, who knows what she wants in an unapologetic way. The threads, fabrics, and colors used form an unique fashion experience.

Let’s take a journey into her perspective!

What would make your soul sing? What makes you happy?

A singing soul is a content and happy soul. That joy is passed to those around me… small moments full of laughter and smiles makes me happy, the little things are the best. I have a classical music background and I love music, especially Beethoven and Rachmaninov, there is something in their music that inspires my day and my work

A childhood story that announced the creative person you are today

I remember my father asking my younger sister why she was not interested in crafts and stationary like I was. I used to collect fabrics and small pieces of wood, take my painting tubes, and try to mix them, I was very curious and never accepted an object just as an object. It had to go beyond that for me, and I loved experiencing with these materials. Even in my piano lessons, improvisation was my favorite part.

Best context ever for inspiration was:

Style can change in many ways. I am not tied to a particular school when it comes to artistic creation. It’s a combination of feelings and my environment. It’s a natural evolution. Having said that, I have always loved vintage (and still do), even though I am increasingly drawn toward minimalism.

My work is generally bold and quite colorful as it needs to make a statement. My lines are geometric and linear, similar to the way music is structured. They can grow thick when in crescendo and will not need much detail in shading or color when fading over time.

Travel impacts my work the most.
I live off new discoveries in culture, color, and form. Though I like nature, it is human contact that tickles my imagination and carries my work from concept to product. I also collect ritual paint, old boxes, tickets, and masks as well as play the piano.

The project you loved most:

Ideally, every piece in a portfolio should possess a strong concept and a solid design. I don’t have a favorite because each project has a different identity.

However, I loved the La Croisette Beach bags I designed and produced for the centenary of Chopard. It is gratifying to create a new product or design that is then acquired and worn by someone. It is like an invitation into someone’s life, a shared connection.

The project others loved most:

I created a collection called “Beirut graffiti” a couple of years ago influenced by the street art across the city at that time.

The best thing about Lebanese Creativity is:

We live in a country known for so much diversity, (religious, social…). Lebanese creativity is not common, we don’t have a routine lifestyle. The best thing is when Lebanese artists use these various mediums to express their perspectives and critiques of our country’s political, economic, and social circumstances.

The Lebanese people demonstrated through time the ability to work and thrive in very difficult and demanding environments. My advice would be to give the young, motivated, hardworking, and determined Lebanese the chance to prove their worth. They are surprisingly creative and can cope with the pressures and changes of our world today.

Best statement of Lebanese humor:

The statements of nowadays revolution. One of our favorite parts in these protests is the posters with humorous sayings, custom-made posters with powerful statements.

Advice for international head hunters, related to Lebanese Creatives:

It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed.

Best place in Beirut:

The Sursock Museum is amongst the foremost art places to see in Beirut. The various exhibitions are certainly an attraction, and the expansive mansion built in the style of Lebanese classic architecture will blow your mind!

Best Place in Lebanon:

The mountains! I find the beauty of our Lebanese mountains enchanting; relatively small compared to the giants of the world, yet so dramatic in their physical features, colors, and steep plunge into the sea.

Most disturbing cliché about Lebanon, in the media outlets of the world is:

These tired and old stereotypes of violence and hatred are now being broken by the unity and love we are witnessing today

Lebanon should be known for:

The Lebanese are resilient and worldly, and offer hospitality like no other. Lebanese people will invite you into their homes and insist you stay. They are famous for knowing how to have a good time no matter the situation. 

Lebanon is home to so much difference and, despite the history of conflict, the overwhelming majority of Lebanese express and live their identities beautifully and in harmony.

Your views on spirituality:

I  believe that spiritual growth arises from a willingness to see the divine in others and in nature. I believe we cross paths with different people for a reason even if not readily evident.

Your views on money:

I am very bad with money. I simply spend what I have… life experience showed me that my favorite things in life did not need any money.

A book or other inspiration source you recommend for someone to evolve as a creative person today:

For me, it was Beethoven, Bach, Van Gogh, Warhol, and Vasarely

A female talent that deserves to be part of this international mapping of Middle Eastern creativity and thus promoted at a worldwide level:

Rola Hoteit is the first-ever Lebanese female pilot to fly a commercial airplane. She successfully broke through the cultural and traditional stereotypes of the professional capabilities of Lebanese women. She made it with merits to the captain seat of the Middle East Airlines in 2010, inspiring and leading the way to her countrywomen. I find her very inspiring!

Photos courtesy of Joumana Dagher. Check out her designs by clicking here.