Simply branded, Cheyma,the debut collection of 26-year old Parisian designer, Cheyma, is a carefully crafted blend of her French and Tunisian roots. With elements of clean cut Parisian chic, and Tunisian flair, Cheyma’s branch has successfully filled a niche for comfortable yet stylish clothing. Having been nurtured by the fashion greats, in what some say is the heart of fashion itself; Paris, Cheyma’s connaissance and innate artistic leaning set her in a prime position to launch her own label.
The classy, elegant, and seemingly effortless aura that entrenches the city of love is lauded the world over, and as a Parisian herself, Cheyma confirms that it is an attitude and look that Parisians pride themselves on. With its stunning gothic architecture, gourmet food, and impeccable street-fashion, Paris is a must-visit for haute women everywhere. Cheyma’s identity as a Tunisian-Parisian is her ‘je ne sais quoi’ which comes through well in her collection, and propels it to the forefront of the modest clothing market. Her pieces are made with Parisian perfection and Algerian passion. Most of the pieces are hand-made by the designer herself, with only one seamstress to help manage the most complex cuts, and delicate materials. This immersive hands-on approach allows Cheyma to successfully translate the soul behind her concepts into the clothes, without any loss of her original vision during the stages between inception to creation.
Partitioning her time between Paris and Algiers, Cheyma utilises the perks of the two cities to help build her label. “Paris is where I have my family”, explains Cheyma, “it’s where I have my friends, my network, and where I do most of my business. Algiers is where my husband’s business is based so we travel back quite a lot, and this is the place where I draw most of my inspiration. Here I have my atelier, my studio, and this is where much of the creative process happens for me. I travel around a lot when I’m in Algeria which helps me think of new ideas. I’m easily bored with monotony so going back and forth is perfect for me and the brand”. Cheyma was in Algeria when we caught up with her, and her sweet, charming aura made a great impression on us.
Here are our 60-seconds with Cheyma Ben Hassine!
You have worked with some of the fashion greats, such as Dior and Chloe, right in the heart of Paris. What made you realise that it was time for you to launch your own label?
I learnt so much, when I just started working for Dior they had just fired Jon Galliano. He was replaced by his assistant Bill Gaytten who is one of my favourite designers of all time. He is so humble despite being amazing at what he does. His modesty is so rare in this industry! When I was coming to the end of my internship there, Raf Simmons came. He is also someone I enjoyed working with, but in a different way… He is more of a star than Bill Gaytten. After being nurtured by all of these brilliant names at Dior, and Chloe, I had learnt enough to start out on my own. It was so intense being at those big labels. We have a saying in French, “voler de ses propres ailles” which means to start flying with your own wings. There was something instinctively pulling me to start my own label. I was full of ideas of what I wanted to see on women, once those ideas were out I had to see them come to life. I was also so tired of seeing the same old thing all the time, I wanted something more original, for myself, and other women. Now it gives me so much joy and honour to see people wearing what was previously a concept in my head. This is the biggest reward, people loving what you do.
In your own personal style do you opt for comfort or style?
This is a question that suggests that there is only one without the other. Us women shouldn’t have to compromise looking good and feeling comfortable. This is what Cheyma is all about; feeling good in your clothes, but still looking sophisticated and gorgeous. I wanted to solve that problem that we have as women as we often are faced with that choice,
We completely agree! This is a question that we often ask our fashion guests on the blog, and we never stop to think, why can’t we have the both! Ok, next question; how involved are you in the creation of your pieces. Do you have someone turn your ideas into reality or do you work with a team?
I sew 3/4 of all the clothes myself. I have a seamstress who helps me with the trickiest parts and the delicate materials but other than that I do most of the creation, from the designing to the finished product. During my time at Dior and Chloe, I was doing trend studies, and frankly, I didn’t know why I was doing them and not the designer only. I believe a designer should be heavily involved in finding out what the current styles are so they can understand that for their own creations and have the inspiration come to them. I think it’s one of the most important parts of the creative process, the designer should be the original point of inspiration.
What is your shopping mantra?
I am very picky clothes-wise, but I say, “If you can’t stop thinking about it, buy it!”
What do you look for in shoes, comfort or style?
When it comes to shoes, I don’t care about comfort at all. I go for heels every time, even though they hurt me so much! But I just love wearing them.
Tell us about a hidden gem of a shop that you found?
Guerrisol in Paris is a fantastic second-hand shop. You can buy designer coats for 3 euros! It’s pretty well known in France but it’s exclusive to Paris.
Which item do you buy mostly in black?
Everything! Everything in black I love.
Whose wardrobe do you most borrow from?
I don’t borrow much from others as I’m selective. If I borrow it would be for comfortable clothing, so I would say my brother, my husband’s and my father’s.
Your current wardrobe MVP?
Jeggings. They are so comfortable and they go with everything. I even wear them to dinner and formal occasions.
Any Zara shoes.
Favourite high-street store?
Forever 21, H&M, ZARA.
Victoria Beckham and ‘The Row’, one of the Olsen sisters’ line. They are so subtle, incorporating modesty in their clothes, and that is so refreshing. It is so frustrating to have to constantly see skin all the time. Nowadays, everything seems to be about being sexy by showing skin. Victoria Beckham and the Olsen sisters have pieces that give you a sense of femininity without being an object.
As you just mentioned, the fashion industry has a lot of emphasis on sex-appeal. Aside from this, what aspect do you dislike in the fashion world?
All the showing off. People should be complimented, not compliment themselves. I also like it when people don’t take themselves too seriously. For example, Victoria Beckham has a reputation for never smiling, but in a recent interview with Vogue, the columnist asked her, what is your favourite spice, she replied “Posh”. She showed that she actually does have a sense of humour which is nice.
What do you love about the Parisian fashion scene?
The effortless chic look. I love the fact that a woman in Paris will walk past with nude make-up, or a messy bun, and you might think she woke up like that, but actually it took her hours to perfect that look.
What don’t you like about fashion in Paris?
As soon as something becomes cool, it is suddenly “Parisienne”. I think to myself, no, I’m sure I’ve seen that before outside of Paris!
If you could meet up with 3 people, anywhere in the world, who would they be and where would you go?
I would invite Sama and Haya Abu Khadra, Jon Snow, and my husband to Sidi Bou Said in Tunisia. It’s a beautiful place, honestly, check it out you would love it. We would have some traditional mint tea on one of the rooftops there.
Three people that we should be following right now?
Gigi Hadid, Sofiia Manousha, Shalini Papas, and me of course!
Tell us about the fashion scene in Algeria, is it conservative or do women opt for statement clothing?
In general, they are conservative but there are four main cities which are exceptions to that rule; Algiers, Oran, Annaba and Constantine. The women in those cities do not dress like the women from the smaller towns, there they are bolder and have a great sense of fashion, especially in Constantine. Yet they are still conservative. Not in the sense that they won’t show any skin etc. but they would look at you as strange if you go out of their norm. It’s like, they have their own fashion norm and if you step out of that too much you would stand out like a sore thumb.
Finally, if you could choose one person to be the face of the brand, who would it be?
A Scandinavian model named Freja Beha. She has such natural beauty, and is easily identifiable with. I wouldn’t want the brand to be overshadowed by someone’s fame, I want people to be able to see themselves in the clothes, and identify with the brand.