I’m so thrilled to be featuring Bela Shehu, a dear friend and the wildly talented designer behind NINObrand.
NINObrand is Bela’s ready to wear collection, and is, to quote Philly Magazine, “chic enough to be in Paris, edgy enough to be in London, and luxe enough to be in Milan,” yet is 100% made (and designed) in the USA.
I’m a huge fan. Not only are her pieces the types of statement-making, wardrobe-changing, wear-everywhere modern classics that make my heart beat fast, but they are also…wait for it…machine washable.
Normally, in order to purchase NINObrand clothing (much to the consternation of my Instagram followers), you have to make an appointment at Bela’s Atelier. Which, quite honestly, if you are local to Philly, is totally worth the trip. You kick off your shoes, have a little coffee, and proceed to play dress-up in the most creative clothing you’ve ever seen. Truly a magical experience! (And if you happen to fall in love with, uh, everything, fear not, because the price point is shockingly reasonable for this type of clothing. Most pieces run in the $300 – $500 range, a far cry from the thousands I was expecting from an “atelier”.)
The exciting news is that Bela, in a special collaboration with The Mom Edit, has created an online boutique of all of my NINObrand favorites. For a limited time, you can purchase my favorites from her current collection online.
So head on over and take a look (or keep reading for a peek at my favs, along with some fit/sizing notes, and a seriously cool Q&A with Bela herself).
The Ravi Top
This Ravi Top perfectly illustrates what Bela does so well with NINObrand. It’s a button-down shirt: simple, classic, something you wear everyday. But she tweaks it with detachable sleeves and oversized cuffs turning this basic into something seriously cool and edgy.
Ravi Top (wearing a size 2 for a slouchier look)
The Naveed Tee
Girl knows her way around a tshirt. The Naveed tee unzips to show off a collarbone and pretty bra strap, or keep it zipped for a cool twist on a simple tee. This tee is extra special with a little handpainted artwork on the back….
Naveed Tee (size 1 for reference)
The Bridgette Pant
Want to totally rock your office edit? The Bridgette Pant. Bela herself was featured in Glamour wearing these seriously cool pants. She paired hers with a long, peplum top (SO good), but they work just as well with a tee.
The Quinn Top
I’m wearing Bela’s Quinn V.2 top half-tucked, but it’s really tunic length. The drape in the back is so good that it’s more like an art piece.
An art piece that you can also wear to the beach as a coverup.
Quinn V.2 top (wearing a size 0 for reference)
The Tamar Maxi Dress
Speaking of beach cover-ups, THIS is what Bela wears to the beach. This grecian-goddess Tamar dress is actually made from a technical fabric, so you can ball it up, throw it in a bag, roll it around in the sand and then just shake it out and it’ll look like…..
….this. I mean seriously. Nothing could be better.
Unless, of course, I told you that it was designed to be worn with or without a belt for two totally different looks….
Tamar Dress (wearing a size 1 for reference – but size up if you are very tall)
Bela is magic, I know.
The Tristan Convertible Dress/Romper
Speaking of magic, see this sweet little dress? It’s called The Tristan. This dress has hidden snaps under the hem and when you snap them closed…..
…ROMPER. But one you don’t need to take completely off to pee.
The Tristan (wearing a size 1 for reference)
The Skylar Dress
The Skylar Dress is the one piece in our little collection that isn’t machine washable (it’s silk, people, silk). But it’s one heck of a little black dress. The skirt has two zippers – one on each side so you can control the va-va-voom.
The Skylar Dress (wearing a size 2 for reference – it runs small)
The Noor Dress
Make no mistake, the Noor dress is a princess dress. It twirls and swirls and may cause sudden bouts of I FEEL PRETTY euphoria.
Noor dress (wearing a size 1 in the photos, but would actually go with a size 0. Warning: skip this one if you are very tall.)
The Bo Dress
The Bo Dress is Mike’s favorite. He can’t resist the combo of the sexy back with the slightly nerdy vibe from the front.
It’s sexy in a really fun, unexpected way. But I also love that it can be toned down with a tshirt and sneaks….
Bo Dress (wearing a size 1 for reference)
Q&A With Bela
1. You make the most interesting clothes. Who, ultimately, are you designing for? Do you have a muse, or a type in mind?
I’m sure you are familiar with the reality of “we are what we eat”. Well we are also what we wear! My main motivation is to satisfy all the moods and scenarios of my life style in an effortless and functional way. I suppose I am my own muse. I really sink into all experiences and have a sincere desire to package all of them appropriately.
I’ve always thought that the biggest luxury in life is freedom/spontaneity. The idea of life playing out itself just as it needs to without too much of my arranging is an aphrodisiac to me. Having gear that doesn’t tie me down to a mundane routine and dependency is total freedom. I know that my collectors enjoy this portion as well and I’m happy to please them.
I size the collection a bit differently; most of the styles are sized 1 – 4, size 1 being the equivalent of a size 2 and 4 of a size 12. I have been adding size 0 (for our smaller market) and size 5 to selected styles as the brand is growing in demand. A great return policy will be in place as well to make sure complete happiness with purchases.
I am a minimalist in all ways so these are the items that I use every day:
In days like these I always default to my Dries Van Noten oxfords and Trippen open toes booties. I’ve also been known to wear my Rick Owen high tops for all occasions as well – they bring out all that I am in the most confident way.
Other than my all-black urban ninja gear, I love lounge wear! I love oversized silky or chambray pants with a button down when I’m chilling or running to the cafe. I always have a robe and slippers on when home. When I’m not at my atelier working or showing my collection to my clients, my outfits get a bit experimental/outlandish; this is the time that I get to toy with proportions and shapes and how they feel in real life. During these days the magic of creating happens as I relate to new elements or am craving for the ones that are not present.
Ah, now you’re talking my specialty! Technical fabrics have been my focus for the past three years. I have a variety of water proof/wind proof items including a floor length skirt (Laura), and an urban hero cape/trench coat (Lena) that simply make life more interesting. There’s also Asher (this one you have), the genderless, deep hooded rain jacket with magnetic closures which allows one to operate hands-free on a wet day.
Oh babes, I travel with a small Swiss Army roll-y bag since I’m very careful not to break my body too much:).
I have been a bit obsessed with our new sterling silver choker, Ronnie. I’ve been doubling and tripling this since it has the power to make every lazy outfit rich. Same hand hammered choker style anklets have been adorning my ankles lately as well, making that cropped jean or pant that everyone is raving about the star of the outfit.
I am on my third pair of our dropped crotch Neel pant. This style has defined my entire style the last 5 years and has allowed me to grow and experiment with shape with absolutely no fear.
Bela, love, you are simply the best. I feel so lucky to know you, and am always in awe of what crazy (and crazy-amazing) things you come up with.
Also, for those interested, Bela has started a private stylist program. She’s looking to build a small team of people to host trunk shows and grow the brand. If you have access to a cool space (and know people who would totally geek out over a line like NINObrand), you can apply here.
Which pieces were your favorites? I’m such a dress girl that I’m stuck on the Tamar (grecian one-shoulder), the Bo (backless apron dress), and the Noor (the twirly princess dress). We’re taking the kids to Barcelona later this summer and I’m tempted to just pick two of the three dresses and call myself packed. But which two? The grecian-one shoulder, obviously, because that technical fabric is made for travel. But after that….which one? The backless one or the huge princess dress? GAH! I can’t decide!
Anyway, if you have any questions on the collection, feel free to let us know. I’ll do my best to answer, and I’m sure Bela would also be happy to weigh in.