It's fun to dish about Oscar dresses and swoon over couture confections. But the true holy grail in fashion is finding clothes that fit well, function better, look good all day, don't cost a fortune--and wont' be seen on every other woman walking down the street. What I'm looking for is just what Bela Shehu's created with her new NINObrand.
On the rack, Bela's collection has the simple, unadorned lines that have always appealed to me. Pockets hide in seams, plackets cover buttons, nothing interferes with the clean line. On the body, these deceptively simple cuts flatter in a way you would think required all kinds of fancy tricks. But no. "In my clothes, there's no ruching, no gathering," says Bela. "It's all in the cut. Fabric--whether wool, silk, jersey--has a certain way it wants to drape. We'll take a trapezoid shape--looks like nothing when it's flat. By shifting the neckline we redistribute the weight. When you put it on, it comes to life."
The dress fits, it flatters, it moves with you. And then, you forget about it and go on with your life.
For years Bela has ghost designed for top names in the wardrobe world. One morning in bed she started writing out ideas for this new kind of look, based on flat pattern making. And she's launching it in a new kind of way. No boutique, as she did in the past. No mainstream advertising. She's approaching a few exclusive stores, showing at trunk shows, growing through word of mouth. And best of all, Style Maniac readers, she's offering the line through Private Appointments in her studio or a Private Event in your home, for a significant discount off the retail price. Which means this is actually couture you can put in your closet.
"What I'm building here is a heritage brand. Forward thinking, but classic. Timeless, well-constructed pieces that you can wear years from now," says Bela.
Clothes so well done, "they make you forget what you're wearing."
To schedule Private Appointments in the studio or Trunk Shows in your home contact NINObrand at
UPDATE NOVEMBER 2012: As a NINO fan and collector, I'm pleased to announce I'm joining Bela as a private sales consultant for the line. So now you can schedule private appointments through Style Maniac as well. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
UPDATE ENCORE, November 2014: My love affair with NINObrand continues to evolve! I am delighted to share that my role has expanded to VP & Director of Private Sales.
Top photo by Patrick Ibanez. Bottom photo via NINObrand Facebook Page. All other photos by Doreen Creede.
"Use the good china for breakfast."