Fashion Designer, Assali
Fashion designer Eva Boulos is fast becoming known for her brilliantly bold use of colors in her comfortably chic designs. Born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti as the daughter of Haitian art enthusiasts, Eva was constantly surrounded by paintings of tropical landscapes and bright, vivid colors. ASSALI, named after her grandmother (whose pearls and lipstick were Eva's first entry into the world of fashion), offers clothing for chic and confident women who understand the need to be comfortable and fashionable all at once. Her designs blend femininity with a touch of edge and are made of the best quality materials. Read on to find out why we (and soon to be you) have the largest girl crush on this globetrotting, down to earth, fashionista!
VacationStyle: Tell us about growing up in Haiti…
Eva Boulos: I grew up in Port-au-Prince in Haiti and was fortunate enough to travel a great deal while I was young – I went to university in the U.S., then after moved to Dubai and then to Lebanon where I live currently. I feel very lucky to have grown up in Haiti. It’s so beautiful and rich in culture – and people didn’t know about Haiti until the earthquake. We didn’t have movie theaters or malls, instead we were very much in tune with nature; we’d make our own adventures and go to the beach every weekend. Haiti is a very raw Caribbean life with not a lot to do, but the little things you do are very special.
I moved to Dubai to work in fashion after attending university in the States. I wanted to stay in the Middle East, so I moved to Lebanon. I’ve been living in the Middle East for 10 years and absolutely love it.
VS: What are some of the hidden gems in Haiti?
EB: My best friends recently opened a beautiful boutique hotel in Port-au-Prince, Maxime Boutique Hotel. Petra Nemcova and Donna Karan often stay there. So many people are coming to Haiti to help and rebuild it. The fashion in the country has really started to grow. Haiti was very well known for our embroidery and lace, but we lost that part of Haiti over the past years. Donna Karan has her whole Urban Zen line produced by locals.
VS: How have you brought the culture into your inspiration for your line?
EB: I’m so inspired by my background and my childhood in Haiti. A lot of inspiration comes from my grandmother, who used to sew all of our uniforms for school and everything we wore was tagged – she was the only one that did it. She was always very proper, dressed in pearls, and always wore red lipstick. I have memories of her wearing red lips even with her pajamas on!
I grew up surrounded by rich colors. My father was an art collector and a lot of the art he collected was so rich in color. For my first collection, I infused bold and vibrant colors into the line.
I usually take my time to curate the color palette – even with lace, I cut and dye it myself, which is how I feel what the collection is really about.
VS: How would you describe the style of your collection?
EB: Sexy. It’s from the Haitian culture, you can’t say we’re Latin, but you have that sexy Caribbean vibe. It’s sunny most of the year, so it’s definitely sexy, but it definitely airs on the conservative side. Conservative sexy. I live in oversized shirts and lots of lace!
VS: How did you start your brand?
EB: I left design school to pursue a PR position at CHALHOUB in Dubai. It’s a firm equivalent to an LVMH. I worked in the Fashion/PR sector, very close to the owner who also started her own collection – giving me firsthand experience to fashion shows, etc… I got even more immersed and interested when I met two amazing girls who were moving from Lebanon to launch KiTSCH Concept in Dubai, which was already established in Lebanon. I interviewed with them and they wanted me to open and launch the store itha cupcake island. I handled everything – buying, merchandising, etc. It’s a totally different market in the Middle East than it is in the United States. It just was so interesting to me.
VS: Your go-to spots in Beirut?
EB: I love Hotel Albergo. It’s an old neighborhood hotel with two restaurants that are out of this world!
PLAY – Skybar - At night in the summer, you need to go to Skybar. It’s the most fun place in the world, every night is always different and it’s only open in the summer so you don’t get bored of it.
Iris - Great rooftop lounge with a live band on Tuesday
EAT – My neighborhood is up-and-coming, and I’m such a person that I love to take in everyday.
Acoté – I love to pass time at this little French bistro below my house: I go down, have a glass and wine and just people watch. Lebanon isn’t a walking city, but with two other restaurants there, so many people are walking by.
Liza Beirut – A beautiful Lebanese restaurant in an old villa
Grid – Great coffee shop in the middle of the Souk
SHOP – BOUTIQUE1 is my favorite store. I always find what I want and it’s a cool, diverse shop.
VS: What about Miami excites you?
EB: There’s so much going on there right now! Miami feels like home to me. It’s changed a lot over the years and I go less often now. I love South Beach and the up-and-coming Design District; beyond the Design District – Wynwood has really started booming in the last year. It’s super cool to see the transformation.
Panther Coffee is a great coffee shop with such a cool vibe.
VS: Most memorable vaca?
EB: Mykonos is always a good idea.
VS: What's your style on vacation?
EB: It depends on where I’m going and how I’m feeling. I love dressing up at night on vacation so I always bring lots of evening cloth with fun accessories. In Lebanon you dress as simple as possible and a little more conservative so in vacation I get a chance to be very playful with fashion.
On vacation – I definitely opt for heels at night, dresses, and skirts. During the day I’m more laid-back: Adidas, Golden Goose, Jeans, Tees (I’m obsessed with t-shirts – you name it, I have it in my closet!) I always need to have at least 3-4 white and black tees.
I’m all about shoes, sunglasses, and accessories. Since I am a designer, I wear my own line – and for vacation I always customize pieces for myself.
VS: Go-to brands?
EB: Clothing Staples – (Aside for my own pieces, of course!) I love the Lebanese designer SANDRA Mansour for some custom pieces. Right now for jeans I’m obsessed with FRAME and Rag & Bone. I go through cycles of what jean brands I wear.
Jewelry – The past five-six months I haven’t been about to take off Lito’s eye necklace. I’m very into designing my own jewelry – being in Lebanon it’s really easy to get amazing quality supplies that are inexpensive.
Shoes – Aquazzura and Gianvito Rossi. I’m all about comfort. I love Gianvito Rossi’s simple stilettos since I’m a petite girl and they make my legs look longer and are so comfortable. I love Louboutin’s, but sadly I cannot walk in them.
VS: What’s next for your brand?
EB: I pour my heart into every season. I’m still a young designer trying to find out who I am and the market is difficult so I am always on the look out to alter my brand to change with the requests and needs of my customers. I am also thinking about launching a Kids line, which I think would be a very fun project!
VS: Favorite travel or beauty essentials?
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