President and Managing Director of Etoile Group, Ingie Chalhoub has been a stalwart personality for the luxury retail sector within the Middle East for the last several decades. Leading the fashion powerhouse since she established it in 1983, Chalhoub has brought over 200 international ultra-luxury brands to the region including Chanel, Valentino, Ralph Lauren, Tod’s and John Galliano. In 2005, she established her own luxury fashion concept, Etoile La Boutique, which houses a variety of high-end fashion designers and boasts several locations throughout the GCC. In 2009, Chalhoub decided to make a foray into the creative realm and launch her own line, INGIE Paris.
Making the progression from store owner to designer hasn’t been easy. INGIE Paris is the result of countless years of sitting front row at the fashion shows as well as Chalhoub’s myriad of artistic and contemporary inspirations. “Everyone who walks into Etoile la Boutique should feel unique,” she says. “We help clients pick out clothes to best suit their personality. It is about personality and glamour – each piece of clothing is an artistic piece. Each piece involves countless hours of care and craftsmanship – something I now know well.”
Last season, INGIE Paris made its first foray into a multi-brand department store other than Chalhoub’s own and now sits alongside other brands at Saks Fifth Avenue in Burjuman. Given the young age of the brand, her designs are under constant scrutiny by Saks’ head buyers. Regardless, Chalhoub commits the same will power and determination into launching her own line that she has over the past decades with the Etoile Group. And success has already come. A big accomplishment for her this year was the opening of the designer’s very first INGIE Paris boutique in Kuwait at The Avenues at the city’s Prestige Mall. Moreover, she’s doing this for herself. “As you grow older you think perhaps ‘you’ve done it’, but then you ask if this is what you’d like to do and if you’re doing it for the glory of it,” she says. “I’ve done it and now I want to please myself."
Modern and contemporary art are primary creative inspirations for Chalhoub. “When I was young I wanted to be a painter,” she says. “My creativity has needed to come out.” Entitled A Weekend in Paris at the Crillon Hotel, Chalhoub’s latest collection is named after one of her favourite leisure spots and boasts elegant separates made in fine knitwear, intricately woven tweed and quilted silk. The collection refers to the idea of women as global citizens and incorporates stylistic references from Japan, Kenya, China and France, all countries which inspire her – cultural notes that signal Chalhoub’s global vision for her brand. “My vision for INGIE Paris is to take the brand outside of the Middle East,” she says. “I think now I am ready for the next step.”