When we first discovered HALABY we were blown away by the elegance of the bags which was so reminiscent of the bags worn by the Divas down Via Veneto during the Dolce Vita .
We then went on to discover Gilbert Halaby the founder and Creative Designer of Halaby in Rome was also a master jewellery designer and we just knew we had to interview him! 

We caught up with him at his store in the centre of Rome, just around the corner from the Pantheon in Via del Seminario 115!

Gilbert, You were born in Beirut, Lebanon, studied Archeology at University, went onto management positions in Zara and Pull & Bear and then in 2004 during a trip in Paris you suddenly found your new calling as a designer.

 By 2005 you had already opened a store selling jewellery and handbags just behind the Pantheon in the centre of Rome and by 2011 you were being awarded the Designer of the Year at the Eclat de Mode. 

Your handbags and jewellery have been worn on the red carpet countless times, you’ve appeared on Vogue and Vanity Fair on a regular basis, …. All this in the space of a few years, so we have to ask: What is the secret to your success?

There is no secret at all, it’s all about passion and commitment, having a dream and committing to it every day is a key to success.


Your passion for architecture is transparent in your designs, in both your jewellery and your handbags. What are your main sources inspiration in a city like Rome which has a plethora of architectural influences?

Well I can write down 50 pages and never finish writing about my inspirations in Rome, anyhow to make it short I’ll tell you about a small simple square, it’s Piazza delle tartarughe “piazza Mattei” one of my favorites in Rome, The colors the dimensions the shape and the proportions of the square and it’s fountain is just enchanting!


How much does your Lebanese background influence your work from a design perspective and how does it influence your life?

So much! The Arabic, Ottoman and French influence has gave me a great gift of a huge cultural package, as well as a very warm human contact experience.


What do you miss the most about Beirut?

My family, it’s people and the warm welcoming always and the big big smiles, the sea the small villages around Lebanon the archeological sites that I loved and most of all my childhood.


You were once quoted as having over 500 designs for bags in your portfolio, is this true? How many of these designs have you put into production to date?
It’s true and I have much more now that I lost the count. 
So far I realized more then 180 designs and I’m working on my FW13-­14 collection count around 40 to be alive very soon.


The 1950s seem to be a great influence on your work, particularly on your bags and jewellery where you’ve actually incorporated ‘one-­‐of-­‐a-­‐kind’ pieces which you have salvaged from vintage markets, where did this passion for the 1950s come from?

It comes from movies books music and most of all the master designers of the 50s


What has been your greatest ‘find’ to date?

My love and my dearest friends that I dedicate the 3 bags in my FW12-­13: ALELUNA, ILE and ROWY


What were the greatest challenges you faced when you first started out in the fashion/luxury business and what are your greatest challenges today?

Gaining the trust of my artisans, since I don’t come from a fashion school I had to fight my way in the most precious ateliers and suppliers in Italy. 

Today my challenge is me and the ideas that I have on daily basis, things are getting bigger and I have to follow up on every single inspiration that passes my mind.


The Autumn Winter Bag collection offers an extreme selection of looks: from the the delightfully classic ‘Aleluna’ with intricate pleating of the leather the result of exquisite craftsmanship, the serious and more ‘practical’ Clotilde’, the fun and young ‘ Ile’ and ‘Rowy’ , and the totally rocker meets Harajuku Girl ‘ (SPIDER). What was the inspiration behind the collection?

The FW12-­13 is all about good and bad, if you see the mix of the colors, dark and then bright in each piece and the collection itself. 

I believe that good always dominates the bad and there is always brightness if you know how to look for it.

HALABY  Clotilde 

Which one do you believe represents Halaby best and why?

The big “CLOTILDE” in fact I made for myself in a very light cream glace calfskin with grey metallic accessories and printed in black.


The Autumn Winter 2012-­‐13 Jewellery Collection appears to have a strong Classic Greco‐Roman feel to it. Could you tell us more about it?  What precious stones have been used in this collection and why? What was the inspiration behind it?

As I mentioned for the bags it’s all about Good and Bad, and in the jewellery you can see it clear, the mix between Tabou animals and insects and the good ones, the mix of the two metal colors, the very dark grey dominated by the bronze gold, and the mix of the colors of the stones, dark and then bright orange and red. It’s all about brightness from dark.  

Interpreting this Marriage of good and bad I used as usual the designs of one of the époques that I love the Greco-­ Roman with the metallic stamps.


How would you define yourself as a designer and as an individual?
Gosh!! As a designer I don’t know, I only enjoy what I do and you can see it in my work.

As an individual I’m a kid trying to play his game of life.

What designer (s) do you look at as a role model?

Christian Dior 


You often speak of the ‘Halaby Attitude’. How would you describe the ‘Halaby Attitude’ and which of your bags from the Autumn Winter 2012/13 collection represents this attitude the best and why?

It’s outside loud, the strong look of the shapes and forms, they don’t need to be sparkling it’s only a matter of proportions, Of the Fw12-­13 the ROWY ,the MEGA the Spider The MONI piccola.


Who buys Halaby? How would you describe your ‘typical’ client?

Curious, discreet selective and very attentive to details.

As many Italian brands look elsewhere to produce their work (generally cheaper labour) all your pieces are made exclusively by local Italian artisans. What was the rationale behind this?

Come with me one day to one of my artisans and have a look at his eyes when he’s completing a bag or realizing a model, It’s passion and only passionate people can do this job right.


Your collections can be found in some of the most famous stores in the world, how many points of sale do you have to date? What store would you particularly like to see you collections in and why?

So far HALABY is in more then 52 stores and I’d like to see it where the buyers believes in my vision and knows how to describe it to their clients.

Can you tell us more about your store in Rome? How did you choose its location?

It’s all about the pantheon, I believe it have a magical energy I searched and searched for a store nearby and finally I found it.


What experience do you hope your clients take home with them after visiting the store?

Courtesy and satisfaction.


You have already achieved so much in a short period of time, what are your plans for the future?

Creating and keep creating, I’m working on my first three Haute couture dresses and a capsule of perfumes and a lot more to come.


Should you wish to visit the Halaby boutique where you will probably get the chance to meet with the designer himself then pop onto a plane (or train) to Rome or you can purchase a selection of his collections on Luisa Via Roma