Farida Talaat: Zorar

Interview conducted by Marie-Christine Tayah, Editor-in-Chief 


Zorar, meaning ‘buttons’ in Arabic, is a handmade bags and accessories brand inspired by buttons. The brand, aptly named, features unique and funky bags designed using an eclectic mix of colorful buttons, charms and other creative ornaments.


The idea is the brainchild of Farida Talaat, an Egyptian designer living in Dubai who draws inspiration from life, colors, different cultures, her travels and readings. Combining her passion for buttons and love for quirky fashion styles, Farida produced a line of statement handbags in bright vibrant colors such as mango-yellow and kiwi-green all adorned with a random array of unusual buttons and embellishments.


Farida’s vision is to create quaint singular bags that combine beauty, functionality and style. All bags are designed and handcrafted personally by Farida allowing her to pay close attention to detail. Made of the highest quality material and handpicked accessories from glass beads and pearls to crystals and semi-precious stones, brooches and bows to pins and crochet flowers, Zorar bags offer a fresh change from mass produced high-end handbags.  


Zorar’s bag collections offer a diverse and inspiring range of original pieces that reflect innovation and creativity. The bags are an unprecedented accessory that come in different shapes and sizes where each bag has a distinct theme and even a nickname given to it! All bags are a 100% handmade, making each Zorar bag a one-of-a-kind creation. 


Q & A 


What is your life motto?

Lead a positive life despite the circumstances, and always nurture your creativity and use your talent to make people happy. 


How did it all start?

It all started by coincidence. I had a random collection of buttons of all shapes and sizes from my own wardrobe, and in a moment of inspiration, I designed and created a bag sprinkled with colorful buttons. Whenever I would carry it, people would stop me and ask me where I got it from. This gave me the idea to produce similar bags and other accessories and sell them under a label. In 2010, I launched Zorar, hich is Arabic for button, and from then on I started designing various models and experimenting with different design elements such as fabric, color, texture and line. 


How familiar do you consider yourself with manual artwork?

I have always enjoyed painting and making handcrafts. As a child I participated in many international drawing competitions and I still like doing DIY projects with my hands.

For Zorar, I had to teach myself how to use a sewing machine instead of depending on tailors and bag makers. Producing certain models required new skills which were not easy to learn, but I think I got a lot of practice after hand-sewing thousands of buttons!  


Why buttons?

An often overlooked and unassuming accessory, buttons come in infinite forms, sizes, and colors which allows for truly original ideas to be produced. They offer a high level of detailing that is so interesting to look at and can truly transform an outfit, a bag or a hair accessory.

The buttons I use for Zorar are made of metal, wood, glass, pearl, acrylic or bone, among others. They are imported from all over the world; Dubai, Egypt, Turkey, China and the USA.


What are the colors you tend to use?

Most of ZORAR bags have an off-white finish which acts as an ideal background to show the beauty of the buttons. I have made bags in scarlet red, mango yellow, kiwi green and fuchsia. A very popular color with my clients is electric blue. One very special bag to me is made in matt gold leather adorned with gold buttons on the front. I have yet to use bold colors such as turquoise, purple and burnt orange. 


What kind of texture do you mostly stick to?

Most of the bags are made with a special canvas fabric that I buy from old textile markets in Cairo. It comes in various textures and weaves, so I mix and match them to create different designs and looks.

Because of the unusual design of the bags, they require peculiar textures to complement the buttons. I also sometimes use cured leather and have recently introduced denim which also goes well with all kinds of buttons. The interior and lining of the bags is always made of fine satin.


When are you most inspired?

I get inspired most when I’m travelling. Living in Paris for six months during my student years has influenced my taste in fashion and style. I also like to browse the fabric and haberdashery shops in every new country I visit for local inspiration. 


What inspires you the most?

I get inspiration from my readings in several languages, and I’m often surprised how something so intangible such as literature can translate into a physical design of a bag or an earring.

I pay attention to light reflections, the sights and sounds of nature, photos, animations and even my old sketches. I also have a hobby of preserving flowers which inspires some of my floral patterns made with buttons. 


What are your future plans?

I will soon be launching a clothing line made of select one-off pieces using buttons as the main theme, in addition to an abaya line. I also look forward to launching Zorar in my home country Egypt and other parts of the Middle East.

I would like to extend the uniqueness of Zorar into something more than just wearable fashion. For example, introduce buttons in art, home ware and interior decoration.


Do you have any messages to Lifestyle readers?

Never underestimate a hobby that you like or a small item that brings beauty and joy. It can become your new job!