I met Bela Shehu almost ten years ago as a senior in high school when she owned and operated BSHEHU on 13th Street. It was more than just a place to spend my limited allowance on layaway purchases–I practically lived there for a time, when I wasn’t in school or at home. And occasionally, after closing time, I would skip over to the Ritz with Bela for some Veuve Clicquot–memorable moments for a seventeen-year-old city kid.
Though college made it difficult to stay in touch, I would run into Bela every now and then, and she would always be in the middle of some amazing project. At one point, Bela was designing a delicious activewear apparel line called Cocoon that transitioned seamlessly from studio to street (I still wish I had picked up a pair of her mesh insert leggings). At another, she was working as a production consultant behind the scenes for numerous brands, helping to develop spec sheets and patterns–technical aspects of the business with which many are unfamiliar.
NINOBrand is her latest endeavor, and I find it to be a perfect embodiment of Bela herself–edgy, sexy, and insouciant, all at once. We were shamefully overdue for some catching up, and so I stopped by a couple weeks ago to check out the atelier on 20th Street to play dress up. Here are some shots from the visit. Scroll down for the interview–it’s worth reading!
Schedule your appointment by September 12 to get $50 off your purchase of $200 or more when you mention ”meniemoda.”
333 S. 20th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Q&A with Bela Shehu
Where has life taken you since our last glass of Veuve at the Ritz? It feels like you’ve done so many things in the past few years!
Oh bubbly at the Ritz:) accompanied with fearless dreams and inflamed egos; yeah I remember that day.
The most amazing thing that has happened in these past few years has been the generous trust and compassionate bond that I’ve been developing with self. Every step of my personal and creative growth has been such a pleasure to experience. Being part of building the foundation of Commonwealth Proper was a rare privilege I thoroughly enjoyed. Designing and developing the Studio to Street line for Lithe Method has been a lot of fun too. Tamar Daniel, League 91, and Duke & Winston are some of the projects that have kept me excited the years.
How have you cultivated such a unique personal style? Who or what has influenced your aesthetic?
I try to give myself a fair chance to play with absolutely everything, every shape, texture, feel, and as of late even color. If I’m paying attention, the experiment or parts of it will clearly talk to me. I keep the elements I connect with, part with what is not working and apply my own application to the design that births from the exercise. Edith Head’s low key style has inspired me from time to time.
What’s your day-to-day dressing philosophy?
Getting dressed is an extension of communication, so the daily experience varies every day.
What’s your favorite NINO Brand piece of all time?
These harem pants I made in the beginning of the year. They continue to satisfy me with the different moods they take on and exhibit.
How about from your newest collection?
I like a lot of styles from the new collection. Newness always keeps me giddy with excitement. The new pieces carry functionality, comfort, intelligence and a sense of athleticism; characteristics I’ve been adoring lately.
If you could be reincarnated into any living being, what would it be and why?
I would come back as human again – still trying to get it right.
Hope you enjoyed!