Tradition and progression, old and new: the UAE is a tale of two halves. And it's this contrast that has inspired Argentine designer Sofia Sanchez de Betak's latest collection.
Fashion design aside, Betak is a model, influencer and traveller, and takes to each of her roles with aplomb. Accordingly, her fashion label, Chufy, seem to be an amalgamation of all her skills and interests. "Each project I take on, whether it be design or planning a trip, is an opportunity for me to step outside of the box and create something different," she says. "Specifically when coming up with ideas for my Chufy line, I like to draw inspiration from the amazing life experiences that I've had and the captivating destinations I visit."
Her latest collection is inspired by the UAE and its vibrant culture, heritage and architecture. "Picking the UAE as the destination for this collection was such an exciting challenge for me," explains the designer. "While I've been to the UAE before, creating a collection that differentiated from my previous line pushed me to focus on different aspects of the heritage and the people."
Created in collaboration with The Luxury Collection, Chufy's new line follows on from the designer's Japan-inspired capsule collection released earlier this year. In particular, de Betak says she was inspired by the natural surroundings of Al Maha desert resort.
“The Luxury Collection’s hotels and resorts are such unique expressions of the locale, and I was thrilled to explore the UAE through the lens of these properties,” she says. “This is a country of unconventional architecture with many awe-inspiring and opulent buildings, and [the group] offers indigenous experiences that showcase the captivating contrast between desert and city experiences.”
The 54-piece collection, which features ready-to-wear and accessories, centres around the Arabian oryx, and combines earthy tones of lush greens, browns, oranges and reds with golden embroidery and rich silks. "All of the motifs in this collection centre around the UAE's heritage, including its wildlife, [in particular] its national animal, the oryx," de Betak explains. "I was so in awe of this amazing creature, and wanted to make it the main focus of the pieces. The stunning landscape of the UAE also plays a crucial role in the designs, and I want people to be able to see the amazing juxtaposition between the deserts and the complex architecture of the city.
“Ease and comfort are always at the core of my designs. People can expect to see similar silhouettes to what I’ve released before, but with a Middle Eastern twist. The shapes are a bit bigger, like desert caftans,” she adds.
Born in Buenos Aires, but now residing in New York with her fashion-show producer husband, Alexandre de Betak, she made a name for herself in the travel industry thanks to her Instagram page. But unlike so many other travel influencers, her pictures – mostly captured by her husband – are natural and unstaged, showcasing beautiful moments in off-the-radar places. Last year, luxury publisher Assouline released Travels with Chufy, an image-led coffee-table book.
The name Chufy, in case you were wondering, comes from the designer’s childhood. “Chufy is a nickname my family picked for me when I was little,” she explains. “There were so many Sofias in my class, we needed [a nickname for] each. The Chufy line also embodies that inner child in me – one who is always looking to explore and discover new cultures and ways of life.”
And the one place that has stayed with her? “The Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi is incredible,” she says. “The architecture is so inspiring, and it’s a place to find peace amid the craziness of the UAE. Dubai, and on a larger scale, the UAE, has solidified itself on the global map as a travel destination, yet it’s amazing to see how this country and culture remain deeply rooted in its rich history.”