by Gemma White
  • 4 minute read
  • July 10, 2024
How Fatima Alyaquby created her own high-heritage handbag line Deïne

It’s fitting that pearls can take up to four years to form in the cocoon of an oyster, because so too do Fatima Alyaquby’s pearl diving-inspired handbags. They eschew the frenetic pace of fast fashion in favour of luxuriating in the heritage that’s made them an instant classic.

There’s no doubt you’ve seen the Bahraini-born designer’s Deïne bags. Instantly recognisable (and endlessly Instagrammable) thanks to their signature loop handles, they hang off the arms of the stylishly au courant in an array of hues, from classic creams to colour pops and jewel tones.

“Deïne is the woven basket pearl divers wore around their necks in which to collect the oysters from the seabed,” Fatima explains. “Life in the region was once centred around the trade and I wanted to portray this heritage in preservation. The first design I made had the circular loop handle inspired by the rope attached to the basket.”

The loop of luxury. Image: Supplied

Having created her first bag at the age of eight, consisting of flower petals stitched to an array of fabrics, Abu-Dhabi-based Fatima’s later appreciation of luxury brands came with a niggling feeling that she and women like her were being underserved on a cultural level by internationally made leather goods that didn’t say something.

“I wanted to create something related to us culturally in a luxury item,” she says. “I wanted my pieces to be meaningful – not just to create another handbag, but to have a story behind it. So that’s the path I chose.”

Another path she chose, one whose importance cannot be understated for creative types heading into the competitive e-commerce field, was business school. After completing her fine arts foundation in fashion design at the Royal University for Women in Bahrain, Fatima switched to a business marketing bachelor’s degree at the New York Institute of Technology, balancing her creative side with commercial acumen.

“It helped me learn to put together the basic process of design, research and how to set about starting a collection; all the steps you take in order to realise your ideas,” she says.

Hungry to learn more and keen to further her skillset, she left Bahrain for the global fashion hub of London to enrol in a pattern-making course at the British city’s famed University of the Arts. 

“That was really interesting,” she enthuses. “I learned a lot about the process of designing handbags as well as the technical side. I did a lot of research about how you put together ideas – what works and what doesn’t.”

Deïne bags are inspired by Arabian heritage. Image: Supplied

Upon her return, Fatima established Deïne and started designing in 2019. And then in 2020, the pandemic struck. “That was challenging,” she understates. But she decided to push ahead with her business even during that uncertain time: “I took a leap of faith and I’m glad I did.”

Her first collection was released in 2021. With a core ethos of sustainability, timelessness, cultural cachet and, of course, luxury, Deïne quickly cultivated a dedicated fanbase of women whose style and values aligned with what Fatima was creating.

“I don’t like brands which scream,” she says. “I prefer quiet elegance, the celebration of the design itself. I also wanted my bags to be different to the typical handbags you see every day. More lightweight, without the hardware and buckles that make modern bags so heavy to carry.”

Fatima’s artisanal approach – immersing herself in every step of design development, releasing small-batch collections – allows meaning to seep through every part of the process.

“I’m inspired by culture and heritage,” she says. “And while I want this be at the forefront in an obvious way, I still want the bags to be seen as a luxury item, one that’s designed to have symbolic meaning and detail, however subtle. In this way, you can read the story behind it yourself.”

Each Deïne piece is handcrafted. Image: Supplied

When she’s not in the atelier dreaming up future collections or immersed in the kind of fun family chaos that comes from having three young sons, Fatima is to be found on the Padel court or partaking in anything outdoorsy, such as heading to the beach or gardening, of which she ruefully admits: “I’m not so good, but I’m trying to learn.”

As befitting a creative, travel and the widening of personal horizons play an important role in her life. “When I travel, I love visiting historical estates and museums,” she smiles. “I’ll always find a local antique market to find items to bring home. It’s so inspiring to see how things were made in the past.”

With her bags available online or in special edition pop-ups across the Emirates, a range of small leather goods, accessories and lifestyle products lies somewhere in the future, but for now, that’s all hush-hush, the muse must not be hurried. “There were moments of doubt spent wondering whether I should go ahead with the brand or not,” she says. “I remember the first days of sketching in my book and wondering if any of this would work. Now, I look back and realise how much I’d have missed out had I not taken a leap of faith. Every step forward, no matter how intimidating, led to me embracing this journey.”

Visit and follow @deineofficial on Instagram. 

Next In