Nina Kharey, the talented designer behind Nonie, was thrilled to see her sleeveless trench dress on Meghan Markle earlier this year, but spent little time basking in her good fortune. Instead, Kharey got to work on the daringly minimalistic pieces which comprise her 2019 spring summer collection. Rather than focus on creating intense standalone pieces, Kharey produced garments which give the wearer the autonomy to make them their own.
Last Sunday, Sufi devotional music pulsed overhead in a warehouse on Washington Street as models glided down a runway, sporting clean pinks, whites, blacks, yellows, and reds. Mostly silks, Nonie’s newest looks are meant to both embody the calming chants of Sufi lyrics and remain timelessly uncomplicated. Sufism is a mystic sect of Islam, which focuses on a personal connection with God. Kharey particularly fixated on the work of Qawwali musician Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, whose music frequently overlays videos of Sufis spinning in a mesmerizing synchronized dance, an integral part of their faith.
The first-generation Canadian designer takes inspiration from what she calls “the Orient”, which appears to mean relaxed robe-like clothing that can be worn around the house or under a business blazer. It comes from Kharey’s understanding of her parents’ immigration from India in the 1970s, according to an interview with Hello! Magazine. In old photographs, Kharey’s mother is decked out in flowing bell-bottoms and oversized bows.
These nostalgic touches were present at the runway show last week. Silk gathered in bunches at the waist, and large bows and ties adorned many of the outfits. Nearly every outfit on display was monochromatic, and the standout half-pink, half-red dress still blended seamlessly with Kharey’s vision for chic timelessness.
Nonie launched in 2008 and has stuck with that simple but refined vision for the past decade, including in its manufacturing process. The label remains ethically developed in Canada, after its small beginnings at local boutiques in Kharey’s hometown, Calgary.
The designs this season were not overly revolutionary, and one can find similar styles in the business-wear section of most retail stores. But each dress, pant, or blouse presented last week lent itself to bold, clean lines and in an increasingly cluttered world, the light style of Nonie’s SS19 represented a break from the everyday visual chaos.