The Pride of Azerbaijan: Interview With Gunel Babayeva

Pride of Azerbaijan

She’s an artisan for unparalleled designs. She’s a sculptor for silhouettes. She’s a painter of floral, bejeweled hues. She’s a maestro for melodic serenity and a theoretician for fearless self-expression, embedded in the art of poetry that unearths untold fairytales to life. Revered for her perennial, luxuriant pieces that radiate empowerment and sheer beauty, Gunel Babayeva is one such designer who can create anything, solely from her impeccable vision alone. Having impressed her native country, Azerbaijan, with her awe-inspiring designs that always have a timeless story to tell, it’s no wonder why she’s dubbed the ‘Pride of Azerbaijan.’ As a wife and a mother of two beautiful, young daughters, Gunel has molded upon a prolific background of educational and professional excellence in the fields of economics and finance to become what she is now- a worldwide renowned couturier and fashion dynamo.

In a society where a creator’s mind is often questioned when it comes to expressing their imagination, they often find themselves being forced to conform to certain modes of innovation, that don’t necessarily complement their ideas.

Knowing that the fashion industry is ever-evolving, nowhere in the rule book does it say that we cannot color outside the lines. And Sophie Couture is the ideal example of this notion, including Gunel Babayeva, who keeps churning out one bestselling design after the other, which would make any viewer instantly into a wearer.

Featuring a versatile mix of bold femininity and the concept of light meeting darkness and elegance imbued within the realms of Haute expression, Gunel’s work, and talent not only visually magnetizes the pictorials of fashion but also unravel the deeper reservoirs of her masterful imagination. With her signature style of creating trailblazing pieces that are woven out of rich fabrics, intricately designed embroidery, pearls, rhinestones, and silk threads, Gunel surely built an empire of her own.

The sheer brilliance that Gunel Babayeva’s brand possesses is limitless, as every synonym associated with the word ‘creativity’, acts as Gunel’s maids of service. There are no boundaries to what she transcends that is astonishingly electrifying and what her couture brand produces. Gunel’s designs are meant to not only make avalanches of heads turn but introduce a dynamic story that stays with you for eternity and transforms every eloquent dream into a refined reality.

Here’s your free pass to escape into the spectacular, borderless realms of Gunel Babayeva’s Sophie Couture: The Pride of Azerbaijan.

1. Hi Sophie! It’s such a pleasure to have you featured in our magazine! Before we get down to it, I want to start off with a slightly fun question: what is it about bringing an imaginative concept to life…that you look forward to?
Ans. I’ve always enjoyed sketching and coming up with creative ideas, both of which I did exceptionally well in. Since I was young, I’ve been interested in fashion and design. My grandmother taught me how to sew when I was a small kid; she loved to sew and was a master at it. I was astounded by the amount of work put in and the process involved in transforming an idea into a full-fledged design. As for designing my dresses, I go way back to my memories of when I drew designs for my dolls, but now I have the opportunity to create dresses for red carpets. As an artist, I feel most at ease working on evening dresses, as I have more opportunities to bring my ideas to life.

2. I had the pleasure to visit your website and you seem to be wearing a lot of creative hats. With an established background in economics and finance… How did the transition from finance to couture fashion take place?
Ans. As you can see, I have always been creative and my passion for fashion dates back to my early childhood. However, since I lived in a country where one must look for more steady jobs and I was good with numbers, a career in finance seemed like a logical choice. However, my calling for fashion ended up becoming stronger, so I decided to start my business with the quote “now or never” by taking advantage of maternity leave.

Q.3 It isn’t easy when it comes to switching careers, but you seem to have triumphed over all of life’s challenges. However, did you at some point feel like giving up when you thought that things weren’t working out in your favor?
Ans. Every business encounters situations where crisis management is involved, but the most important thing is how you handle them. My husband approached me and suggested that I quit and go back to my previous job due to the lack of sales in one of the cases that I most vividly recall. I promised him I would return to finance if my new collection didn’t do well, but it was actually the collection that gave Sophie Couture the boost it needed to become the brand you see on celebrities today.

Q.4 What would you say…was your big break, once Sophie Couture made its mark in the fashion world? What were you feeling at that moment?
Ans. Cannes had become a turning point for Sophie Couture when more renowned celebrities and fashion designers discovered our company. Even in this time of success, when people from all over the world showed interest in our brand, I was already setting myself new goals, and new objectives and planning the next move.

Q.5 If there’s one thing that your designs possess…it’s the art of being feminine and versatile. What are some of your favorite materials that you enjoy working with?
Ans. We use only Italian and French fabrics of the highest quality. Among our customers, there are also large stores that require high-quality fabrics that have passed the examination. I love hand embroidery, structured fabrics, and those that fit easily into certain styles. It is difficult to single out one thing. But, to answer your question, I like playing around with various fabrics to see how it will look in one style or another.

Q.6 How would you describe the aesthetics of Sophie Couture?
Ans. The aesthetics of Sophie Couture are to show the entire world, how strong and independent women are. Women are quite intriguing; it takes time to fully grasp their essence because external looks can be very deceptive. We wish to highlight this feature through our design. It may be a straightforward white dress with a little neckline and lace cuffs that, at first glance, appears to reflect the woman herself—carefree, breezy, and dreamy. But this is not completely accurate. You may notice a reasonably independent, robust woman with a strong inner core in this clothing. The same can be said for dresses that are more colorful, extravagant, or elegant. There will be subtle elements on it that emphasize how a woman may be very strong, while yet being very kind, even if it may seem strong and powerful.

Q.7 As a designer, how would you define your role in both: society and fashion? What is that USP your brand has that no other brand possesses?
Ans. There are three factors that are the key justifications for why they picked us above other couture houses. The first is that the quality of our couture gowns is comparable with other brands. The second is that we maintain pricing at a level that allows individuals to purchase our dresses for multiple occasions. The style of our gowns is the final factor, and even after five to ten years, people still can wear them.

Q.8 How do your Azerbaijani roots influence and inspire your designs?
Ans. Our culture has developed in me a vision of fashion as a mixture of the east and west. The style of our dresses combines the European spirit and oriental motifs. I am an Azerbaijani, and our culture, a mixture of West and East, flows in me with Azerbaijani blood. This is very much reflected in my dresses. They are neither fully embroidered and shiny in an oriental way nor dull and simple in a western way. Even simplified, they always have an oriental twist; and if they are embroidered, then in a European restrained way.

Q.9 The beauty of any creative venture, is when an idea transcends into a reality. That being said…what would your advice be to the next generation of designers, who aim to make a name for themselves in fashion… just like you have?
Ans. No matter how cliché it seems, I would like to tell beginner designers to have confidence in themselves. Everyone experiences periods when they believe nothing will go their way, everything they create is terrible, or nobody would want to wear it. It’s critical to keep in mind that you can only defeat negative beliefs by believing in yourself.

Q.10 Are there any collections or designs you are working on and would like to share with us? Or would you want to surprise us?
Ans. I want to surprise you, so be sure to follow our Instagram page!



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