I’m from France but I love living in Dubai – the essence of the Orient attracted me to Dubai 15 years ago and Middle Eastern lifestyle inspired me to bring fashion, culture and fashion education to the city’s existing cultural mix.
BEST OF BOTH WORLDS
My passions are economics and marketing, but I have an artist’s soul and I love art, and I’m lucky to come from a family of fashion designers. One of my earliest memories is of being in my mother’s fashion house in Lyon, seeing her working countless hours and late at night. She was known as one of the most elegant ladies in Lyon back in the 1970s.
FASHION ON THE FIELD
The most memorable fashion shows I’ve organised have been the fashion shows we’ve done for ESMOD Dubai. We always like to innovate in terms of show location and think out of the box – our last show was on a football field; it was gorgeous, and the crowd feedback was unanimous.
In 2004, I decided to propose to ESMOD International (the world’s first and oldest fashion design school) to open a branch in Dubai. It was a family decision – my daughter, Canella, was the [driving factor] of this decision as she wanted to pursue fashion studies but didn’t want to move back to France. She is now a fashion designer with her own brand – Canella Hostal Couture – and I’m so proud of our alumni, proud of my team and proud of what I have accomplished in a country where fashion education was once non-existent.
I created an oil-based perfume line in 2000 and was the first to introduce oud in France, way before all major perfume brands, who only did it 10 years later.
TUNES FOR MY TALE
Pink Floyd’s album Wish You Were Here would be the score to my life – all the tracks. However, Wight is Wight by Michel Delpech, a French singer, is the song that’s currently stuck in my head.
I crave fruit and I particularly like Greek food. Traditionally, French cooks – especially those from my hometown of Lyon, which is the centre of gastronomy – are very picky about food, so we cook a lot at home. When I do eat out, I prefer the local restaurants in Deira, Bur Dubai and Satwa that have a genuine local crowd and traditional food, over fancy restaurants in hotels, which I find overpriced and quite standard in terms of taste. Also, there’s too much chicken on their menus!
A WOMAN OF THE CLOTH
The last thing I splurged on was fabric. Wherever I travel, I always shop for fabric as a source of inspiration to then design and add unique pieces to my wardrobe. I can spend hours in fabric shops, which means I always end up with excess luggage.
If time and money weren’t an issue and I could travel to any destination, I’d take off and explore all of India. It is such a fascinating, multi-layered and incredibly exotic country.
Photography is one of my passions – it’s how I de-stress. This weekend I’m looking forward to finishing editing photos for a photography book I am about to publish. It will have pictures of Dubai from 1998 to the present day.
FREE TO BE ME
My freedom is my most cherished possession. It allows me to express myself in everything I do, say and think.
I sometimes go in the desert on weekends where I recharge and find inspiration for the coming week. I would have loved to spend a day getting to know the English explorer and travel writer Wilfred Thesiger, who crossed the desert by camel with Bedouin tribes, travelling all the way from Salalah to the Liwa Oasis and up to Abu Dhabi. There’s a quote by him that has truly affected the way I live and inspired me to cross the desert of East Africa with tribes, camels and caravans. ‘In the desert I had found a freedom unattainable in civilization; a life unhampered by possessions, since everything that was not a necessity was an encumbrance. I had found too, a comradeship inherent in the circumstances, and the belief that tranquility was to be found there.’
KEEP IT SIMPLE
My advice to women who want to add that impeccable sense of French style to any ensemble is simple: Never overdo it.
A GOOD VICE
I always go the extra mile to make people happy. I wish everyone had the same bad habit.