Sunday, December 26, 2010

Chic Maryam’s Visual Diary

Since launching her blog, Qatar-based Maryam Al-Malki, has used her site to forge new experiences in the fashion industry and build her career as a stylist. In an interview with The Polyglot, Maryam opens her scrapbook to reveal a year in fashion, while sharing her thoughts on blogging, promoting Qatari designers, and why it’s high time the Middle East had its own Vogue.

Have blogs made the fashion world more accessible to a wider audience?From my perspective, as a Qatari fashion blogger and stylist, I’ve always believed that fashion should be available to everyone. There is no reason to try so hard in order to access that world; everyone has a right to it.How important is fashion in our everyday lives, especially with everything that’s going on in the world?Some individuals may think of fashion as a shallow industry. Yet so much of our visual culture and what we wear, (even if you don’t consider yourself a fashion person), is driven by this multi-billion dollar industry. I always quote Diane von Furstenberg when she said: "We are living in such a troubled world that fashion seems completely irrelevant. Yet ... it's a very, very mysterious thing. Why all of a sudden do people like yellow? Why all of a sudden do people wear combat boots?"Any Qatari designers or talent we should know about?It’s been interesting to observe the fashion scene as it’s developed in Qatar over the last few years. People are now more aware of fashion, and it’s definitely become a lifestyle. There has also been a surge in talented fashion journalists, photographers and illustrators. On the design end, two labels that stand out are Toujouri by Lama El-Moatassem, who combines beautiful hand embroidery with modern designs, as well as Darz, Qatar's first luxury abaya house.
Do you think we are ready for a Vogue Middle East?Absolutely! Condé Nast rejected Vogue Arabia in 2007, but in the past three years the Middle East has experienced some major, major changes (fashion-wise). In this current context, it’s not hard to envision a Vogue for the region. We have the talent, the resources, the retailers, the designs, the photographers, the writers and stylists. In short the infrastructure is there, so why not?

How would you describe your own sense of style?As a stylist I tend to change and experiment a lot. Personally I love it when clothes have a Rock n Roll attitude to them, but with a twist. One of my favorite purchases of the year, were a pair of Yves Saint Laurent Mohawk Suede Pumps. I also like playing with accessories and oversized jewelry, which is something people notice about my look.

How diverse is the fashion scene in the Middle East?Every country in the Middle East has its special vibe when it comes to fashion. In Dubai, for example, you literally can find every brand, specially limited editions and products that are hard to come by in other parts of the region. Beirut, in contrast, is all about experiencing its vibrant street style and local designers. That’s what's so exciting about working in fashion in the Middle East, is that you have so much diversity.

Your most memorable fashion encounter?It was probably Diane von Furstenberg, whose store opening I attended in Dubai a few months ago. She’s a very inspiring person to talk too and luckily I got her to sign a copy of her book for me, which takes pride of place in my vast fashion library. She even mentioned meeting me in her online diary. I was very flattered and it was definitely a big fashion moment for me.What was your experience attending the Spring 2011 shows in Paris?What happens off the runway is just as interesting as the shows themselves. I remember waiting in line outside the Pavillion Alexandre III, to get into the Sonia Rykiel show, and just being amazed by the fashion circus around me. I snapped so many incredible pictures that day of people I’ve always admired, like Italian Vogue Editor Anna Piaggi and the stylist Catherine Baba. I even saw fellow Middle-Eastern blogger Tala Samman waiting in line. It goes to show that we do have a presence in the industry.

All Images Courtesy of Maryam Al-Malki

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