ESMOD Dubai Runway

Last night a new generation of ESMOD graduates presented the glamorous outcome of their three years of dedication to the non-glamorous side of vogue: stitching, sewing, pattern drafting, scaling and other elements often left behind the curtain. A long journey through the ins and outs of the fashion industry was visualized in a collection individually produced by each emerging designer from concept to runway. With 22 branches worldwide, ESMOD is a French Fashion Institute and a top school for design and pattern makers.

Previously set at Wafi luxury shopping mall, this year’s new venue was in contrast with local trends and unexpectedly edgy. The runway curved between wooden benches fixed on an artificial field lit by industrial lamps. At the beginning ceiling high posters created the illusion of cheering crowds. The whole space was protected by wires, fences and netting, adding a touch of a street underground culture to the upcoming event.

Backstage (I used my charming powers to sneak in) things seemed to be under control. Kid models with iPads reading The Economist (see photos below), graduating makeup artists kept busy bronzing pretty faces (including mine), and designers keeping surprisingly chilled. I managed to startle a person or two with a random flash but in general we (me + my camera) were invisible to most.

I was pulled aside by Ohoud, a graduating student of ESMOD, who applied layer after layer of magical beauty products to help me look like a true Instagram Star. Half an hour later I was transformed 🙂

Dressed by Canella in Canella Hostal Couture, a 2-piece outfit with a focus on a beautiful Geveva handmade skirt, I got surrounded by photographers who demanded me to turn, walk, sit, smile and deliver pose after a pose.

Pushed in a fancy corner, I complied.

Back at the venue, hundreds of guests including family, friends, bloggers, alumni, models, influencers, hipsters, fashionistas and other stylish Dubaians were greeted by the founders of ESMOD and stalked by me. Craving inspiration (and dinner), I scouted eye-catching pieces and people with camera in hand.

It was a whistle paired with witty comments from L. Redman that started the show. As I had never met any designers it was easy to be absolutely neutral focusing on music, fabrics, accessories, footwear, creativity, art work, etc., rather than personalities. Towards the end however I narrowed my “OMG” list to one designer and my “I want it now” list to two.

Knowing the amount of hard work every designer had invested in their first collection, it was unsurprising to see emotions on the runway. I was laughing, sobbing, clapping and snapping through the show wondering how impossible would it be to select a winner.

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Unsurprising the producer of Vancouver Fashion week, Jamal Abdourahman, chose three winners instead of one to showcase their collection during Vancouver Fashion week in September. As they say, “Winner takes all”. Congratulations!

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Feel Ibiza, breath Dubai

Close your eyes and visualise a place where sand whispers stories of eternal happiness and blue is the warmest colour. Picture white chaise lounges, vibrant umbrellas, sun-kissed hair, boaty-boats and a glorious Mediterranean tan ruined slightly by fancy swimwear. Add a fabulous soft beat and oh boy, you are in Ibiza.

Open your eyes and you are here in the financial heart of the dazzling Dubai, sipping rosé at La Cantine du Faubourg.

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Impossible, you say? Well, not quite! Look closely at the photograph…

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The mesmerizing piece is the work of a Frenchman, passionate photographer Stephane Dessaint. Born and raised in Paris (I wonder if he loved to hang out at Montmartre) Stephane also lived in LA and New York where he was involved in the emerging fashion industry. Several years later, at his recent vernissage in Dubai, Stephane was introduced to me as the artist and photographer behind the limited edition “Ibiza Feelings” collection. My first impression however was: “Boy, he knows how to dress”.

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Charmed by his style I was the hundredth person at La Cantine to ask the same question: “What’s your secret?”, unintentionally narrowing his work to a photography trick. To my surprise Stephane took my inquiry with the full seriousness a serious artist can only afford and whispered back technicalities related to his usual day at a shoot. Geared up with a camera, Stephane would patiently wait for the “l’heur du Zenith” when the angle of the sun leaves no shadows on the ground giving seawater additional sparkle and deep blue colour (apparently his favorite).

Warning: Please consider the image below as rather inaccurate as I don’t recall being the only person who talked 🙂

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Stephane Dessaint’s work will be displayed at La Cantine de Faubourg for another couple of months. Please stop by to witness the charming vibes of Mediterranean summer and photographs that tell stories.

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Be your own stylist with Valenxe

Once upon a time on a late night train from France to Germany, two beautiful girls dreamed up a perfect wardrobe staple for all occasions all around the world. Joined by a third fashionista they designed a pair of truly desirable and versatile leggings with a slimming effect. That’s how Valenxe, the “intrinsic attractiveness” was born. Being hard to impress, I decided to sneak three pairs of Valenxe leggings into Dubai and put these babies to an ultimate style trial, breaking all possible fashion rules in between.

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Look One: Trophy Girl

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It was a sunny January Friday in Dubai, the perfect day to brunch, pool around and show off that hard to get beach body (did you try my insane workout?). So I grabbed my “la vie en rose” shades, a silky shiny tunic by Parker NYAntilla crop leggings in dream navy, and headed to the family friendly Waldorf Hotel on the Palm. Cropped leggings is a challenge to wear well. For me. I visually extend the look of my legs by balancing shorter leggings with either flats or sneakers. Voila:

Look 2: Nasty Woman

They say show me your friends and I’ll tell you who you are. Woah-oh-oh-ah-ah-ah! Hanging out with these three unbreakable style gAnnstars: no.1, no.2 and no. 3 led to irreversible changes in my attitude. Armed with a truly Canadian maple syrup candy, a tee with me boyz Beavis and Butthead, I pulled on the leather-like Aspasia leggings in black and rolled away. Do mind the cool hat (this is Rella)

Look 3: Lady in Red

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When the time came to dress for a challenging shopping afternoon with a fellow fashion-addict, I opted for a bright red tight dress, Versace scarf and Bollea leggings in bella fiora brown. Not only did I have a fun time strolling down the new “must-see” district in Dubai, but found a solid number of followers thinking I was a celebrity in disguise.

Look 4: Walkaholic

It’s that time of the year in the UAE when the anticipation of rain is almost as enjoyable as the rain itself. Layered in Aritzia wool jacket and protected by a powerful red umbrella, I felt like Mary Poppins on a mission. Surprisingly my black  Aspasia leggings pulled off a classy as well as edgy look, making my lower body look “gym every day” thinner.

Look 5: Trouble Maker

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Inspired by the adventures of Indiana Jones, I decided to initiate my own treasure hunt and drove all the way to the capital, glorious Abu Dhabi. Dressed in a vintage cotton shirt from Austria, breathable Japanese sneakers, sweet Italian shades and Canadian leggings I was proud to communicate the spirit of a true globetrotter. I did discover a hidden Arabian quarter overlooking the blue water of a little creek and called my trip a total success!

Loved Valenxe – shop’em here! Stalk me on Instagram and Facebook

Update: While on a different style mission, I spotted another Dubai girl rocking Valenxe leggings. I think she wore them better than me! What do you think?

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El and An #LastExitDubai

Beside the thrill of extreme driving and promise of a great night out, there is a new exciting reason to take a road trip from Abu Dhabi to Dubai. Food Truck Park! Just cross the nonexistent border between the emirates on E11 to dig in to a selection of street food, cool folks and eye popping design.

The only one of its kind in the Gulf,  Food Truck Park offers both drive through and dine-in options for foodies on the go, making it a must visit playground for kids and older. Well, I couldn’t resist! Could you?

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Together with my edgy style gangsta El in her sequence black hat by Rella paired with golden slate stone & wood shades from Propwood, we were ready to party.

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Overwhelmed by the number of choices including Chicks and Friends, Clinton Baking Company, The Brass, Poco Loco and My Karak (among others), we seriously considered Starbucks to reward their support of bloggers worldwide with free Wi-Fi and facilities. Decisions, decisions, decisions…

Once I tricked El in trading her beanie for my awesome Dark Knight Snapback made of shiny black leather from the Nylon Shop, it was the right style moment to review the old school public dialing experience. Meanwhile my 6Plus was peacefully boosting its battery at phone charging station right around the corner.

Then a random brilliant idea entered my hungry mind (oh, boy). To determine who’s gonna pay for dinner, we engaged in a winner take all game of style. Best look rules!

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El moved quickly and with confidence knowing that except cats, nothing beats the “hot girl and a car” scene.

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Being a big fan of emerging brands and hipster-friendly designers, I was pretty happy in my “go back to black” outfit that contrasted with vivid industrial design and urban sand.

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Details from the head to toes: black wool beanie by Rella, Propwood shades, silky long-sleeved shirt under a golden see-through top by Trina Turk, track pants with leather elements by Alice & Olivia and super comfortable Sperry sneakers.

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Frankly, it didn’t take El long to prove that timeless “lady in red” conquers hearts in seconds.

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Dinner is on me, girl!

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What’s Dubai wearing #RedCarpet, #WDWD, #DIFF2106

There’s a deep emotional connection between the two industries that produce dreams: fashion and cinematography. One appeared spontaniously in a previous millennia, probably when a cave teenager refused to wear a hat to be different, the other – invented during a series of scientific experiments in motion picture photography. Yves Saint Lauren said “Les modes passent, le style est eternal…”. The same can be said of film vs. cinema, as even the oldest Brothers Lumieres cinematography is a form of immortal art. Surprisingly though the Dubai Film Festival’s style and red carpet often drew more attention than the screenings.

Divided by four popular fashion choices, tailored gowns, “mix and match” tuxedos, fantasy outfits and traditional fusion, guests and participants united in looking effortlessly glamorous guided by dress-codes, personal taste and the work of designers. I couldn’t take my eyes off fabulous Tuba Buyukustun, a female actor from Turkey, who in her dreamy long gowns created an Art Deco illusion.

Initially spotted in a crowd of admirers, it took me a day to build the confidence to approach Eileen Level. With a straightforward mission to photograph Eileen in her incredible hat, I ended up admiring her perfectly shaped face, charismatic sense of fashion and spontaneous jokes. Come back to Dubai, girl!

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Forever-young brunette Andie MacDowell made two quite remarkable appearances during DIFF 2016. Dressed in a tailored beige trouser suit, she delivered a sharp yet very personable masterclass to a demanding audience of international media reps. Later that evening, perfect in every detail, Andie was dazzling with confidence in a dark blue sequin gown at the Global Gala.

A girl who created waves and sighs of admiration from “seen it all” red carpet pool photographers and critics alike was Jordan-based influencer Hiba Assad. Being a stunning beauty she wore an exceptional black dress with a leather like corsage and flirty skirt by Dania Dahleh.

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My own astonishing fashion crush of the year occurred when mega popular Bollywood actor Ranveer Singh stepped onto the Red Carpet looking magical in a dark violet cape on top of a 3-piece earthy suit paired with gorgeous hair and a noble mustache. For the next couple of days I ran into him striking poses in completely unrecognizable looks that could be described varyingly as edgy, fancy, hipster, posh and even conservative. Wish I was quick enough to steal his stylist’s number. See for yourself!

Glowing with happiness and timeless beauty, Shirina Fotuhi, a creative mind behind Coega sunwear marketing was in high demand at Harpers Bazaar best dressed lounge. Rushing to the premier of “Rogue One: Star Wars story”, she looked fabulously daring in her “Happy Sithmas” shirt paired with tight leggings, denim jacket from Maison Clad and stilettos.

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My choice for most entertaining Red Carpet appearance would go to English actor Bill Nighy. Striking pose after pose in his sharp dark navy suit (no tie), Bill found time for every photographer in the pool, boosting energy and encouraging bursts of laughter. His speech at “Their Finest” premier alone deserved a big shiny trophy and standing applause.

Emirati photographer Ismail Hemaid looked fantastic in a traditional dishdash empowered with enthusiasm, professionalism and a great sense of humor. Can you tell he has been working loooong hours?

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Attending DIFF 2016 has demonstrated once again the importance of attracting individuals from all over the world, who inspire, provoke debates, mentor, express and create dreams. Both cinematography and fashion are charisma driven industries and watching them in action is a lot of fun! Cheers to the great people who shape the style of entertainment:

The Siren dress by Kris Jane, an emerging designer with an artistic touch brought me luck, fame  and most importantly new followers (hooray!).

 

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This is Rella, the perfect companion

Fashion like the change of seasons comes and goes, but your personality stays no matter what. Style is forever too. Encrypted in DNA it molecularly copies your attitude because we, the individuals are born this way! So once the weather starts falling apart and the survival instinct prevails common sense, I hit back with the right accessories. This is Rella!

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From the heart of Canadian Rockies Rella has expanded it reach by opening offices in cosmopolitan cities of Montreal and Stockholm (c’est vrai!) becoming a four-season brand. Driven on passion, Rella communicates warmth and comfort by transforming traditional knits into sought after elements of super hip outfits.

Described as edgy, fun, vibrant, cute, classy, comfy, awesome (you name it!), Rella’s collection balances good fit, high functionality and eternal style. These babies are made to be enjoyed! Look, my grey beanie is lined with soft woolen fabric (shield) for extra warmth and topped up with “can’t take my eyes off” pompom. Sharpen your look with Betto scarf and explore tons of hot opportunities to wear it (I warn you, there are many!).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARella is designed to be a perfect companion to enjoy outdoors in the most adventurous manner. Expect unexpectable every time you put it on!

Remember there is no bad weather, just the boring company… Rella is always ready to rescue, keep you warm and keep you going!

A big special thanks to adventure driven stylist Domenic Iannuzi and picture driven photographer Tom Trestain for your help!

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Toronto’s Style gAnngstars

This October Toronto is the most delightful place to hang out (in Canada at least!). While it snowed in Alberta and elsewhere across the country, the weather has been at it’s best behavior in this breezy city treating everyone and everything to incredibly warm afternoons. Day after day the sun made it’s reappearance to reflect a perfect turquoise blue sky in the million glass windows of the downtown high-rises. Meanwhile the trees were changing colors like determined bloggers loosen up their haute couture outfits during fashion week.

Loaded with the unexpected overdose of Vitamin D, the local street style has flourished with eye-catching accessories, soon to be forgotten summer staples (think mini-shorts), natural fabrics and occasional layers carried in a moment of weakness to potentially compensate for the wind of change from Antarctica.

So I wasted no time and immediately WhatsApp’ed two most heroic fashion gangstars who negotiate food but never style. Together we connected what Toronto is loved for, emerging urbanism with self-expression.

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You can always define the true big city girl by her shoes. She is independent, beautiful, confident and quick. She knows what she wants and where she wants to be. She is in rational snappy sneakers that would accelerate her potential and get her going. I caught up with Dana at Trinity Bellwoods Park, a place with many hidden gems and three-dimensional friendly beasts.

PA163272.JPGWalking Queen St. W., I cursed my choice of ballerina flats for this fashion expedition as my delicate feet echoed with pain at every tiny stone. I could barely keep up with Dana diving in and out of mysterious looking stores. So I used my old trick of pulling out the camera to stop for a quick “strike a pose” moment and charmed Dana into sharing her secret of being on the best dressed page with the minimum effort and investment. As it turns out, the recurring trend in Toronto street style at any season or on any occasion is based on emotions and love.

Torontonians are passionate about the Blue Jays (Toronto’s baseball team) and they are not shy to express it. Jay’s hats, created in combination of red, blue, gold, black and white colours add a touch of naughtiness to any outfit, instantly developing into a fashion statement that drives attention. I’m totally shopping for one (well, it’s never one, believe me!). I also need to find a way to sort my hair around it or get it in the tiniest size to outshine that cool girl on the left.

One of the most romantic views of Toronto is from the roof top bar at the Park Hyatt. Shorts paired with Hawaiian tee looked rather extravagant in the middle of October and with no questions asked and with no arms raised they confidently passed for a smart casual. Meet Jesper, a fearless super fit traveller, who is rounding a latest stretch of his tour de monde.

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After a couple of fancy cocktails (tailored to my vicious desires), we were absolutely charmed by the elegance of the city winking at us in the sunshine. I demanded a change of decorations, so we headed out to the Kensington Market or “Hipster’s Paradise” in the search for the dodgiest outfit of the day.

Dressed as a “nasty woman” in black suede boots with shiny silver zips, military cut coat and mini grey woolen dress, I radiated pure awesomeness. Jesper in torn denim, keds and explorer’s windbreaker was completely immersed into surroundings, hiding his true identity behind “Top Gun” shades. It was only a matter of minutes before we started attracting some unusual waves of attention from locals and tourists (blame our pretty faces) forcing us to look for shelter. So a trip to the Lakefront seemed to be an easy escape.

Queen’s Quays is the best place for people and seagull watching and for being watched (plus a nice view of the lake). The Lakefront attracts fashionistas and crazies (in its best meaning) from all over the world, who peacefully co-exist and co-inspire. The Lakefront is also a home to the Power Plant contemporary art gallery, a busy local brewery with the tables always taken but free seats around the bar, and Canadian vintage trains that one shouldn’t climb.

The October Fashion experience in Toronto is incomplete without a photo of the CN Tower, ideally with yourself on it and some serious showing-off (don’t forget to empty pockets prior to attempting).

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P.S. Stalk Dana through her blog or Instagram and Jesper over here. Keep up with me on Instagram and Facebook. Happy styling!