Feb 22, 2013

Blue Brush Hair Studio: Bringing Parisian Hair and Beauty to Doha

I was delighted when I found out that an old college friend of mine, Sheikha Muneera Saoud Al Thani, had teamed up with a renowned Parisian hair stylist to open up her first very own hair studio here in Doha, at Hilton Hotel.

Blue Brush Hair Studio is the name of the hair studio which is bringing a level of hair styling, hair care and makeup at Paris Fashion Week standard. And the hair stylists at the studio previously worked at Paris Fashion Week.

At the helm of the studio is manager David Martinez, one of the most highly recognized hair stylists in the international beauty and fashion industry. With fifteen years under his belt, David has worked with big fashion magazines like Vogue, Harper's Bazaar and Vanity Fair, and in big fashion shows for the likes of Dior, Lanvin, Louis Vuitton and Chloe.

The Blue Brush Hair Studio experience is akin to that of a high-end Parisian hair studio.

We all love a mood board!

I was lucky enough to get the chance to interview David, who by the way is super sweet:

How did you find your way from Paris to Doha?
David: The Middle East has been a great opportunity. I came to Doha some years ago and met Sheikha Muneera Al Thani by chance. She has, as a lot of Qatari women, a very sharp and clever idea of beauty. I knew from the beginning that we could build something great and really new here.
My story is like a fairytale and Doha is the cherry on top of the cake!
I grew up in a small city in south France and one day I decided that I wanted to move to the BIG world of fashion and without any real reason but just because I felt it, I just made it…  I was 19. I worked in Paris for the past fifteen years in the highest fashion circles and after all this I felt it was time for me to explore something else and move again. Life is a circle isn't it? There is a huge difference between working in Europe on models and styling real women in real life. I used to be my own boss, the only eye, the one that could decide everything that I wanted on a woman's hair; now it is absolutely different. The only boss, the eye, is the woman I'm going to style. Now my biggest challenge is to enter a woman's head, to understand her personality, her wish and to help her get the best style according to who she is or who she decided she wants to be. This new part of my work is much more human and personal. I love people, I love to share and I know how much happiness I can give with my scissors. That's the interesting part.

When it comes to the hair and beauty industry, what do you think Doha lacks?
David: I feel sometimes Doha misses a little bit of exigency. In terms of beauty, there are quite good technicians, but sometimes you need more than technique; you need a vision and a sharp eye. Doha can lack subtlety. Things can look quite old fashioned if you don't find the right balance. You can't always have a giant up-do with very heavy makeup for instance…We will always try to balance things according to your style.

What do you think you and your team can bring to Doha?
David: Our will is to bring some freshness, some craziness and some real fashion to women in Qatar. At Blue Brush we all come from the fashion industry and that makes a huge difference. It is vital to stay tuned and keep the team and myself in the move and the mood. We will always continue to go to Paris, London and Milan for major fashion events. The Blue Brush team needs to be cutting edge and technically always on top; we always need to learn and the best is to be in the heart of the business.

The delightful David Martinez...

...and his blue brush

What do you think of the women's sense of style and beauty here in Qatar and the Middle East?
David: Women in Qatar are very exigent. They travel a lot and are used to high standards; they also have a wide beauty background, they know icons and styles. Beauty is very focused. I think hair and makeup are essential, maybe also because they wear abayas so all the focus can be on the face, the eyes, the perfect skin. They have "allure," they are mysterious, have deep looks, and are very feminine. I find them always very elegant and subtle.

What are the services and features offered at Blue Brush Hair Studio that clients won't find anywhere else?
David: My dry cut. I’m absolutely addicted to dry cut, and all the women I’ve know in my life that have tried it once would never go back to the "traditional haircut." Jean Marc Maniatis is one of the French Masters of dry cut; I learnt it from him in Paris when I was starting my career. When I saw the first dry cut I fell in love with this technique. It is not very known and developed yet because it requires several years of practice and it is not an easy technique but it has BIG advantages.
First of all, hair is elastic, if you wet it and pull it, hair is going to stretch, so when it gets dry again it is going to get its natural movement and you will very often get bad surprises with a wet cut. Cutting on dry hair is working with the real length, the natural movement and the specific texture of the hair, no more bad surprises. You can style your haircut without my help at home! Hair will grow with its natural shape; you can enjoy your cut for longer than a classical wet haircut. Self-styling becomes easier; you basically don't even need it because I will work according to the logical nature and specificity of your hair. It has more freedom, safety and style.

What options do you offer for women who wear the hijab, like me?
David: Qatari women love to have healthy hair. They use a lot of product and are always looking for the most natural and efficient hair care. We have a specific hair clinic that provides deep treatments for each hair nature. We also learned with time that Qatari ladies often go to big events like weddings, so we provide hairstyles for all tastes and wishes, from the most simple but perfect blowout, to the most technical fashion up-do.
I have also noticed that Qatari women are very sophisticated with makeup. It is really an art here. Our makeup artist, Alexandra Rouger, comes straight from Paris Fashion Week; she is one of the most recognized makeup artists in the industry. If you try her you will become a big fan for sure. She also works as a nail artist, so if you look for something really special, she is the one. If you wear the hijab my hairstylist Souad will take care of you. She’s really good and is also a colour and care specialist . She worked in Innovation for L'Oreal for three years before she came to Doha with me.

For more information on Blue Brush Hair Studio check out the website. For more information on David's work, check out his website.

Feb 6, 2013

Abayat Hera: Bringing Stylish Abayas to the KSA

I've noticed time and time again that when it comes to abaya designers, some of the brightest and most talented started off designing abayas for themselves and their friends and families, out of the frustration of a lack of abayas that suited their own tastes, and word would spread about their talent for designing and creating beautiful abayas. This was the case for Palestinian-born abaya designer, and journalist by day, Shahera Khader, who recently launched her own abaya line, "Abayat Hera."
 Born and brought up in Saudi Arabia, Shahera was herself an abaya wearer, and tired of the "stereotypical abayas" that were on offer, she decided to make a change and channel her passion for fashion through designing and making stylish and on-trend abayas. Having lived in Saudi Arabia for so long, Shahera has a good idea of what women in the Gulf want when it comes to their abayas. 
"Living in Saudi most of my life I have always felt that the trends were always late to come to the Kingdom," explains Shahera, "I wanted my abayas to be unique in that they gave women a chance to experience fashion first hand. The abaya has always been a black potato bag that we are forced to wear. They all look much the same and have little to do with the world of fashion. Now, abayas can make a statement of identity, and trend. I incorporated the styles that were "in" to my abayas."
Shahera's first collection, which was launched six months ago and titled "Harir Al Malaka" (Arabic for "the silk of queens") was a series of abayas made with organza silk and embellished with glamorous pearls, sparkling Swarovski crystals and edgy spikes. Her intention was to make women feel exactly like the name of her collection - like queens.
The designer herself modelling one of her designs

Each abaya takes Shahera a week to make as she pays scrupulous attention to detail and strives for a flawfless finish.
Shahera is now based in Lebanon but pays regular visits to Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, and makes custom abayas on request.
For more information on the label and on how to order, pay a visit to her Facebook page or email her at shahera.khader@gmail.com. You can also contact her on 00961370227773 or 0096176501313.


Feb 5, 2013

theDRESSroom.com: the hub for all dresses

With a friend's wedding coming up in a couple of months, I was pondering over what kind of dress I want to buy and where to find the perfect one. Shopping for a dress for a wedding usually involves hours of trailing through different shops and a lot of disappoinments before I find a suitable dress, and instead of having a fun shopping experience, I often find it stressful.
So you can imagine my glee when I discovered theDRESSroom.com, a Middle Eastern online shopping portal created by fashionable duo Dina Abdulhadi Daryani and Samantha Kayruz Chami, exclusively for dresses for glamorous and special occasions.
The website has a collection of over 2000 gorgeous dresses for special occasions like weddings, graduation parties, proms, cocktail parties and family soirees in a range of sizes (including maternity wear) by designers and labels like Alberto Makali, Nue by Shani, Laundry, Carmen Marc Valvo and Boutique Montage.
The website's special features include a fashion glossary, online gift vouchers and an online chat room where you can speak to personal shoppers who can offer advice, answer your style questions and guide you in picking out the right dress. You'll never have trouble finding the perfect dress again!
Jovani, AED 1,855

Tony Bowls, AED 2,095
Nue by Shani, $371

Carmen Marc Valvo, $578

To check it out, click here, and don't forget to "like" the Facebook page. You can follow theDRESSroom on Twitter @WowWhatADress.

Feb 3, 2013

Farfalla Haute Couture creates the Cardigan Abaya

Keeping warm while wearing the abaya can be a difficult task. Thick sweaters under the abaya can make you look bulky, while wearing cardigans, jackets or coats over the abaya is a look which is difficult to pull off. Most abaya wearers opt for pashminas and shawls, but they don't really keep you warm enough. So how about a cardigan which is incorporated into the abaya?
Well this is the innovative concept dreamt up by well-known Emirati designer, Fatma Abdul Jalil Al Fahim, creator of Farfalla Haute Couture. The abaya/evening gown/bridal fashion house, whose fan base includes both princesses and local fashionistas alike, was launched by Fatma in 2005. The word "farfalla" comes from the Italian word for butterfly, a word that sums up the fashion house perfectly - it's fun, it's elegant and it's feminine.
The new winter collection encompasses finely textured cotton cardigans that are embellished with black ribbon, beading, intricate embroidery, sequins and Swarovski crystals.

Of her cardigan abaya collection Fatma says, "This collection was inspired by the need to keep warm during winter because it is quite difficult to wear a jacket or cardigan over an abaya. I wanted to create a contemporary design that is practical, easy to wear and trendy. The collection embodies the characteristics of the abaya with a modern fashion twist." 
Where to get yours:
Farfalla Boutique, Bin Khedeya Building, Al Garhoud Street, Deira, Dubai
O Concept Store, Jumeirah, Dubai
Candella Boutique, Village Mall, Dubai
For more information, contact them at farfalla_couture@hotmail.com or call them on 00971 4283 1010. You can also check out the website and don't forget to "like" the Facebook page.

ByLiana Akhbar Handbags Set The Fashion News Agenda


If you're a fan of East-meets-West brands like Sarah's Bag, you will love the recently launched handbag brand ByLiana.
Launched just last month and already taking Jordan and the UAE by storm, this funky bag label is the fashion baby of Liana Mismar, who used her background in interior and graphic design, as well as her love of travelling, passion for fashion and love of all things Middle East to create these clutches and bags that are a fusion of East and West. Made from genuine Italian leather, her first collection of "Akhbar bags" (akhbar meaning news in Arabic), uses prints from Arabic newspapers, set against brilliant bold colours like fuchsia pink and green.

Of her designs Liana says, "ByLiana bags are a bold, unique vision of graphics inspired by my Middle Eastern culture; these bags are for a fearless woman who wants to stand out."
Get yours at:

Jordan - Amman

For the love of vintage
#17 Al Batoul Center, Ahmad Al-Arousi Street, Abdoun
+962 (0) 79828 0000

United Arab Emirates - Dubai

The Dubai Mall
Galeries Lafayette Dubai - O’de rose

O’de rose
999, Al Wasl Rd, Umm Suqeim 2, 102836 Dubai, United Arab Emirates
+971 (04) 348 7990

Boom and Mellow
Mall of Emirates, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
+971 (04) 341 3993

Valley Dez boutique
Sunset Mall, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
+971 (04) 3242883

Valley Dez boutique
Wafi Mall, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
+971 (04) 3809024

For more information, visit the website, or email Liana at liana@byliana.com. Be sure to "like" the Facebook page and follow her on twitter @bylianahandbags.