How does a Dutch girl find herself in Dubai?
After finishing my styling, interior and product-presentation studies I was ready for a new challenge. I looked into the opportunity of becoming an Art university exchange student for a year and had the possibilities to do so in Shanghai. I installed a speed course basic Chinese on my iPhone and my friend and I booked our flights for a research trip in China to decide if this was going to be the next step in life. While booking the tickets we saw the possibility to make a stopover in Dubai, and as my cousins live there, the plan was made! As a very inexperienced traveler I did not realize that traveling required a lot of planning and research, which I basically didn’t do. I arrived to Shanghai with my lovely backpack where I soon found myself in an interrogation room with a few Chinese police officers asking me loads of questions. All the “who, what and where” were asked and basically I soon came to the conclusion that we did not apply for a Visa (-which at the time I thought was a Visa credit card-) The word “please have mercy” was unfortunately not mentioned in my Chinese speed course dictionary, so we got shipped off on the first plane back to Dubai, where we luckily still had a stop-over. We spend 2 weeks in the sun, sand and fun and I fell in love in Dubai! That’s when I decided to leave my life full of cheese, windmills and wooden shoes behind to exchange it for Dubai, a mysterious desert city full with endless opportunities and adventures!
What are the challenges in working for the fashion industry in a Middle Eastern country?
A big challenge, – but at the same time an opportunity- is that in some ways the region still is behind in fashion. I find that people are less daring and therefor scared to try something new or to express themselves. Because of this the ME fashion industry evolves slower than for example Europe, however a lot of amazing projects started in the last few years which proven to have a huge impact on the industry. Fashion forward, Middle East fashion week, Harpers bazaar’s World of fashion and Vogue night out Dubai have all set a lot of initiative to educate, challenge and develop the region. I definitely believe Dubai has a lot of potential to catch-up with the bigger fashion cities in the world.
What is your daily routine like?
Since I was born, I have always been a night owl. But it was only until beginning of May this year that my routine has completely changed around. This all happened when I started NYLA, A workout program in Dubai that was developed in New York and LA. For 5 weeks I participated in a so called “beautcamp” which focused on all the “problem areas that women usually have – Butt, hips, tummy, upper legs and upper arms. Each day, me and a group of girls from mixed backgrounds woke up early to start our day at 6:30 for a workout on the beautiful beach of the Fairmont – Palm Jumeirah hotel. After 5 weeks of not missing one training the program was over and ever since I just love starting my day with an early morning workout! After that I have breakfast with my other half – John, to eventually set off to Harvey Nichols where I keep myself busy styling everything from window displays, mannequin, fashion shows and photo-shoots. When the working day is done, my second job starts; Blogging for www.styleisnecessity.com. My evenings can be full with visiting events to see what’s going on in Dubai, writing new blogpost for the website or answering emails to work on exciting upcoming projects. (Like this one).
What is your daily beauty routine like?
I can keep this short and simple – My makeup application is like a marathon, as fast as possible with the best results And for all the people that have asked me how I do this… I made a “daily beauty routine video:
Can you describe the pros and cons of your job?
Every day I spend my time composing outfits with some of the most amazing designer brands without looking at the price tag! I get to research fashion news and work on some of the most exciting projects. The down side is that sometimes you have to work nightshifts as windows have to be installed when the customers are gone.. And believe me, it is not easy to adjust from day to night. Even though everyone thinks working in fashion is amazing, it is hard work, and competition is big, so you have to keep yourself educated and on top of your game to stay were you are.
Being a stylist, you must get your hands on some spectacular clothes. Do you have any cool stories to share, where you end up with a closet full of Manolos?
I am a sucker for privet sales. My hunt for discounts will put Rebecca Bloomwood to shame (*confessions of a shopaholic) and I mostly refuse to pay full price for my designer goods. I bought a Marchesa gown for less money than a romantic dinner for 2, a Celine dress for the price of a bouquet of flowers and a Fendi bag cheaper than the price of a flight ticket back home. (trust me, that’s cheap) I even set up an exclusive whatsapp group with some of Dubai most fashionable girls in which we share our secrets on all of the upcoming discounts and privet sales. I guess I take shopping to a whole other level..
How has your style evolved since you came to Dubai and started blogging?
My style has definitely evolved! And that is mainly because I evolved myself. I feel Dubai turned me from a girl into a woman and you can see that in my way of dressing. I wear less sneakers and tomboy clothes. I don’t believe someone ever stops changing their style as fashion, trends and someone’s personality continuously changes. Having that said, working in fashion helped me to understand the business side of fashion, the difference in quality of materials, and the efforts that goes into the designs and concepts behind a collection.
If I had to buy just one thing for this A/W what should that be?
A beautiful oversized coat! It might not be the temperature yet in Dubai, but when it cools down, you have to be spotted in one of these! If you look out for a coat with sloped shoulders, wide sleeves and a cocoon shaped silhouette you can’t go wrong.
Do you also do men’s styling? Which is the hardest? Girls or boys?
I style men, woman, kids, interiors and even food! Yep, even food needs styling, trust me Men’s styling is actually not that hard once you know all the rules of dressing. Especially for formal styling there are dressing etiquettes that have been around for ages. And with these rules there is not much to play around with, and I believe you shouldn’t. Besides from that the choice of clothing for men is quite small, so I find it rather easy to dress men. The hardest group to style is actually kids. They usually hate to dress up, and they don’t understand the necessity of wearing a 3-piece suit for a photo shoot. To be honest I can fully understand them. Besides from changing diapers, cleaning snotty noses, and wiping away tears usually it is the moaning parents that are the biggest hassle. They just can’t let it go that they never had a modeling career and are trying to relive their dream through their children in order to feel satisfied.
In which way has your blog affected and helped your work?
The main reason why I started the blog was to stay creatively inspired. And that is exactly what it’s still doing till today! I meet a lot of new people in the fashion industry who teach me new things every day. Working together with other brands, PR companies and fashion industry people has been one of the best learning schools in my life and it constantly forces me to develop and improve my skills. One thing is for sure, I am never bored!
Your place looks really neat. Is that the Dutch coming out of you or the stylist?Simple answer, it is my OCD boyfriend. I believe creative people should be messy. Think about it – If they are too organized they are never able to think out side of the box!
Ok, last one, how do you see your blog in the future?
My dream would be to turn SIN into an online lifestyle magazine / webshop concept. As I am a stylist, with a background in retail, graphic design, set design, photography and fashion, I believe bringing these skills together can lead to a very creative magazine and online network. Besides from the blog, I also would love to spend more time developing my hand made jewelry collection. As we all know, Dubai is a city full with opportunities, you just have to get on the train to see where it will take you
A few comments on the things pictured above:
Sam’s wooden shoes, are authentic Dutch. She colored them white, because she felt they fit better like that in her apartment. / A lot of the furniture found in her place are actually things used during her Visual Merchandizing days. The purple chairs were of a Gucci window. / Her mom, pictured in the red outfit in the photo frame is probably where Samantha gets her love for style. / The necklaces are all made by her, using old or damaged key chains, rings and necklaces. / The jacket hanging from the living room closet was bought in Amsterdam for 5 euros. The only thing I got from Amsterdam is Gummy Bears and Marzipan. / Kudos to Samantha for bearing the heat on her rooftop (empty) pool in her gorgeous Marchesa gown.