n our exclusive interview, Nadine reveals both her intriguing past and exciting future. Were you always interested in fashion, or is that something that came into play later on? I always had an interest in fashion, but I never thought it would become my career. As a little girl living in Paris, I would ask my parents to take me to Avenue Montaigne to see the window displays. During Paris fashion week, I would freeze in front of the television waiting for images of Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Lacroix and Chanel shows, and nothing could disturb my concentration during those 5-minute sequences. The realisation that I wanted to work in fashion came much later, when I developed a growing passion for fabrics, cuts and craftsmanship. You were born in France but moved to Beirut to study at AUB. How did this experience have an impact on you as a person? What did you take away from it? My AUB experience taught me to be proactive - to find what I like and make my own path. I enrolled at AUB in 2001 with positive mindset, thinking it would easy to adapt since I was coming back to my origins. But AUB turned out to be a competitive environment, with hard-working students already aware of how important networking is, as well as showing solid proof of leadership skills and volunteering activities. I was a thousand miles away from that in the beginning, but I learnt that it’s important to embrace your individuality and pursue
U Magazine meets fashion-forward Nadine Mneimneh, a designer with roots in Paris that stretch all the way to Beirut.
your own goals! There’s an obvious contrast between the French and the American system, and I’m very happy to have experienced both. You traveled to Milan after graduating from AUB. Can you tell us more about this part of your life? During my last year at AUB, I started taking night classes at ESMOD in patternmaking. At that time, I was completely obsessed with Tom Ford – both the persona and his work for Gucci. So after my graduation I begged my parents to send me to Milan to attend a class at Marangoni. It was an amazing experience as I had the privilege to interact with industry professionals who would share their knowledge with such humility. This is when I thought, for the first time, that I wanted to work in fashion. In your opinion, how is European fashion different to that of Lebanon? There’s a belief that fashion comes from the street. If you walk in any European fashion capital, you can feel a mood, a rhythm. You can identify a variety of style influences and you really witness how fashion is a way to communicate and express yourself. Sadly, that’s not really the case in Lebanon. I walk a lot in Beirut, but my eyes are always thirsty for originality. And it’s the same thing if I’m walking in a mall - I feel Lebanese women are under a certain pressure to look young, neat and seductive all the time; this may be why they are not really risk-takers and choose to make more conventional fashion and beauty choices.