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U Magazine - - INTERVIEW -

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.

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