The Posh Fairy for H&M Conscious Exclusive Collection

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I’ve worked with H&M Kuwait team a few times before to conceptualize and direct shoots for different collections last year. And this year, I had the pleasure of working with them again on the oh-so-hot conscious exclusive collection that has been making headlines all over the world, and it’s SO worth it. Here are the shots.

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CREATIVE DIRECTOR | STYLIST: Joumana Soufi @thesidetalk
PHOTOGRAPHER: Saleh Al Sanad @al_sanad
MODEL: JiaoJiao @jiaojiaoyao
WARDROBE: H&M Conscious Exclusive Collection @hm
HAIR: Aziza ‘Zizi’ Skaff – Blush Hair & Beauty Center @azizaskaff
MAKEUP: Amal Al Adwani @amal_makeupartist
LOCATION: Al Hamra Thermae @alhamra_thermae

Lush Kitchen: Exclusive Fresh Cosmetics

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This Springtime, Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics are launching the Lush Kitchen to produce exclusive, pre-release and customer favorite products. A brand new concept, small batches of limited edition products will be made daily and available to purchase exclusively online. Products will then be sent out on the day they are made, fresh from the Kitchen!

You will also be able to view real-time updates from behind the scenes activity in the Lush Kitchen, with special events and expert Q&A’s streamed live through the new Lush.co.uk website.

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For the first time, fans of Lush will be able to see the inner workings of the factory and just how the Lush Compounders (aka, cosmetic chefs) hand make Lush’s products, using the best quality and ethically sourced ingredients at their freshest and most effective. Everything about Lush is about what’s inside – from the fresh ingredients and beautiful essential oils used in their products, to the way they make you feel on the inside. By showcasing and exploring the magic in the transformation from source to product, customers will have access to the Lush experts in their craft and see the real, transparent and engaging way the products are made.

Follow the @lushkitchen to find out what we’re cooking up!

When I Wore Sacoor Brothers

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A couple of weeks ago, I was invited by Sacoor Bothers to visit the store and choose an item, or two, to take home. It was my first time at their store in 360 mall, and the variety of the collection surprised me. They carry women, men, and kids, and offer a great customizing service, and the comfort of personalized fit. Pure luxury without the staggering price tag. Coming to Kuwait straight from Portugal, these garments are made with the finest cotton and designed in style of amazing signature European cuts. The brand is the official suit supplier for FC Barcelona. Don’t you just love that? I do! And it also was spotted on celebrities like William Baldwin, Chris O’Donnell, Rob Lowe, and actors from Grey’s Anatomy donning the collections!

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I got this refined shirt that comes with the cutest little buttons. I love small details, they make such a difference with classic pieces. I paired the shirt with NewLook denim and Zara heels. I picked the shirt in blue, but they had a big collection of colors in stripes and checks and also plain.

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The other piece that I picked was this gorgeous dress that I fell in love with the minute I laid eye on! A pink shirt dress that looks so vintage-y, and comes with the cutest black bow belt to top it off! I felt like i was coming out of a 1960s movie wearing it. And I paired it with Ralph Lauren blue python heels.

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I will definitely be adding this brand to my shopping destinations, for both me and the hubby (their men’s collection is super stylish and sharp). If you are looking for a piece to stand out in your outfit, or a gift for him that you can customize, you must pay a visit to their store in 360 mall, 1st floor.

H&M Conscious Exclusive Collection

I usually highly anticipate H&M’s designer collaborations, but this year, the H&M Conscious Exclusive collection is doing the job, keeping everyone around the world on their tip toes! Inspired by flamenco and bohemia, featuring embellishments, feminine silhouette and contrasting masculine details. Each piece is incredibly feminine, yet very powerful. I’m absolutely obsessed! The eco-fashion line is the brainchild of the Swedish retailer and eco-design think tank Ever Manifesto. The collection will hit stores on April 10, and will be available in 150 stores worldwide, including both H&M stores at the avenues. It will include items made of organic leather and silk, along with other sustainable materials. Make sure to drop by and get your hands on your favorite pieces. I know I will!

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A Rising Supermodel: Hanaa Ben Abdesslem

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Springing from revolutionist Tunisia onto Paris’s illustrious catwalks, Hanaa Ben Abdesslem exudes that elusive characteristic known as ‘IT’. She somehow defines everything that fashion relishes: exotic freshness, sinuous form and slightly serious demeanour. Defiantly different, Hanaa has independently shifted the beauty ideals across the Arab world and beyond.

With allure so evocative of the nineties supermodels and particularly reminiscent of the enigmatic Linda Evangelista, She reincarnates the era’s maximalism. Couture has never been worn with such great nonchalance!

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Photos © MoDa’s Touch

NYLA Method Launches Barre-based Fitness Classes for Women in the UAE

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The barre fitness concept pioneered by Andrea DeBellis, a leader in the New York and London’s wellness scenes, recently announced the launch of NYLA Method in the UAE. From 19 March 2014, female-only classes will be taught across the UAE, to be followed with the exciting opening of a spacious villa, NYLA Method studio in Dubai in the upcoming months. Taught by one of six female instructors, NYLA Method sets a new standard in the UAE’s growing fitness scene, offering a fun workout that promises outstanding results.

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NYLA Method combines the best of the barre fitness concept with other complimentary disciplines, taught by highly talented instructors who have relocated to the UAE from New York, Los Angeles, and Australia. Food enthusiasts will also be able to enjoy NYLA Kitchen, a sanctuary for the uber health conscious, where they can fuel up on an array of organically sourced super foods with gluten-free and dairy-free options; the ideal social hangout before or after a workout.

As part of a perfect regime to tone up and take a break from the daily routine, NYLA Method classes are cutting-edge when it comes to fitness trends. Founder Andrea DeBellis has collaborated alongside health and wellness experts from a variety of disciplines including Ballet, Yoga, Pilates and Physiotherapy to create the method, with an overall goal of empowering women through fitness and nutrition. An essential part of the NYLA Method also includes guiding women on the value of a balanced diet, to further emphasize the importance of a holistic approach to healthy living.

Dove Launches New Delicious Range of Purely Pampering Body Lotions

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With the introduction of NEW Dove Purely Pampering Body lotions, there is now a new delicious way to care for skin. The new body lotions pamper skin with the most wholesome caring ingredients – ranging from shea butter to luscious almond cream.
The new moisturising Dove Body lotions care for skin layers deep, deeper than any other lotion, leaving skin healthy and beautifully soft and smooth.

NEW Dove Pampering Body lotions are available in the following variants:
• Shea Butter & Warm Vanilla
• Almond Cream & Hibiscus

Not only do the new Dove Body lotions offer everyday superior care for skin, but they envelop the senses with delicious fragrances. The unique scent combinations in the lotions have been carefully chosen by the fragrance experts at Dove to offer an immersive, indulgent everyday pampering experience, which awakens the senses.

Dove Purely Pampering Body lotions are currently available at major supermarkets.

Sephora’s Revolutionary Upside Down Mascara

Sephora's Revolutionary Upside Down Mascara

Smart, life-changing and innovative products that are transforming cosmetics made in Sephora are starting a revolution! With innovation at all levels, the Sephora Girl’s Lab is moving forward at full speed!

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Sephora introduces the new Upside Down Mascara, an exciting mascara that leaves no lash behind. With a revolutionary application technique, this multi application 360° mascara comes with 3 make up results – volumizing, curving and lengthening; the perfect formula for beautiful lashes. With its revolutionary dual brush innovation, the Upside Down Mascara ensures that your lashes are coated from the root, and covered from top to bottom.

How to use your mascara in 3 unique ways:

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Open Dual Brush: For 360º volume, place the eyelashes between the two brushes, and pinch gently, stretching out toward the top in order to cover both sides of the eyelashes. The flat brush must be below the eyelashes and the round brush, above.
Closed Dual Brush: For optimal length and curve, cover the eyelashes using the dual brush in the closed position, as with a classic mascara.
One Brush Only: For perfectly defined lower lashes, use the flat brush in a “zigzag” movement from the root to the tips.

Sephora’s Upside Down Mascara is available at all Sephora stores at the following prices: AED 105, QAR 109, KWD 8.5, SAR 112, BHD 11.2

Miranda Kerr for H&M Spring Summer 2014

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The drop-down-gorgeous international supermodel Miranda Kerr have recently been announced the face of the H&M Spring Summer 2014 campaign. The Australian beauty manages to make everything look so good! I’m so excited for the news and I cant wait to see more of this amazing collaboration.

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Exclusive Interview: Paul Marks – General Manager of Build-A-Bear Workshop Gulf States

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Paul Marks, a man with over 30 years retailing experience, starting as a management trainee with Marks & Spencer before spending 14 years in International Retail Development & Operations with Toys R Us International Division. After 5 years in the Airport Duty Free Industry he ran his own Retail Consultancy, Retail Management Solutions, advising International Airport Retailers and the Indian Government on Airport Retail Concourse Design and Franchisee and Operator selection.

There then followed a number of consultancy roles in Dubai, where he has been based for the past 18 years, with international brands such as Nike, Timberland, McDonalds, The Emirates Group, Standard Charted Bank and Nakheel’s Retail Division, Retailcorp. This led to Paul’s appointment as Lead Retail Consultant for Dubai Maritime City and Nakheel Northern projects. In his new role as General Manager with Build-A-Bear Workshop Paul will focus on growing the brand throughout the GCC and MENA region while at the same time looking for partnership and investment opportunities that will ensure an attractive proposition for growth.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Mr.Marks after being invited to visit build-a-bear workshop store in Kuwait to live the experience as a whole; definitely a fun and bonding activity to do with your child. You will read about my visit in a soon-to-follow post, for now, get a glimpse on the experience from the man himself, Mr. Paul Marks.

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Thesidetalk: Where did the idea of building a bear come from? And when?
a: Build-A-Bear workshop has been around for 15years. Our founder, Maxine Clark came up with the idea. She was in retail, with a friend of hers who had ran out of collecting, a product called beanie babies. That’s when Maxine suggested making your own. It was the champagne moment in 1997. This light bulb moment lead to Maxine moving out of corporate retail. She wanted to do something with children & build a system wherein she could engage with the customers. Everybody always wants bear and it’s a fun thing.

Thesidetalk: How important is a toy for a child’s development?
a: It’s a really interesting, I get this question a lot at the moment particularly as we have a lot of children on the ipad using social networks. If we go back to family and friends, what’s the first thing we see in a crib? It’s a teddy bear or it’s a soft toy or a cuddly toy. Within us, we have this innate desire to nurture or to be nurtured. The cuddly toy or the ability to hug or hold something its part of human nature. We are often surprised how early that starts in a child’s development. It’s not the toy itself, it’s the creativity that goes with it/. It’s the game playing, stimulating the children’s imagination. The cuddly toys sparks the creative juices and gets people thinking. That’s the real value of a cuddly toy and any object, be it a doll or a car sparks child’s imagination.

Thesidetalk: Did the rise of the iPad affect the toys industry?
a: That’s a very interesting question and a favourite one. We see so many children on iPads and I think we are past this, at the end of the day we live in a modern world and the iPad is a part of that. I think it does much good as it does damages; there are a lot of educational games and apps on it. It’s kind of replaced the television; when we were kids we would stick to educational videos. I think at the end of the day it’s about the balance in life. Ultimately it’s the parents’ priorities and prerogative to limit the use of it and it’s their duty to manage the content and to encourage children to get outside to play. There’s always a place for children to play with their bears! I have a standard phrase I use in this case, “you can’t hug an iPad”.

Thesidetalk: At this tech-savvy time we live in, how hard is it to still be one of the few making a good old teddy bear?
a: Since you have gone in to our stores, you will see how the process is not just about buying a bear but its more about enjoying the experience. One this I find interesting particularly in conferences is when I hold a bear up and the audience smiles. You pick up a bear and the common and first thing they say is “how cute is that”. You can then go wiggle the arm or screw its face up and you have people giggling and guess what it’s just the bears; it’s one of those things going back to the nurturing aspect, it triggers something in the human mind when they see anything that’s cuddly or cute. Look at YouTube, 90 percent of the million people watch videos of babies, cats and dogs doing things that are cute. I think that’s a part of it and I think there’s always a place for general cuteness and cuddliness. I think there’s a place for both, there isn’t competition between tech-savvy people/technology and cuddly toys.

Thesidetalk: How do you mix the traditional teddy bear with what makes it more appealing for children of today?
a: I think of the things that particularly interesting about Build-A-Bear Workshop is we do not actually sell teddy bears, we sell an experience. One of the greatest satisfactions we often surprised or it never stops surprising is sometimes watching the parent. While they are going through the building process, watching their children enjoy the process. Technology comes in play is through our new media, how people share information. If you look at instagram or any social networking websites, if we put up a picture of a kid building a bear or the bear doing something daft – we get 83 to 90 likes within a minute. This is where technology comes in – playing an important role and is a new vehicle of spreading the word. As I said earlier, it’s not a competition and you don’t have to embrace technology overtime. Louis Vuitton is still going to be Louis Vuitton handbags. You don’t need a microchip in them to tell that you’ve got home; it’s still a beautiful product. Technology is now used to tell a story.

Thesidetalk: Do you think children receive enough learning or value from toys, characters or apps?
a: It’s really a difficult question; I think it’s about content. There’s a lot to be said about educational app. I think there are two parts to it – you always want to stimulate a child whether it’s a Mickey Mouse on the television 20 years or my little pony on an app. This is all part of entertainment that’s about making people giggle or have a bit of fun. On the other hand, the more serious side is educational and again there are probably more apps, then ever were television programs teaching you to count, to play, to discover, to go on adventures. And I think as I said earlier combining the two is the key. Balancing playing around outside, sitting at home quietly telling a story to your bear or learning a new tune or singing a song on an app. I think there’s a place for everything.

Thesidetalk: In you own words; tell us about the build-a-bear experience.
a. As a retailer, it’s all about engaging a customer and creating a relationship. From a child’s point of view, it’s really about the fun. We say, we don’t sell bear – we sell love, hugs and smiles. The child comes in and sees their bear stuffed on the wall. They can put a sound it in, and they can go to the big lovely stuffing machines, press the peddle and go on to stuffing the bear at the same time. They can give it a hug test to check if it’s the right level of hugability. Then, there’s a special moment, where they make special wishes and put the heart in the bear. The children can dress it, personalise it, and accessorise it with sunglasses, shoes & everything. They also get to name the bears and make its birth certificate. This leads to a whole new level of interactive play on our website and soon on our apps. There are actually processes, that we call – choose me, hear me, stuff me, fluff me, dress me, name me and finally take me home. Our customers don’t just leave the store and we don’t call it checking out but we call it the ‘take me home’. The bear gets popped into its own distinctive condo a little house and take it home. There’s a lot to it, from the minute you enter our stores. Our bear builders spend over 30mins with each customers, it’s a real argument.

Thesidetalk: What’s next?
a. One of the things that are always great fun is that although we are called Build-A-Bear Workshop we have very many furry friends and we found that in the Middle East and that four legged animals are very popular and we are delighted that we have six very successful stores and we’ll have 10 by the end of the year. Dubai Mall is the top international store amongst 86 franchises. Kuwait is always up there which means it resonates with the local population as much as expats. And we hope between now and 10 stores and in maybe five years we should be a AED50 Million business with over 15 stores. We are going to get involved in other countries which are great fun. The future looks bright and most of all it’s fun.