HARPER’S BAZAAR: Firstly, welcome to Dubai!
HANNELI MUSTAPARTA: Thank you! I’ve always wanted to come here to get a real sense of the scene – and also to go sandboarding in the desert! And because there were some key events that I wanted to attend it was perfect timing; especially at this time of year, after such a long winter in New York!
HB: You’re quite the Fashion Week pro, snapped on the streets of all the major cities. Of your travels to Dubai, what have you liked most about this city?
HM: I’m impressed by the scale of the mosques, the modern architecture and I love the sandy-coloured buildings that feel so authentic to their surroundings.
HB: From model to stylist to blogger, you’ve become a fashion icon to so many, but whose sartorial choices do you admire from this region?
HM: I’ve met so many great women since I’ve been here. For me, I don’t really have a ‘style’ icon as such, I’m more interested in people’s attitudes. My friend’s Princess Deena Abdulaziz is a perfect example; such a strong, confident lady who carries herself well.
HB: Your own blog has a huge following, so which bloggers from here are on your radar?
HM: I attended a private dinner on my first night in Dubai with Nathalie Trad, where I met Anum Bashir (Desert Mannequin), Teresa Karpinska (Style Drifter) and Tala Samman (My Fash Diary), and I can’t wait to read more about them.
HB: What is your definition of true ‘style’?
HM: Style is being true to who you are, not shifting with every trend that comes along but knowing which colours work for you and which cutes compliment your silhouette.
HB: How would you describe your own aesthetic?
HM: Feminine, playful, and I love to experiment with interesting colour combinations. I recently wore a high-waisted khaki blouse with a shiny metallic baby blue sweater; such a beautiful combination!
HB: Stylistically, have you been inspired by what you see here?
HM: Yes, I love the femininity and confidence. Coming from the West, it’s interesting to see how they apply variations to their outfits, to dress with modesty in mind.
HB: For women that wear abayas, accessories are all the more important. Have any stood out?
HM: I’ve certainly seen some amazing accessories whilst here, and I had the pleasure of meeting Buthaina Al Mazrui and Alamira Noor Bani Hashim from The Dinner Club No. 57 at their café in Dubai. I spotted a Fendi mini Peekaboo bag on Buthaina, which I loved. It was fun, as I was wearing mine too!
HB: How did your style adapt for the Middle East?
HM: It’s been a nice challenge to dress modestly enough, yet still fun and exciting. But I packed really badly, as I had no clue what to bring and ended up with everything! But I’m glad I did, as I didn’t realise Dubai was as liberal as it is. I packed some Mary Katrantzou dresses, Louis Vuitton trousers, a few vintage summer dresses, silk shorts and tops from Michael Kors and some bikinis from Lisa Marie Fernandez and Zimmerman.
HB: Who are your five go-to designers?
HM: Prada, Dior, Acne, Stella McCartney and MiuMiu.
HB: Did you have time to mall trawl?
HM: Yes and I’ve been really impressed with the amazing selection in terms of buying that the stores have. I shopped at Boutique 1 and the selection was insane!
HB: For the first time in a while, the West is looking to the East for style inspiration. What do you look to this region for?
HM: I’m always inspired by colour, so it’s the perfect place for me.
HB: There’s a big support system now in place to help nurture the local design scene. Do you think that’s important?
HM: Absolutely, it’s super-important, especially to the overall fashion landscape. It’s so hard to become successful as an emerging designer without funding and guidance, so it’s fantastic that you have something launching here.
HB: Which Middle Eastern designers have you had your eye on?
HM: I’ve got a beautiful pastel pink skirt from Toujouri, I’ve worn The Kayys during Paris Fashion Week, and I’ve also come across Zayan the Label, All Things Mochi and Reemami whilst here, which I’ve loved wearing. I also found a gorgeous palm print dress at Boutique by Kage.
HB: Who from the fashion world has given you the best piece of advice?
HM: I love Grace Coddington, and she has said, “Remember to look out of the window when travelling from the airport. Look around you, look up…” It’s good to remember to take everything in because inspiration can come from anywhere.
HB: With 191k follower on Instagram and so prominent in the public eye, how do you keep your private life private?
HM: I surround myself with really good people who I can trust, but I also use social media for my private life. I’m a big user of Snapchat to stay in touch with my friends and family when travelling.
HB: And to talk beauty… what were your travel essentials for this trip?
HM: I packed Luzern Lab SPF50 sunscreen, Nimue cleanser, toner and daycream; the latter is a great product for the hot weather as there is no oil in it. I’ve also brought Glo Minerals powder foundation, which blends with the natural oils in your skin, so it’s good for hot climates. And on the plane, I use Dior Prestige moisturizer every two hours to keep hydrated.
HB: The UAE celebrates its 44th birthday this year and you’re 32 years old. What’s your take on the ageing process?
HM: For me it’s all about being healthy, taking care of yourself and ageing with pride. Find what works for you…