Last week, we brought you the news that the Middle East was getting its very own fashion competition show, called Fashion Star, which follows in the footsteps of the show's US version which features Jessica Simpson and Nicole Richie. Today, ahead of the show's launch this evening on Dubai One, we caught up with judge Reem Acra exclusively to talk about the show, her incredible career and the Middle Eastern fashio industry.
Born in Beirut, Reem found fame in 1999 after releasing her debut collection of gorgeous bridal gowns. From there, her career has skyrocketed; you'd be hard-pressed to find any major red carpet that doesn't have at least one of her intricately beautiful designs swanning down them on the body of one of Hollywood's elite. However, when we ask what she's most proud of during her career, it's not the fame or the fancy celebrities that have worn her dresses, rather it's that she did it on her own two feet. "My parents were there for me, but I also carved my own path, one step at a time. I am proud that I was able to achieve my success on my own. It was almost impossible for anyone else to do what I did at the time I started," she says. "My career was not any easy path."
Celebrities in Reem Acra: Cara Delevigne at the 2015 MTV Movie Awards; Jennifer Lopez at the 2014 American Music Awards; Kristen Stewart at the 2013 Academy Awards; and Jenna Dewan Tatum at the 2015 Magic Mike XXL L.A. premiere
Whilst the road to success might not have been easygoing, the journey has well and truly paid off for the Lebanese designer, and, though she's far from being done, she's now in the perfect position to pass her wisdom on to the next generation of designers through Fashion Star. "I hope to bring experience and a high standard that sets the tone for the contestants. I believe in Fashion Star and what it can and will do for the fashion community in terms of helping out the new, up-and-coming designers," she tells Bazaar. "It's important for initiatives like this show to exist as it exposes the behind-the-scenes and the reality of the fashion world to the designers and the viewers. It also exposes young talent to the world, and helps fast-track their entry into the world of fashion." Her advice to the contestants? "Be yourself and enjoy the ride."
When it comes to the Middle Eastern fashion industry as a whole, Reem believes there's still so much for it to do and discover. "It is the beginning of the road," she says, adding that it is the industry's innate understanding of a woman that sets them apart from the rest of the world. "[Middle Eastern designers] understand a woman, what she wants, and they love to make her look good."
Speaking of looking good, during our chat the designer shared with Bazaar, her top five, must-have items for any wardrobe. "A good set of high heels, a sharp, red lipstick, a pair of black trousers, great underlay support, and a good handbag," she lists. "Once the basics are there, fashion pieces can be worn with confidence."
When she's not dishing out her hard-earned wisdom on the fashion industry on Fashion Star, what can we expect next for her eponymous brand? "I'm taking it one day at a time." So far, so excellent.
Fashion Star debuts on Duabi One at 10pm tonight. - Maddison Glendinning