Fifteen years ago, Rana moved from London to Dubai to pursue a career in radio with MBC where she worked for eight years before shifting course. “I graduated from college as an architect and then I studied interior design and so after I had done my time at MBC I realised I needed to do something that resembled me a little more. I’m most proud of opening my business and starting at zero, and now today being one of the most reputable companies in the UAE and Middle East.” The company, Classic Home Décor, specialises in interior design and just finished doing Lojain Omran’s house.
For Rana, her day job and her wardrobe are inextricably linked. “I believe that fashion influences interiors and vice versa. For example, when Matthew Williamson releases a new collection, I get curious to see what he’s done in interior fabrics, and it’s the same for Ralph Lauren and their home collection.”
Rana says she often gets stopped in the street by strangers enquiring about her outfits which she believes is down to her styling. “I have a way of combining clothes and designers together and making it look nice, no matter whether the pieces are from Zara or Chanel or Gucci.” Walking through the mall “isn’t a good idea” Rana tells Bazaar as she “always pops in to Harvey Nichols and Bloomingdale’s to see what they have.” She’s also recently discovered Ounass. “It’s so easy and somehow they deliver to you in a matter of hours. The other day I didn’t even have the money to pay yet. I had to tell the delivery guy to wait while I ran to get it!” she says with a laugh.
There are two things that always manage to catch Rana’s eye when she’s shopping – watches and Chanel handbags. “I have around 30 handbags from Chanel. I remember I bought my first one in London about 20 years ago for £500. Can you believe how cheap it was? I had saved up all my money for it. It was fuchsia and orange and I still have it today.” With watches, it all started when she was first gifted one after finishing school. “My first watch was from Tiffany & Co. It was a graduation gift and I lost it. I’ve never forgotten it; I still remember what it looks like. And after that I started buying watches across the years – I wear everything from Bulgari to Cartier and Chopard – trying to make up for the one I lost. I think I got carried away,” she says with a slight laugh. Her collection now numbers “in the hundreds” but is she any closer to replacing the original? “Not yet. I’m still looking for it.”
Rana Kassim wears Gucci jacket, Cinq á Sept skirt, Nicholas Kirkwood shoes, all her own. Photography: Richard Hall. Styling: Samah Elmeri. Words: Maddison Glendinning. Hair & make-up: Blowout & Go. Location: Anantara the Palm Dubai Resort