“I loved my Nina Ricci wedding dress. It was a timeless piece that I fell in love with the second I saw it. It had a black belt. It was a statement piece, and everyone can still remember it, even now,” says Maya Kaiss Ghanem about her favourite look of all time. Originally from Lebanon, the art and travel-loving 36-year-old mother of two – Lauren, four, and Christopher, two – now lives in Geneva with her family, but she’s also spent time living in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Monaco. And much like her places of residence over the years, her sense of style has also changed. “Now I care mostly about choosing clothes that suit me,” she tells Bazaar.“I must say that I am still a trend-loving girl – I like exotic things and I’ve always liked strong pieces, while keeping a line of simplicity at the same time.” She finds confidence admirable in other woman and has an appreciation for the way a woman “combines things together – from hats, to hair and make-up, to shoes. She has to be confident as well with every piece she chooses.” Although she has no specific icon of today, Maya says she always looks back to the undeniable elegance of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. “She is an inspiration to every woman. She is unforgettably stylish.”
Having loved and “admired beautiful things” since she was little, it should come as no surprise that Maya is now a big fan of Chanel. “I like many other brands, too,”she adds, “Valentino, Saint Laurent, Loro Piana, and more street style designers like Vetements.” With an assertive attitude and refined sense of what’s sartorially acceptable, Maya doesn’t struggle with deciding what to wear,“I choose quickly and easily but I must say that my biggest challenge is when I wear make-up. I don’t feel it suits me.”
Living in Europe means Maya’s style is often influenced by the unpredictable weather, and her favourite season to shop is cruise. “It’s like the designer is so motivated for their new collection, and then they get tired by the time the summer collection arrives,” she muses. She also shies away from multi-brand stores preferring the designer boutique experience. “Maya’s pet hate is perfection. “I always liked imperfection in style, whether it’s related to hair, shoes or make-up. I have never liked to say to any women,‘you look perfect’. I mostly find beauty in things that are odd and imperfect – they are much more interesting and challenging to me.”
Finally she says she would prefer to see a more natural aesthetic in the Middle East, and will encourage her daughter to “cultivate courage and confidence in her style and not to look somewhere else.”
Maya Kaiss Ghanem wears Chanel suit, tights, boots and hat, and Buccellati bracelet, all her own.
Photography: Daiifr. Words: Elaine Lloyd-Jones.