Modest fashion is an industry that has expanded at an unprecedented speed and volume in recent years. With social media facilitating the ease of sharing inspiration and gaining influence, many fashionistas with a modest outlook have struck gold by having a unique idea or style with which to bring to the table. The multitude of people doing the ‘modest fashion’ look means that styles can get repetitive and staying original is a feat in itself. There are many however leading the way and doing just that with the right attitude and enough sass to inject themselves into this world of under-tops and neck scarves.
Enter, Meem Alessa. The Kuwaiti fashion sensation whose personal style has been a hot hit with women everywhere. Going by the tag-line, ‘Long-sleeved fashion’ to denote her modest dressing, Meem’s style is uber-classic and oh-so feminine. With elements of the 20s and 50s in her outfits, Meem has been able to find a comfortable niche for herself and has a strong following on her Instagram account. Perhaps it is her love of art that inspires her locations, and one can’t help but notice the artistry of the backgrounds she chooses to showcase her fanciful attire. Her blog, (www.meemalessa.com) is replete with wonderful outfit ideas, but best of all, we get to see Meem in her daily wear, indulging in her passions, whether at a fashion event, or an art exhibition, she does it with style.
Meem’s forte is not simply relegated to being a well-dressed girl with a good following however. Her unique ballerina skirt design has been highly popular with many notable fashion icons on the Arab/modest-fashion blogging scene. The angelic white was worn by Nadya Hassan, in her appearance for Harpers Bazaar Arabia’s ‘Best Dressed’ section. Over in the states Winnie Detwa, rocked the plum coloured midi look, whilst closer to home, top-blogger Ascia AKF styled it out in black. With such creative success and an exclusive eye for fashion, we were eager to talk to Meem and learn a thing or two about her and from her!
Here are our 60-seconds with … Meem Alessa!
Introduce yourself in three words.
Dreamer, searcher & worker
You have made a great mark for yourself on the social media fashion scene, as well as being recognised as a prominent blogger. Take us briefly through your journey of reaching this point from day one.
When it started I didn’t have an objective in mind, I was only sharing pictures on Instagram of my reflected outfit in the elevator mirror on the way to work. Seeing the response I was encouraged to share more of what I like and my areas of interest, until one day when Instagram crashed temporarily and that has made me consider establishing the website.
Your ‘ballerina skirts’ have been a hit with many well-known bloggers and fashionistas, even making it onto the Harper’s Bazaar Arabia best dressed list, how did the inception for the skirt come about?
It came out of need, I wanted to have such a skirt and since I couldn’t find it in the market so I made one for myself. It’s been my best selling skirt and its voluminous nature has made it a favorite for occasions and celebrations.
We love your unique way of describing modest fashion as ‘long sleeved fashion’, what is modest fashion to you.
I find long sleeved fashion a more complex challenging fashion and that what makes it interesting, to be able to pull-off an LSF look effortlessly is a quite demanding task. My personal interest is with the varieties of cut and shape so it keeps me searching for more explore in the designs of others.
Tell us about how you got into designing?
As I’ve mentioned earlier it’s the need of having specific items that are not available in the market and the freedom to create them as they’d suit my taste. I started with designing for myself and the feedback I received confirmed that there are others who had the same needs that could be found in what I make, and that encouraged me to make designs for them as well.
We know from speaking to other designers that creating a piece is a delicate process, what is the hardest part of the process for you?
Finding the right material as it plays a great role in converting the piece from what is in my mind to reality.
The Kuwaiti fashion scene is booming. How do you manage to stay unique and true to your own style whilst still being open to inspiration from others?
Style to me plays a support function, I’m involved in many roles and having a comfortable style allows me to be focused on my tasks. Therefore I identify the main objectives of style as allowing me to achieve and adhere to my look which is reflective of my overall lifestyle.
Which other city fashion scenes are you feeling at the moment?
Spain, their production has been fantastic and very suitable to what I need.
Your style icons?
I’m more interested in fashion time periods than icons, such as the 20’s and 50’s.
How many hours a week do you spend on your social platforms?
Actually I spend on average 3 hours a week.
As arts and literature lovers too, we are interested to know your background in these fields. Do you have any formal training in either of these areas?
I come from a totally different background as I have a bachelor in engineering and master’s in business but over time I’ve tried to satisfy my aspiration for learning about them through reading and exposure to contemporary art.
Wow! Name an arts scene that you haven’t been to but would go to tomorrow if you could?
What kind of literature do you enjoy?
Novels and Poetry
Do you produce art/literature as well as fashion?
Do you own any art pieces?
Many bloggers follow the Kardashians in sharing so much of their lives to achieve success, how do you decide which parts to show and which parts to hold back?
In reality I’m a private person, so I draw the line by asking the question “is there any information that provides a benefit to the receiver”? If yes I’ll share it.
What annoys you about social media nowadays?
It started really well by people sharing aspects of their lives but now it become another channel for advertisements. What I promote are things which are parts of my life experience that I believe in their value for myself and that’s why I want to share it with others, but advertising for the sake of advertising constantly is not sharing your perspective and opinion
What’s on the top of your fashion wish list right now?
Diorissimo micro bag
Your book list?
Memoirs of a Sailor
What’s your proudest achievement to date?
To constantly explore and produce
What’s next for Meem Alessa?
This is a big question, overall I want to be an active useful member in the society and therefore helping and working on any project no matter the magnitude of it small or big is always what I look for, but when it comes to fashion and design, I haven’t been allocating a devoted time lately so I should start by putting it back in focus
Which fashion trend do you absolutely hate right now?
Wide cut jeans
Social media has its downside, with so many trolls and negative energy. Do you have any regrets about becoming a public figure?
Everything has it’s positives and negatives and for me as of now social media positives are worth the negatives that has resulted so until now no regrets.
How many languages do you speak?
2 – English and Arabic
If you could gather all your favourite bloggers anywhere in the world, who would you invite and where would the meeting place be?
Blair Eadie she has been my most loved blogger for years and it doesn’t matter any where she likes would be great.
Most important fashion item in your wardrobe right now?
High Street or designer clothing?
Designer pieces are good investments, but I do get great finds in high street so a mix of both.
Last week you invited guests over for a small celebratory get together at your house. You completely forgot about it but guests are arriving in just under two hours? What do you cook for the starter: main: dessert:?
I’m a bad cook I’ll just order pizza and salad and have chocolate for dessert
Have you experienced any cultural/social set-backs as a female blogging?
Yes, especially at the start, people are always skeptical but if you believe in yourself and what you do then listen to your heart and try it out. Later their words changed but what is important to realize is if what you do is not causing any harm and you want to try it, then try it and don’t let un-thought-out opinions dictate your life.
Most overrated fashion label in your opinion?
I think every label has a fan base that appreciate it so I can’t really say
How do you wind down?
If we wanted to throw away our entire wardrobe and start again, what would be the three main things to look out for when shopping for our new one?
Jeans, a vest and scarf
Your spirit animal is…
Which celebrity needs to sack their stylist?
Can’t think of one
How do you feel about being seen without no make-up?
Horrified, although I only use a little makeup, it makes a huge difference to my look
What do you notice first about someone?
Thank you so much for taking the time and putting these specific questions truly appreciated xx