CIIN’s Exclusive Interview With The Inimitable Dina Shaban
I didn’t see Dina, I saw Blossom first..You know Blossom from the Power Puff Girls, and yes I did a double take. Big, bright red and quirky I was intrigued by this bold tattoo on my gym partner’s forearm. As I did my exercises I entertained myself with presumptions about the woman beside me. ‘I mean who does that?’ I asked myself. Tattoos are a real commitment, that’s why a lot of people keep them small, general symbols that they can contort to their current lifestyle over the years.
But that’s not really Dina, she doesn’t do general. Like most creatives Dina is guided by instinct, with creativity running through her blood everything she does is natural yet bold. There is nothing forced about her yet everything she does is original, that’s the beauty of a creative. Dina is inimitable, just try copying her style and run the risk of looking a little ridiculous. Why then does it look so amazing on her? Because it’s authentic and with authenticity comes consistency. As for the term creative, how would I define it ? In my mind, it is reserved for those people that don’t care to be defined as creative, they just go about their business and are therefore the most creative.
If I were to tell you that Dina has worked under the genius minds of Vivienne Westwood (for you youngsters, VW is basically the J.W.Anderson of today) and Krikor Jabotian you would think it was just a lucky break, but I beg to differ. Authentic people are constantly drawn to what most appeals to them. And no, things don’t just miraculously appear. It is instead this gnawing desire that continues to eat at them, till they finally find what they are looking for. Contrary to popular belief creatives don’t always know what they want, but they know what the don’t want. Their minds like a cake mixer churning the ingredients of their latest endeavor, dipping their spoon to taste the batter then adding a pinch of this or that, till it works. I say ‘works’ because what they perceive as perfect others may wince at.
Last May I found myself on a flight to Athens with Dina, I recognized her by her fabulous head of warm blonde hair. I once again took a double take when I saw her outfit. I have always been told to dress up to the airport, ‘you never know who you might bump into.’ Dina was dressed like she was sure she wasn’t going to meet anyone. Only later did I figure out that she was dressed in the latest urban Vetements spirit, trés trendy. The funny thing was that Dina didn’t see me, again I didn’t get it. How could she not see me, at check in, at immigration, on the bus and on the fight… Well now I understand, Dina was up there in her own mind, churning away at her wedding plans. She knew what she didn’t want, she just wasn’t quite sure what she did…That’s the thing with those creative minds, while the rest of us are busy looking outwards, attempting to emulate the latest IT girl, they are busy up in their own minds drawing inspiration from their souls.
Which brings us to Dina’s wedding dress, probably the most discussed gown of the summer. A masterpiece of floral creativity and originality, those that know her well only had one thing to say, “It’s beautiful, and it’s Dina”. As for me, I said, “come on what did you expect a white Vera Wang?” The duck blue, tulle Marchesa couture gown, emblazoned with dozens of embroidered and appliquéd peonies, enriched the senses with its beauty and flamboyance. Oh how we all wish to be so courageous and still get it right…
When I asked Dina about her choice of dress she shared, “I never really thought about my wedding dress so it’s not like I had it planned years ahead… But I came across a photo of the dress while I was engaged and knew that’s the one.” See what I mean, her mind kept churning till she found the perfect one. She then went on to say, “I even showed it to my mom and contemplated changing the color, but then we both agreed that that would ruin the dress and that wearing something different would reflect who I really am and my personality.”
OK Im gonna say it, I love Dina’s mom, I love how she has lovingly nurtured her daughter’s originality. And so once again, the universe conspires to give Dina what she wants, “So I contacted Marchesa and was ecstatic to find out that they could make one for me. I had 2 fittings in NYC and only got to see the actual dress on my final fitting! I only got to see samples of the fabric and the flowers (made out of feathers) So it was a huge risk, but Marchesa were so professional and I faced no problems throughout the whole process.”
“I never really thought about my wedding dress so it’s not like I had it planned years ahead… But I came across a photo of the dress while I was engaged and knew that’s the one.”
What I found particularly interesting was the reaction of Marchesa’s creative directors, both Georgina Chapman (a.k.a. Mrs. Harvey Weinstein) and Keren Craig to Dina and her dress. After meeting the bride-to-be at the first fitting which is customary, they asked to see her at the final fitting also. After seeing the dress on Dina in pervious fitting photos they were blown away and felt inclined to meet with her again and see it in person. That’s how incredible the dress was!
And of course, her authenticity meant that everything flowed beautifully to make her wedding day perfect for her and the lucky groom. Dina shared, ‘the dress also worked perfectly with the theme of my wedding (boho-chic). The wedding took place in a beautiful garden overlooking the sea in Athens and there were dangling flowers and fairy lights everywhere which altogether complemented my dress.” But of course it would, when ideas and thoughts come from a place of truth, everything falls into place. As for the honeymoon destination, no they didn’t go to the One and Only resort in the Maldives, they went to New Zealand ! Enough said…
So how did this creative being come to be a fashion professional and influencer ? That is perhaps where luck played a part. Although I would bet my bottom dollar that this young woman has been a creative dreamer since childhood, (with her mum often asking her daydreaming daughter, “Dina wienek?”) it is her 5 years in the British capital that allowed her to spread her wings. In her own words, “I feel that living in London for 5 years really shaped who I really am today. The sense of self-expression and freedom that the city promotes affected me in different ways (the way I think, the way I dress). It’s diversity and vibrance inspired me to be different and to wear whatever that came to mind… you could literally wear a garbage liner and no one would look at you suspiciously.” Yes she was lucky to be in London, I don’t think five years at the prestigious Brigham Young University in Utah would reap the same result.
“I feel that living in London for 5 years really shaped who I really am today. The sense of self-expression and freedom that the city promotes affected me in different ways (the way I think, the way I dress). It’s diversity and vibrance inspired me to be different and to wear whatever that came to mind… you could literally wear a garbage liner and no one would look at you suspiciously.”
OK I need to be honest, it’s not just that Dina won the genetic lottery by being creative and gorgeous! The fact that she is a Taurean makes for a pretty incredible combination. Imagine all that originality being supported by the honesty, determination and hard work of a bull. If you don’t believe in horoscopes, just give me a second to try and convince you please… The Taurus sign is misinterpreted, stubborn they say, but it’s not stubborn it’s determined consistency. Those beasts just keep at it, they won’t let up, which makes them natural leaders wherever they go, the funny thing is they never aspired to be leaders…
Over the years Dina has fallen into a cornucopia of creative jobs, from jointly organizing the Vivienne Westwood fashion show at the Barbican Hall to a fashion and style editor at Al Faridah Publications group, to a communications executive to the one and only Krikor Jabotian. At each position she has excelled, losing herself in the job at hand and along the way, picking up skills that make her who she is today. That’s the thing with passionate hard work, you can’t help but learn from it as much as you give to it…. Which makes me most curious and excited for Dina’s next chapter in the Dubai, the Arab fashion capital of the world. With an ambitious project with All Things Mochi x Adidas Originals up her sleeves, the sky and beyond is no limit. For all those potential collaborations out there, I say, “catch her while you can”. To the rest of us I say, “watch out world”…