EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with Caterina Minthe

Naturally everyone was excited about Style.com/Arabia's reveal last October. It is the first and only of Condé Nast's media brands to have a presence in the Middle East and North Africa. Reading through the website, you'll definitely find  new and exciting articles by various journalists, socialites, and fashion personalities. Caterina Minthe caught my attention a while ago. She is the features editor of Style Arabia, she writes in a way that grips the reader to want more. She writes about fashion like a journalist writes about politics. She's sassy, witty, straight to the point, often sarcastic and sometimes blunt

Caterina Minthe on her wedding day wearing heirloom diamond drop earrings. Photo by Art Haus Foto . Paris.

Here's the interview; read it wearing your couture and your Tom Ford reading glasses...

F:Who is Caterina Minthe?
C:A citizen of the world. A workaholic. A curious cat.

F:How did you land your job with Style.com/Arabia?
C:I hope, for everyone’s sake, it is because I am a good Editor! As a Condé Nast publication, Style.com/Arabia is one of the highest profile online fashion platforms in the Middle East. It has just only launched but we carry on our shoulders a name that is one of the most respected and well-known in the international fashion industry. Journalism is hard work. Writing is an art. And an Editor is a writer’s high priestess.

F:I love interviewing people. I like getting inspired by reading someone's story on how he/she built their name, brand, or mark in this world. You have conducted loads of interviews, how did that impact your life or change your views about people and their experiences?
C:Sometimes I am very inspired by people’s stories. Once I interviewed Youssef Chahine at his home in Cairo--he was perhaps Egypt's most iconic filmmaker. As I lit cigarette after cigarette for him, he told me some incredible stories. Other times, I am sadly disappointed because, in an interview with an up and coming designer, or even an established one, will just repeat what he read elsewhere, thinking it is cool or it is the “right” thing to say. In the Middle East, people are generally very polite and diplomatic. It is who they are, but sometimes I want to shake them and ask, “But is this really how you think? How you feel?” If you have an opportunity to have your voice be heard, say something unique. People copy how people dress and they copy what other people say.

F:Of all the talented young Arab designers, which of them do you predict a bright future?

C:Rabih Kayrouz, from Lebanon, though his label is based in Paris. I saw his show this past winter and was very impressed with his vision and overall he presented a strong collection. At the end of the show, he ran into the audience to thank them. It was a very emotional moment that translated to the audience and reverberated back to him. This is someone who has an energy and talent that people will migrate to over the long-term. I was also blown away by Tresors Sauvages UAE's first collection.

F:Describe your personal style?

C:My husband refers to me as the, “petite moche à lunettes”. 

F:Who are your fashion icons?
C:A fashion icon is not a lady who wears a scarf a certain way and inspires me to wear a scarf. Rather, she is a woman who, via her fashion choices, transmits an emotion. What is embedded in my mind are iconic cinematic moments where the styling is not overt and yet the emotion that transcends is iconic in itself for its strength.
For example, “Lucy” (Liv Tyler) in Stealing Beauty by Bernardo Bertolluci; “Apollonia” in The Godfather 2; “La mort” in Roland Petit’s “Le jeune home et la mort” featuring Mikhail Baryshnikov. The most iconic “beauty” moment? Tony Leung Chiu Wai’s hair whipping around him like a stallion’s tail; in perfect unison with his paintbrush in the calligraphy scene from the movie “Hero”. I could go on...

F:What are your favorite cities? (list your favorite restaurants and shopping spots in each city).
C:As a former cultural correspondent for The Times of London and the Washington Post, I have lived everywhere from Montreal, to Mexico City, Cairo, Kampala, Dubai, Madrid, Barcelona, Florence, Paris, etc... and have traveled everywhere in between. Today I live in Paris because this is where my heart is. My husband and my son are here. But it is also the heart of the fashion industry, so I do count myself as lucky.

I have several restaurants that I am in love with, but they are discreet and I would rather that they stay that way.

My favorite store in the world is a bookstore. Rizzoli in New York. 7L in Paris is convenient because it has a fantastic edit of fashion and design books (it is Karl Lagerfeld's store after all) but any old dusty bookstore will do just fine, too.
There is also a Polish bookstore in Saint-Germain that I have always been curious about, but I don't speak Polish. Only, French, English, Spanish, and Italian. I wish I spoke Russian. It must be incredible to read Dostoievski in the language it was originally written... I feel the same way about Arabic poetry.

F:List 3 items that are always present in your bag?
C:Red lipstick.
Random coins in every currency.
My iPhone.
I always travel light even though I have a ten-month old baby and prefer to carry my Dior pochette. It doesn't fit a diaper, my husband kindly offers to carry that. I refuse to tote my son’s entire nursery along with me just because we have an outing. I want him to be curious about the world and in order to be curious you don’t lug a bag full of stuff from your home to keep you comfortable. Go out into the world, hands free.   

F:Blogs are very 'in' these days. Do you follow any fashion blogs?
C:Well, first of all, even though I write about trends and consider them to be fascinating cultural phenomena, I don’t always follow them. My tastes don't change with every season. I could lose hours surfing the net going from one blog to another, but I don’t have that kind of time. I go on the Coveteur every once and a while to see who the latest It girls are—though it’s probably considered a site more than a blog. I read the Financial Times’ blog, Style File from Style.com, and WWD’s news. I will check out The Sartorialist only if I hear that my friend is featured. A blog is a big responsibility and I respect the men and women who have the dedication to feed their blogs on a daily or even weekly basis.

F:Could you take pictures of 2 of your favorite outfits, an everyday look and a night out look.
I love jeans by Swedish label Cheap Monday and statement tees with a dose of humor. Photo by Tinko Czetwertynski. Paris.

This gold medallion belonged to my Great-Aunt Annie Maleszko. She was born in Poland and when she emigrated to Canada she had this made. The white eagle, or "Orzeł Biały" is from the National Coat of Arms of Poland which was adopted in 1295. Photo by Tinko Czetwertynski. Paris.

"I like a night look that showcases understated, natural elegance. What you say with your eyes should always supersede what you say with your dress." Photo by Tinko Czetwertynski. Paris.

Note: All the pictures used in this post are given to me exclusively by Caterina. For more information follow @CaterinaMinthe on Twitter.


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