Natalia Shustova's Shoe Obsession

Natalia Shustova is the burgeoning style influencer taking Dubai by storm. We caught up with the shoe-loving lawyer in our May issue and now we’re taking a closer look inside her wardrobe.

Natalia Shustova in her glamorous home
Natalia Shustova in her glamorous home

Were you interested in fashion as a child?

I was usually wearing some combination from my mum’s and dad’s wardrobe - I liked putting things together.

Did anyone inspire you growing up?

My grandma was so stylish, even until she was very old, and she was always trying to be super different - having people working under her outfits. This is something that I think I do specifically.

Some of the stylish surprises in Natalia Shustova's wardrobe

What does style mean to you?

Style is not something that you can buy. It is something that you can develop and it should be absolutely unique. Style is basically you.

How do you express yourself through fashion?

Being a creative person, I make half of my clothes myself. I make lots of hair accessories, hat accessories and love to do something quirky with my bags - but I can't do shoes. For me it’s magic.

Step into the style icon's home

When did your obsession with shoes begin?

My first pair of designer shoes were Giorgio Armani sandals, which in my opinion were the most beautiful shoes in the world - they were wooden and green. After that the sickness started and now I’m buying three or four pairs a month. But being addicted to shoes has given me the opportunity to meet so many amazing designers and they are all magicians.

What’s been your favourite moment with shoes?

In my shoe life there are so many magical stories happening every single day, the very latest one happened with SJP shoes. I met her for three minutes in Bloomingdale's when she was here and I was standing in the queue with a thousand other people. I had my three minutes with her and she asked me: ‘did you buy the shoes?’ I said: ‘No, because you don’t have my size in store’ and she said: ‘Ok, someone make her these shoes’ - that was it. Two months later I received them from Sarah Jessica Parker, size 42 in the colour of her lipstick that doesn’t exist anywhere else - it was made just for me. It’s a story that I’m keeping close for years. 

Summertime Stories: Amar Zahr

Laura Beaney

August 14th 2017
Amar Zahar photographed by Colette Alexa in the Lebanese mountains
Amar Zahar photographed by Colette Alexa in the Lebanese mountains.

In May 2013, I made the decision to drop everything. I dropped my corporate job, familiar routine, and comfort zone to embark on the biggest change of my life. I was working in media at the time, but my heart was torn between developing my practice as an artist and working in contemporary art. I had heard about artist residency programmes in the past but didn’t fully understand their function or impact on both society and individuals alike. On a whim I applied to a programme in Istanbul, which is, for me, one of the most inspiring cities. I didn’t have a strong ne arts background, exhibition history or even a de nitive practice, but I anticipated that a residency would help me gure out who I was as an artist.

As the date approached, I prepared for practically everything; I had planned what I wanted to spend the next two months working on and had pitched the project to the residency who seemed very keen on supporting me. Upon arriving to this heaping dichotomy of East-meets- West, inspiration was owing and I nally had the time, space and right amount of isolation to focus on myself and my art.

A week into my project, the 2013 Gezi Park riots erupted across Istanbul. With the residency just a stone’s throw away from the park, I had no choice but to bear witness to the upheaval. The whole city came alive in a way that was both terrifying and invigorating. The staff and friends that I had met during my rst days at the residency were demonstrating on the streets day and night. Being Lebanese, and barely involved in the politics of my own city, I felt completely out of place and kept a safe distance from the demonstrations.

One day, tear gas seeped through the fastened windows while I was painting in my ground oor studio. That was when I realised I could no longer isolate myself from the chaos enwreathing the walls around me, and I didn’t want to. Armed with nothing but a Canon 5D, I joined the revolutionaries and took to the streets. The work I created during the experience was inextricably linked from the protests and wouldn’t have been conceived without it. This experience not only took me completely out of my comfort zone but it also shaped what I wanted to do in the future. Two years later I founded the Beirut Art Residency, which aims to bring international artists to Lebanon, take them out of their comfort zone and facilitate an environment where they can be as inspired as I was.


Summertime Stories: Rose Balston

Laura Beaney

August 9th 2017
Summertime Stories Rose Balston
Summertime Stories: Rose Balston

I spend a large amount of time in art museums. Whenever I visit new cities, the museum tends to be the first port of call. In cities I know well and love, the great museums – such as the National Gallery in London – become second homes and I pass hours getting to know works I haven’t met before, or luxuriating with old friends, discovering new nuances of character. In these spaces, I know what to expect – paintings, sculpture, installation or video art, presented in a beautiful and reverential way. Occasionally you find tour groups standing in front of the work discussing it; sometimes ropes cordon the viewer from getting too close; sometimes the work is interactive and you are encouraged to participate with it; sometimes it is behind glass or within a frame; sometimes you can walk around it and view it from every angle. But invariably there is an object as a focal point with which we are supposed to interact.

One of the most impactful personal moments with art museums happened a couple of weeks ago. It was not in Paris, New York or Florence as one might expect, but on the tiny island of Teshima, in the Seto Inland Sea of Japan. The Teshima Art Museum is part of a collective called the Benesse Art Site Naoshima. On the nearby island of Naoshima, this collective showcases world class art by Monet, Giacometti, David Hockney, Basquiat, Anthony Caro, Cy Twombly, Richard Long, Walter de Maria, Antony Gormley, Yayoi Kusama, James Turrell and many more, in sublimely designed buildings by Tadao Ando and in beautiful natural spaces across the island. On a quiet island, just an hour’s boat journey from Naoshima, the Teshima Art Museum is designed by architect Ryue Nishizawa, and is discreetly submerged within a hill overlooking the Seto Inland Sea.

Looking forward to seeing the art inside, we made the slow, beautiful pilgrimage from the ticket office along a twisting path that leads you through a bosky wood, past a sighting of the village down on the shoreline below, and to the entrance of the museum, where you are asked to remove your shoes before entering. Reverentially walking in, as if into a Shinto shrine or Buddhist temple, it became immediately clear this was not the kind of museum that I have spent the past two decades of my life experiencing. This was something wildly – sublimely – different. The building aims to resemble a water droplet at the moment of landing. As we entered, we encountered a vast open space, with two oval openings in the shell allowing the sun, rain, wind and indeed birds, insects and leaves, into the space. Where was the art? Discreet to the point of invisibility, there was a single minimalist site-specific installation by sculptor Rei Naito: tiny droplets of water would rise up from the natural springs below through mini holes in the ground to form lakes of water, constantly shifting and moving, guided by the wind that enters the space. But beyond this, there was nothing hanging on the wall, no sculptures on the floor – no objects at all to worship and commune with. Just a seemingly limitless and utterly tranquil spherical space within which we could consider the natural world around us and its astonishing potential for harmony with architecture.

The day we were there, the sun beat through the oval openings, casting Pantheon-like discs of light on the ground below. I long to go back and visit the building when there is a howling gale outside, or a thunderstorm and vertical rain. The place changes according to the light and weather – but I suspect it will always generate feelings of surprise, harmony and profundity. Never again will I go into a museum and assume I know what is coming. The Teshima Art Museum has stripped me of these expectations and forced me to consider museum design afresh. It could not be a more exciting position to be in.


Summer Travel with Latifa Al Gurg

Emirati-Danish designer Latifa Al Gurg, founder of the fashion brand Twisted Roots, is deeply inspired by travel, having visited various cities across the entire globe. Her contemporary womenswear label is inspired by this insatiable wanderlust, with each piece meticulously handmade in an intimate studio and showroom space in Al Quoz, Dubai. Here, she tells MOJEH about her design process and travel plans.

Summer Travel with Latifa Al Gurg

How has your mixed heritage influenced your design aesthetic?

Both heritages have greatly influenced my perspective on fashion and design. My Scandinavian heritage has taught me an appreciation for minimal silhouettes and layering, while my Emirati heritage has taught me about the love of textiles and the finer details that make all the difference.

How does travel influence fashion design?

Travel completely influences my collections. Every season is inspired by a city or country. I love discovering new cultures and places. It always inspires me to express some aspect of these places in my designs.

What are your travel plans for the summer?

I’ve just come back from London where we launched our ‘Savannah’ collection at Fenwick on Bond Street, so our summer this year was both an amazing work opportunity as well as a bit of a break.

What’s your favourite summer holiday destination?

There are so many. It’s so hard to choose. Of course, I always love going back to Denmark because it reminds of the summers of my childhood, but I also love discovering new places. One of my favorite recent destinations was Spain. We had an amazing time, starting in Barcelona and then touring all of Andalucía.

What’s your favourite hotel in Cordoba?

We stayed at this beautiful hotel called Hotel Hospes Palacio del Bailio. It’s a beautiful old manor that has a glass floor in the central courtyard where you find the remains of an ancient Roman villa. The hotel is a story across the centuries. It’s beautiful.

What’s your favourite restaurant in Cordoba?

During that same trip, we visited the Dali Museum in Girona and we had the most amazing ice cream at Rocambolesc. It’s a small place, but the whole vibe makes you feel like a kid in a candy store. I especially loved the panet stuffed with baked apple ice cream, dulce de leche and shortbread.

What are your five must-haves when travelling?

  • A notebook with a plan of what I’d like to do and see.
  • At least one vest (waistcoat). Perfect for layering over a basic Tee for a casual look or a simple silk blouse for the evening.
  • Whatever I’m reading at the moment.
  • My travel steamer. It’s become one of my essentials over the last couple of years.
  • A pair of Converse sneakers. They’re my go-to travel shoes.

The 'Savannah’ collection by Twisted Roots

Things To Do For August

MOJEH’s favourite local tastemaker shares their summer travel plans and favourite international hotspots. 

Image courtesy of roseminsworld
Image courtesy of @roseminsworld

Rosemin Manji Travel Guide 

Summer travel plans.

South of France (Cannes, Monaco, Nice), London, Toronto and New York. 

Travel essentials.

Yon-Ka Phyto Contour Eye Cream, Tumi luggage, cashmere cardigan and Aquazzura flats.

Recommendations For NYC.

Stay: Baccarat Hotel if you like upper east side or NOMO hotel if you like SOHO. 

Gallery: Whitney Museum of American Art in New York 

Food: Le Coucou restaurant in New York

Airport Entertainment.

Awaken The Giant Within by Tony Robbins 

Song on Repeat.

Love On The Brain by Rihanna 

Image courtesy of daliansouli
Image courtesy of @daliansouli

Mariam Yeya Travel Guide

Summer travel plans.

Barcelona, Lebanon, Mykonos and Egyptian North Coast.

Travel essentials.

Swimsuits with cover ups, hair curler, camera, Mac eyebrow pen, Sephora mascara and Golden Goose sneakers.

Recommendations for Egypt.

Stay: Hacienda Beach Resort.

Lunch spot: Kiki's Beach Club.

Best seafood: Samakmak Restaurant.

Airport Entertainment.

Songs by Tracy Chapman, Leonar Cohen and Maroon 5.


Image courtesy of mrskeepa
Image courtesy of @mrskeepa

Dalia Nsouli Travel Guide

Summer travel plans.

I went to Sicily in Eid with my father, brother, sister and son, and it was incredible. Everything Italian is just so good. I'm also going to France in early September with my family again. 

Travel essentials.

Sunscreen, vintage Levi's 501 shorts, my Ancient Greek sandals or rubber Havaianas, a straw beach tote, and a power bank for my iPhone. 

Recommendations for Paris.

Food: Zen Kitchen Galerie, Daraco and L'ami Louis.

Boutique: I still love Le Bon Marche, the best in Paris but also love a boutique shop called Merci.

Gallery: Louis Vuitton Foundation and Galleries Xippas.

Airport Entertainment.

Mask Off by Future and Something Just like this Coldplay x The Chainsmokers and Location by Khalid. 


Remembering Maryam Mirzakhani

Remembering Maryam Mirzakhani

Famed female mathematician and devoted mother and wife, Maryam Mirzakhani passed away on Saturday after a battle with breast cancer. Born and raised in Iran, Mirzakhani was the first female to compete with Iran’s International Mathematical Olympiad team, winning a gold medal in 1994 and two in 1995.

Following her graduation from Tehran's Sharif University of Technology, Maryam moved to the United States to study for a PhD at Harvard University.  Fondly known by her peers and colleagues as the 'Queen of Mathematics', Mirzakhani was awarded the prestigious Fields Medal in 2014 for her work on geometry and dynamical systems and was both the first female and Iranian recipient of the medal since its inception in 1936.

An inspirational and humble leader in the male-dominated world of maths and science, Mirzakhani's achievements have undoubtedly inspired countless women across the globe. 

Born to Run: Jeddah Running Collective

Laura Beaney

July 12th 2017

It’s the most natural form of exercise, programmed into our DNA from our time spent as cavemen both hunting, and escaping as hunted prey. It costs nothing to practice and in countries like Africa, it’s often performed, barefoot with all but the slightest equipment needed to participate. One memorable example is Ethiopia’s Abebe Bikila, who shoeless, coach-less and with very little experience, won the marathon during the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome.

In spite of its ease and inherent sense of freedom, for many women running is not a granted gift. Females in Saudi Arabia, while undoubtedly making progress in participating in sports, are still up against some serious constraints. During the 2016 Rio Olympics four women represented their country, an improvement from the two who competed in 2012, but inside KSA, societal restrictions still hamper access to sports for its female inhabitants.

Until August 1 2016, women were not allowed to attend or participate in national tournaments or state-organised sports. However, in a positive move, the General Authority for Sports announced a new female department and appointed the widely respected Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud as its head. Yet, in spite of this, Saudi’s women remain restricted from sports infrastructure; the Saudi National Olympic Committee does not have a women’s section, and females still cannot participate in national tournaments. Born out of a desire to level the score, a bold new movement is rapidly gaining momentum in the Kingdom and seeks to overcome these gender obstacles, one run at a time. “I came across a post on Instagram highlighting a group called the Jeddah Running Collective. It was inviting and encouraging people to join the ‘Hustle Tuesday’,” explains certified trainer, Raghad Almarzouki who balances a career in finance with her passion for outdoor pursuits like hiking and climbing. “I didn’t believe that they were a real thing, but I was so excited by the idea of a group of people running in Jeddah, that I decided to check it out. I was curious.”

An unorthodox running crew, meeting three times a week for the aforementioned ‘Hustle Tuesday’ – a session otherwise known as beginner’s night, Ladies Night Sunday and Longshot Saturday, that starts with a long distance stint and culminates with coffee at Jeddah’s Medd Café, the profile of its members spans all different backgrounds, ethnicities, genders and levels of experience. “We are not a running club,” explains its director, Nesreen Ghonaim who recently completed her first triathlon in Muscat and finished in second place. “We started JRC to create a place to share our infatuation with running and its transformative powers.” The Collective doesn’t break any state laws per se, but they have faced opposition from the religious police and more conservative members of the community. Weaving their way across the region’s mountainous terrain, pounding the desert sand or city streets, for the JRC, Jeddah has become an urban playground, its expansive open spaces and concrete pathways become race tracks for mixed groups – something its inhabitants haven’t experienced before.

Indeed there’s a meditative quality associated with putting one foot in front of the other and hearing the soles hit the pavement, but there’s also an element of subversion. When you suspend the rules of running on the street there’s something poetic in the notion of senses being freed up and let loose, considering Saudi Arabia’s stringent rules. “Hejaz Ultra has been one of the most challenging courses with its hills, rocks, sand, heat, and never-ending trail,” says Al-Batool Baroom who ran her first half marathon just 10 days after joining JRC. “There was one time we went for a training run and I found myself with the fast group, I guess I got a little excited and didn’t pace myself, after a while I couldn’t keep up. At that point the other group was too far behind and I couldn’t see them. The fear of getting lost somewhere in the desert forced me to push myself to keep up to reach the first checkpoint. It was probably one of the toughest runs I had to endure.” 

Born out of a desire to level the score, a bold new movement is rapidly gaining momentum in the Kingdom and seeks to overcome these gender obstacles, one run at a time

While open to both genders, JRC encourages women, in particular, to get moving, but for them the challenges far exceed the typical physical demands associated with the sport. Saudi’s female runners must be prepared to sweat. 

“Running in an Abaya with the intense summer temperatures and humidity is very challenging,” says Arwa Alamoudi another runner who first picked up her trainers while she was studying in Illinois and went on to participate in races across the state. But in Saudi, running in an Abaya has become a symbol for both personal and social change with the hashtag #RunningInAbaya propelled across the JRC social media accounts. And the positive momentum they have generated is building fast. JRC was founded in 2013 followed by collectives in Riyadh (2016) and Medina and Khobar in 2017. “The scene is rapidly evolving,” says Baroom. “There are more people joining every day. It’s amazing to see how many women have joined us at JRC alone. It started with less than a handful but last month we announced that we were organising a female race, and more than 700 women signed up in Jeddah!”

A catalyst for connectivity between its members and offering them the chance to explore their city anew, the existence of a group like the JRC might seem unremarkable to most other cities, but in Saudi Arabia’s conservative climate its socially contagious appeal helps women to contest their status quo. “I strongly believe that we are making huge strides as a nation,” enthuses Baroom. “The JRC helps to cultivate that culture. We may be small, but we are game changers and pioneers, we hope to inspire women everywhere. If we, your average public, can do it in a very restrictive environment, then others have no excuse.” 

Introducing Joëlle Dinnage

Set to take place at the Armani Hotel in the grandiose Burj Khalifa in mid-November, the inaugural edition of the world’s first ever Global Art Awards will pay tribute to the outstanding works of various artists from across the creative-mottled globe.

The cutting-edge woman spearheading the highly anticipated event, which will recognise the creative world’s most excellent and innovative, is none other than Joëlle Dinnage, Dutch award-winning entrepreneur, and international art dealer. 

Having long been an eager advocate and supporter of the skyrocketing cultural and artistic talent here in the Middle East, the Global Art Awards will culminate in an extraordinary and glamorous red carpet Gala event that’s already been dubbed the ‘Oscars of the Visual Arts’.

Dinnage herself graduated from the prestigious Saint Lucas Art Academy in the Netherlands, and relocated to London after winning the young business Entrepreneur Award. In 2010, she started her first business; an online art space, which she entitled The Funky Art Gallery. Her venture specialised in street art and quickly became Google’s number one ranking for ‘Cool Art’ both in the UK and the US.

The following year, Joëlle also joined forces with with Barcelona businesswoman Natal Vallvé, and together they founded the Global Art Agency. With offices based both in both London and Dubai, it is through this company that Dinnage has revealed the extravaganza that is the Global Art Awards.

It-Girl Eid Festivities

As this year’s Eid festivities come to an end, we hope to vicariously live through the inspiring imagery of these Middle Eastern It-girls, vloggers and YouTubers who have inspired both our style and travel itineraries for the month ahead. 

Meryl Streep Turns 68

Meryl Streep has spent four decades in the limelight, having won three highly-elusive Oscars, an American Film Institute Life Achievement Award, and just about every other gilded statue that can be bestowed upon Hollywood’s most elite stars and starlets.