We're sharing a car ride with one of the most photographed street-style stars in the world. She’s fresh-faced and incredibly smiley – even with the jetlag – and looks every inch the fashion icon.
Tiffany Hsu, the Tawainese-born, London-based, ready- to-wear Buying Manager for mytheresa.com, is one of the industry’s power players, and she’s here, in Dubai, on a fact-finding mission.
“You see, if we’re never here, we can never understand our customer,” she explains. “We need to get a real feel
for what they want and love. So we hosted a dinner with Burberry and The Dinner Club No.57 at Zabeel Park to meet and greet locals, influencers and editors.”
Tiffany’s outlook comes as no surprise. After all, there’s been a huge upsurge in interest from high-end brands, with everyone from Vuitton, Chanel, Dior and Tom Ford all investing heavily in the region.
So what’s been Tiffany’s take on the Middle Eastern fashion scene? “There’s a kind of elevated style. Everyone I’ve met has been well-informed, is on trend, and really knows what’s happening. They’re well-travelled, invest heavily in luxury and are educated in what they’re buying.” High praise, indeed. So are there any Middle Eastern labels she’s fallen for? “I’ve been following brands like Elie Saab for a while, and I also love Sandra Mansour, [who incidentally also worked for Saab],” Tiffany tells Grazia. “Her designs are young and unconventional; the fabrics she uses are always fresh. Because of her background, she knows the customers’ needs but also never forgets to be creative.”
Has she had the chance to hit any of our famous malls yet?“I haven’t been here long enough!” she laughs. “But I’m a real impulse buyer – sometimes purchasing for the sheer love of an item. It may mean I wear it only once per year, but that’s enough for me. I’m also super-excited by the jewellery scene. It’s such a big market, everyone knows their stuff, and there are some brilliant jewellery designers who have been recommended by locals or friends so watch this space!”
Speaking of locals, we ask Tiffany her thoughts on the region’s influencers... “I already knew some of them. We recently did a project with Karen Wazen Bakhazi for Roger Vivier where we shot her in Paris for a short fashion film. I’ve also loved Dana Hourani for a while; her style’s so cool. And at our event I met DJ Basil Al Hadi and even though I wouldn’t call him an influencer, he has such great style and is a truly unique person so I’ll be tapping the follow button on him as well.”
With over 52k Instafans herself, you’d be forgiven for thinking Tiffany is a social-media whizz. The kind with an Insta-husband in tow art directing the images, perhaps? “No, not at all!” she giggles, and adds, “My husband jokingly calls me, ‘fashion disaster,’ especially during fashion week where I tend to change outfits at least 5,000 times. I have wardrobe malfunctions and constantly panic about the look, and then, when I’m finally ready, I have to beg my husband to take a picture, I have to fight my way to his phone for him to do it!”
Like her career – she fell into buying – her Instagram success seems to be accidental rather than orchestrated. She admits that her fan base has been an “organic progression... slowly built over time, with probably more exposure when I started with mytheresa.com. My friends post every day, but I neglect my account – I’m too busy – and post once a week if I’m lucky!”
Even though Tiffany’s Insta is not a strategic operation, she thinks the posts that work well are the ones where the “scenery is nice” or that have “great composition,” Modestly adding, “it’s not necessarily all about me. Sometimes it’s about great timing or location. My holiday pictures seem to be popular. Brands that get the clicks are the statement-y looks from people like Vetements and Jacquemus.”
As we pull up to her hotel and bid farewell, she eyes up the skyline: “Everything is so sleek, so surprising and beautiful.” Well doesn’t she seem to have a grasp of Dubai already? We couldn’t agree more.
Images: Supplied and courtesy of @ahuypham, @sandrasemburg and @thebartlett