Is this woman Dubai's secret Insta-starmaker?

Meet Sarah Isa, the impossibly cool Dubai-based stylist behind your favourite influencers' looks...
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Is this woman Dubai's secret Insta-starmaker?

Dima Al Sheikhly

We've all got one, haven't we? That Insta starlet we follow who never puts a foot wrong in the wardrobe department, whose immaculate outfit curation is wonderous to behold, and whose ability to source bang on-trend, impossible-to-find vintage pieces is nothing short of sartorial sorcery. There's four that we can think of off the top of our heads - Rania Fawaz, Ola Farahat, Fatima Al Momen and Dima Al Sheikhly - whose personal style was already exceptional, but skyrocketed with the help of one super-talented super-stylist; Sarah Isa. Or, as we like to call her, the Insta Starmaker.

We sat down with this Dubai-based Montréal native to pick her brain about what it takes to stand out in the (insta) crowd...

Two of Sarah's clients, Dima Al Sheikhly and Rania Fawaz

Tell us your story so far...

I was born and raised in Montréal, lived in Toronto for a few years and have been in Dubai now for almost two. I got into styling through the music industry at 19 years old when I was part of M.I.A.’s music video for Bad Girls. I started shadowing her stylist, Melanie Ashley and watching what her job entailed and fell in love with it.

On the set of M.I.A's Bad Girls music video

After fashion school, I decided to take the risk by going to LA and assisting Iggy Azalea’s stylist, Alejandra Hernandez who taught me the importance of a great work ethic and what it takes to have a quality final product. It wasn’t until moving to Dubai that I got more comfortable taking on clients to refine their personal style and incorporate what I’ve seen in my years of traveling and from experiencing the different cultures from the places I’ve lived in.

With M.I.A's stylist Melanie Ashley

What marks you out as different from other stylists - both in the UAE and globally?

I’d say I have a great balance between both my heritage and where I grew up - North America and North Africa - which I love to incorporate into my styling. I love to learn from different perspectives and combine being feminine and elegant but still relatable and trendy. Personal styling is my main hub but I’ve worked on editorials for magazines including my local favourite, Grazia!

Sarah styled Ola Farahat for the cover of Grazia Middle East last year

What’s your signature?

My signature would have to be making vintage look new. I love bringing back that old-school energy but keeping it current.

Sarah Isa

What do you think of both the style scene here in the UAE and the local design talent?

I’m definitely seeing a change and a step up when it comes to young people finding their own voice and ways to express themselves through fashion in the UAE. I’m loving everyone taking risks and being trendsetters for the rest of the world. It’s also super fun to style clients in local designers that you see out and about around the city like Lama Jouni and Shabab INTL.

Rania Fawaz slaying at fashion week

How much do you take social media into consideration when styling a look?

I try not to go on social media as much just to keep my mind and creativity as authentic and personal as it can be. However, reading positive feedback about your own work never hurts!

Rania Fawaz in one of Sarah's looks

Do you think you’re responsible, at least in part, to any of your clients’ social-media success?

I think the teamwork is what improves all of my clients social-media success... the way we work together and how they trust me when trying new things and taking them out of their comfort zone is amazing.

Fatima Al Momen

What designers and influencers are on your radar as the next big thing?

My favourite designers/influencers at the moment and who I mostly follow on social media include London-based Ashley Williams, Danielle Guizio and LA-based Aleali who is responsible for my favourite pair of Jordan 1s.

Dima Al Sheikhly

Photos: Supplied