I interviewed the gorgeous Diala Makki for Pashion Magazine couple of years ago. I have had the pleasure to sit across many leading ladies, influencers and women in power, but not all inspire awe and even fewer make a lasting impression. Makki was one of those rare ones; I was coordinating the cover shoot for magazine as well, and was amazed as although she had a fracture foot, nothing was ‘pushing it too far’ for her. She took Rami Ali’s vision and delivered it beautifully under his direction.
Before we go on to the interview, let me introduce Diala Makki for those who might need a little refresher – She is a media personality, TV host, and journalist. Born in Tehran to a Lebanese father and an Iranian mother, Makki was raised in Tyre and has a master’s degree in International Affairs. Although she started her modelling career at 16, Makki rose to fame with her weekly entertainment show, Studio 24, for Dubai TV, where she covered major film festivals, including Cannes, Venice, and Berlin film festivals. From 2009 until 2011, Makki hosted two seasons of Najm Al Khaleej, the Gulf version of American Idol, and also hosted Taratata, the biggest Arabic music talk show. She subsequently acted in two films, La Tahkom Ala Mowdao Min Khelal Al Sora in 2013 and Rise in 2014, both directed by Ali F. Mostafa. In 2015 and 2016, Makki was named in Arabian Business magazine’s feature 100 Most Powerful Arabs Under 40. Currently, Makki hosts a fashion documentary lifestyle prime time show on Dubai TV, Mashaheer.
You started when you were young and so was the industry. How did you manage to do things that you did?
I started in Beirut with a fashion program, interviewing models, designers, celebrities, etc. This was even before I went to university. I realized that I love working in media and went to pursue it academically. I graduated from the American University in Film & Journalism, and did my Masters in International Affairs.
Nine years ago, I got an offer from Dubai TV to host first-of-its-kind entertainment show, covering film festivals, red carpets, traveling around the world and interviewing infamous celebrities. It was a lot of responsibility, as I was rather young, and was competing with the big guys from E! Entertainment, Reuters and such. It was very exciting and challenging.
And then Mashaheer happened…
I loved entertainment but fashion journalism was my true calling, so I went back to it with Mashaheer – this is where I interviewed Karl Lagerfeld, Elie Saab, Carolina Herrera; everyone from Pucci to Gucci, Chanel and Fendi.
A little birdie told us there are a few exciting projects for you in near future. Can you talk to me about them?
September and October are very important months for me. We are launching Fashion Dairies with Diala Makki, which is a series of fashion documentaries, shot around the world. I am presenting and co-producing it with Signature Productions and Dubai TV, and so far we have Chanel, Bulgari, Dior, Armani and some other interesting names on board. It is done on international standards, and is something Arab world has never seen before. We will show the human side of brands to our viewers, in an educational and inspirational way. They will be surprised to see that some of the most beautiful watches are actually carved in scenic villages of Switzerland, by artisans who used to be farmers. It will be launched on Dubai TV as a beginning platform.
How did you manage to bag these brands for Arabic TV?
It was challenging. But I had worked with them previously and had built a rapport where they could trust me, and allow me in their workshops and headquarters. Our format is so convincing that brands like Bulgari, who had never agreed to do documentaries before, said yes to us. We did a lot of research about the brands, their DNA, their ethos and journey to date, and invested an equal amount of time and effort is post production to ensure our program is of international standards.
And it made it clearer than ever before that we desperately need educated, trained and skilled professionals in this industry. People who understand fashion. These are times of #ootd and there is an overdose of fashion bloggers. I was sick of witnessing fashion industry turning into what it is not. It’s not about ‘what I wore’ pictures on Instagram and ‘Get the Look’ photos; it’s not about wearing a beautiful dress and calling yourself a fashionista. It’s a very, very superficial approach to the fashion. I see a lot of young people interested in the industry but do not put in the time or research their subject at all. With Fashion Diaries, I hope to make it more substantial. My documentaries will be available on DDs and hopefully in fashion schools one day.
That will be fantastic. You have played such a tremendous role in placing Dubai on international fashion map…
I hope I have. Getting approvals from such brands has been a great feedback for all my efforts. To be honest, we did consider buying an international format for Fashion Diaries while we were researching for the show in initial phase. We have Project Runway – Arabic Version, Pop Idol – Arabic Version, E-Entertainment – Arabic Version. It’s much easier. But then, why should we take it from outside when we have such amazing talent here? We are the most fashionable city in the Arab world and have all that it takes. Dubai has done so much for me and this was my opportunity to return the love. Thus, we decided to produce locally and then make it international one day. This time, Arab will drive it. It’s risky but it will be worth it.
And you are launching an online magazine as well, right?
Yes, we are also launching www.fashiondiaries.com, and I will be the Fashion Editor for it. It will be rich in terms of content and fashion awareness, and will have an engaging look and feel. Fresh off the runways from around the world, backstage access, latest news, interviews, etc. We will also be inviting seasoned bloggers to write and share their opinions. It will launch in October and I promise very high standard of content.
Favorite local designer: Rami Al Ali
Fashion Idol: Gabrielle Chanel
Personal Style: Moody but classic
Beauty must: Take care of skin (SPF 100, no sun, Mesotherapy, vitamin C shots), body (gym and yoga) and hair.
Lucky Charm: I made my own luck
High Moment of your career: Launch of Fashion Diaries
Worst Moment in your career: When I broke my leg two months ago
Hidden talents: I can act some and play piano
Biggest Vice: Big spender
Love of your life: My career
Love is: Companionship
Your world in 3 words: Exciting, challenging and lonely
Ultimate dream: Have an inspiring legacy
Advice to newcomers: Stay grounded