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American Emily Johnston has made her mark in the London Fashion scene with her hugely successful blog Fashion Foie Gras. She founded the blog in 2009, and 9000 posts later her blog has become one of the most recognised in the fashion world. She also contributes to traditional publications Cosmopolitan, The Huffington Post, Glamour Magazine UK and Stylist Magazine. She recently came to Dubai to be on the judging panel the Grazia Style Awards 2014. She talks to Khaleej Times about style in the region and the rise of the blogs.
How did Fashion Foie Gras start?
I worked in public relations in London for 10 years. In my seventh year working for an auction house I started taking notice of blogs, and I saw that there was a real opportunity. There were conversations about fashion happening across the globe and I wanted to be a part of that. I didn’t really know where it was going to go. I was just doing it for myself and having fun. The readership grew really quickly and within two and half years I was forced to make a decision between my “real” job and doing the blog full-time.
What have you found interesting about Dubai, fashion-wise?
British designers have really been embraced here in Dubai. Superstars from London like Christopher Kane, Giles Deacon and Mary Katrantzou are really popular here. That’s been really interesting for me to see because I wasn’t really sure what to expect.I think what has surprised me the most is how mainstream it is in Dubai. There are so many American and British stores here. The first time I came here, I walked through Dubai Mall and felt like I was in the USA X12. But people who are on the scene here have marked out their boutique shops, and those stores really allow people to experiment with fashion and the best styles from around the globe.
What do you think of designers like Lamya Abedein who create chic and fashionable abaya?
I think if my tradition was to wear that ensemble on a daily basis, the first thing I’d want to do is glam it up. If you are given the opportunity to do that, and your traditions allow you to do that, you should. It’s awesome. It’s all about respecting your culture and if you can bling it up a little, then why not?
Some people think Dubai is miles behind the likes of New York and London is terms of strong fashion industry and style.
Dubai is still such a new city. Its fashion industry isn’t very old but the style is incredible. What you see flipping through magazines and walking down the street is pretty phenomenal. It’s a different style, but comparing even London and New York these days is a bit impossible. The only thing tying the places together is the style bloggers.
I also think the weather dictates what you can and can’t wear in the UAE. In New York you are dealing with negative temperatures so you to wear fur, big parkas and quilted vests in order to stay warm. You have so much to work with. If there’s any limitation here, it’s how hot it gets. You don’t have the opportunity to layer. The big thing in New York and London is being creative with how you layer. Here, you have to be really clever and choose a piece that makes the statement for you.
What is the region doing well?
I’m still learning about the region. I have been exposed to so much here in the UAE and I’m still taking everything in. There are many brands I would love to see come over to the UK and the US because I think they would do very well there. I really think that people are looking all over the world at different cat walks and picking and choosing different pieces and bringing them back into mainstream fashion weeks. I have also been really impressed with the style bloggers here. I find the people that put absolutely everything they have into their blogs have been the ones who have risen to the top.
Do you sometimes receive negative feedback when you tell someone you’re a blogger?
People often ask, “How on earth do you make a living?” In the beginning, fashion bloggers got a really bad name because a few people decided they wanted to sneak into front rows at fashion shows and get samples of bags from Chanel and Dior without doing any work. But that’s starting a blog for the wrong reasons. I can understand people’s reactions because it’s all so new. Anything that’s new is going to get a reaction from the establishment. But all the smart journalists have their own blog because they realize the future is online.
So you seem quite passionate about blogging in general?
I love the community. If I ever got married, a lot of bloggers would be there. I became good friends with Catherine Kallon from Red Carpet Fashion awards through Twitter; that’s actually how we met. I have made the best friends through blogging and I think it’s because we were all in this unknown space online at the same time.
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