Home Behind the brand Up close with Lara Tabet

Up close with Lara Tabet

by Out and About Mag.

Lara TabetLara Tabet

Tell us a bit about yourself

I’m Lara Tabet. Most people in the UAE have probably seen me or heard me in a TV interview, as I’ve worked with the media industry for most of my career. I consider myself an artist with a penchant for all things elegant and refined. I’ve established myself firmly in the beautifully chaotic and glamorous world of television, fashion and media in the Middle East, but most especially here in Dubai—the region’s melting pot of diverse cultures and tastes.

Our family originally hails from Lebanon, but I grew up in Dubai, which I consider as my true home. I’ve experienced what it’s like to live in different countries. I’ve resided in the US for two years, and in the UK for four years. I undertook my university degree in Switzerland, where I stayed for three years while studying Hotel Management. 

I came back to Dubai to work for my father, an entrepreneur and owner of a group of hotels in Dubai, London and Lebanon. I then went on to get married and had my two boys, Roberto and Antonio. 

I have been working in the media industry for more than a decade now. It’s by far the most exciting time of life, growing and establishing myself a household name. For ten years, I was involved in a variety of shows, loving the flair and colours of the popular media, fashion scene and lifestyle segments. I decided to take a break because my kids were getting older, so I stayed home with them for two years until they completed their International Baccalaureate. 

Not too long after my break from the media industry, I was invited by different luxury brands to be a brand ambassador. To date, I’ve associated with Michael Brüggler watches from Zurich, Margy’s Monte Carlo luxury skincare line from Monaco, Esmeralda Luxury Real Estates, William Wagner pendulum clocks, and The Arab Fashion Council, who I also work with as its official spokesperson. Under my official umbrella, LuxuryWithLara, I represent different brands, and I love every single one of them.

How would you describe your style?

Rarity and authenticity are qualities that I highly prize, and for this reason, I’ve always been enamoured with haute couture fashion. At 18, I dreamt of being a fashion designer. My dad actually supported me when I was on the verge of starting a project, but at the last minute, I did have a change of heart! The world of aviation is promising, I thought, so I embarked on a journey to get there while working with my dad in the hospitality industry.

I love haute couture—the long gowns, the glamour, the improbably ethereal designs from the world’s best-gifted fashion designers. Among my favourite designers are Elie Saab and Zuhair Murad. For prêt-à-porter look, I definitely love Zahra. I consider myself a trendy person who never misses out. When I'm not into my haute couture mode, Zahra is definitely the way to go. 

I also love Maje, a French brand with incredibly pretty and chic designs, and even Barbie-style dresses — they are awesome. I also like sporting Melon, which features designs with executive impressions. My style, deconstructing my tastes, is a combination of prêt-à-porter and a bit of haute couture. I also believe that it’s important—and necessary—to feel comfortable in your clothes. 

Five beauty products you can’t live without?

I'm going to start with what I use for maintaining my hair silky and manageable because the hair is the crowning glory of a woman! Two years ago, I discovered this miracle hair ‘salve’Revlon Leave-In Conditioner. I’ve hoarded a whole cupboard of this conditioner for fear that this elixir for the locks might run out! I apply it after every shower, smoothing and detangling any unruly strands. I love for the hairbrush to slide effortlessly when I’m combing, and to have a sleek shine after blow-drying. So definitely, this is number one on my list! The second one on my list is for the eyes, and I think I can’t live without it: Benefits black eyeliner! I don't know what I’d do if they ever changed or discontinued it. Same thoughts with Mac Studio Fix Fluid, specifically of the colour NC40 that fits my skin shade perfectly, and its compact powder version, the MAC Studio Fix Powder. And falsies! Yes, my false eyelashes, which I totally cannot live without, like it's a part of me. Lastly, I definitely adore Reminiscence Patchouli, my favourite fragrance that speaks about my sophisticated vibe as a career woman: elegant, intense, powerful and influential.

Best beauty product of all time?

Oh, I have only one in mind, and yes, I’ve also shared it with you in my previous answer: it’s the ethereally beautiful French fragrance known as Reminiscence Patchouli which was launched here in Dubai in 1970. Most women in Dubai dons this fragrance; it has a beautifully sweet exotic appeal that feels very Arabian, yet surprisingly French-like. I don’t think any patchouli fragrance can rival its splendour and enigmatic ubiquity.

Patchouli is an aromatic herb with an intense, earthy quality, which makes for a long-lasting fragrance, and a highly-impressionable one. I used to get stopped in London and New York, with people stopping me in the streets to say, “Excuse me, what fragrance are you wearing?” It’s incredibly appealing, and so for me, this is the product of all time! I wear it almost on the daily, and even after a couple of years, I don’t think I will get tired of its allure. I’ll continue to use it for as long as I live, except when the time comes that I’ll have to create my own fragrance, which is something I look forward to doing!

How did you first get your start in media?

On an unexpected day, I received a phone call telling me that they're setting up the first English language channel in the region known as INTV, and they're looking for a TV presenter. I told them that I have nothing to do with television or the world of media. I'm a hotelier by profession, and that's what I do. They've been asking around in Dubai, and they told me that many people are recommending me for the job: an ideal and perfect TV presenter. “So could you come in for a casting?” I told them yes, but little did I expect that it was the beginning of my career in media and TV. Then for ten years, I produced and presented in seven shows of my own. One of these shows, Societe, was the most popular show in the region and also a personal favourite of mine. In Societe, I had the opportunity of interviewing over 4,000 celebrities from the local and international scene, mainly from Arab Cinema, Hollywood and Bollywood. 

Another one of my shows, The Hotel Show, featured hotel owners of major five-star hotels in the region. I also hosted a once-a-year show for yacht owners in the Yacht Show, together with its founder, where big yacht brands were showcased as well. Among other shows are In the Know, highlighting the recent trends and launches in jewellery, sports, cars and fashion, and Article Chair, showcasing art galleries, gallery owners, and artists both locally and internationally.

How has the media changed since you first started?

In the UAE, the world of media has significantly changed on a progressive, modern sense. In the past, we were slightly more restricted. Today, thanks to the Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, he has created a more open culture allowing more expression, and through his vision, he's probably created the most beautiful and vibrant metropolis in the world. 

With regards to local programming, unfortunately, many segments have been eliminated from a number of TV stations here in the region, be it NBC, Dubai Fashion TV, or City 7 TV. City 7 TV closed down recently, but even Dubai TV has reduced the local programming. And as we know, local programming is all about the glitz and glamour of Dubai, promoting what Dubai has to offer. Big events that are hosted in Dubai, like the Davos conference, which takes place here on a regular basis, or the World Tolerance Summit, or other big exhibitions that are regularly taking place here in the region, are frequently featured in the local programming.

So I’d say there's less local programming, but more towards business and tourism. That's how the world of media has changed before my very eyes, whether it's the Arabic media or the English media, and whether it's print publication or TV stations. And of course, as we know, the whole world is going online, so there are fewer TV programs and more online channels. 

The favourite quote you live by?

My favourite quote is to live every day like it's your last. Make the best out of every second that you have in this world because life is beautiful; it has so much to offer. Carpe diem!

Top career tip? 

My top career tip for anybody out there is, never surrender, never give up. You'll face a lot of obstacles and challenges along the way. Don't let anything stop you and don't listen to negativity. Don't listen to people telling you that you can't or that you're not going to make it. You have a passion. You have a vision. You have targets and goals: pursue them and try to fulfil them. You might fail, but learn to stand up again and continue because you'll make it at the end. If you have the passion and drive, with hard work and determination, you'll definitely make it.

Tell us about G-Hospitality.

G-Hospitality is a hospitality company that's been around for over 40 years. It's owned by a Lebanese family known as the Farha family. Basically, the company operates award-winning restaurants. One of their restaurants which features authentic Lebanese cuisine is Al Mandaloun, a top Lebanese restaurant in Bldg. No. 3, DIFC, which is regularly frequented by Royals, bank owners and DIFC businessmen. 

G-Hospitality is also known for operating Tomo, one of the highly-rated Japanese restaurants in Dubai. Tomo is the Japanese word for ‘lifelong friend’. Make sure to try this Japanese restaurant located on the 17th floor of the Raffles Hotel, where you can also dine with the stunning view of Dubai skyline. Tomo imports their fresh fish and other Japanese ingredients from Japan on a regular basis. The marination technique that they use is unique. Chef Nobu himself is a regular there, and 90% of their clientele are Japanese nationals residing in the region. 

The company also operates a franchise of the renowned Entrecote Cafe' de Paris located in Dubai Mall, Shangri-La Hotel Dubai and Souk Qaryat Al Beri in Abu Dhabi. Entrecote is a Swiss brand from Geneva famous for the secret ingredients that lie in the butter sauce. The set menu consisting of steak with butter sauce, fries on the side and delicious salad is a must-try! Entrecot’s delectable desserts are also a hit, like their profiteroles. Prior to operating these top-rated restaurants, the owner of G Hospitality used to own a group of hotels here in the region, including London and Lebanon. Currently, I work on doing business development for them. 

Tell us about the brands that you back and why?

LuxuryWithLara represents many brands that reflect my personal tastes. I also do business development for the brands that I work with, besides being the face of the brand.

Firstly, I’m very proud to be associated with Michael Brüggler watches from Zurich, Switzerland. Michael Brügggler is a renowned watchmaker, and interestingly, he is also one of the leading polo players in the region. His watch designs are unique and customisable. You are free to set your own preferences when it comes to many aspects of the design like the strap material, strap colour, dial, and even the diamonds! Your customised watch will be delivered to you wherever you are in four to six weeks.

I also have the honour of working with the world’s most luxurious skincare brand: Margy's Monte Carlo. Margy’s spas are located in many branches globally, with its Flagship Store and Institute based in Monaco. Her spas are frequented by royalty and celebrities from different parts of Europe, and for good reason: Margy’s Monte Carlo skincare line is absolutely impeccable. In Dubai, the skincare products from this amazing brand are available in Talise Spas in Jumeirah Hotels.

I am also the brand ambassador of Esmeralda Luxury Villas, a company priding itself in luxury property rentals and sales of the best resorts in the world. Their clientele, which is high-end and exclusive, originate mainly in Europe and the Middle East. Esmeralda has impressive and opulent villas and properties in Italy and Switzerland, and in the spellbinding Mediterranean islands of Mykonos in Greece and Ibiza in Spain.

I'm also the official spokesperson of the Arab Fashion Council, which organises the Fashion Week, which takes bi-annually in Dubai, during March and October. Designers from around the globe flock to this aesthetic event to showcase their designs and collections. The Council teamed up with Meraas recently, opening a new boutique in City Walk known as 1422, branded as the world’s first ‘Ready Couture’ store. 

Describe your get up and go look.

If I had to get up and go quickly, I’d definitely have my makeup on without a doubt because I feel completely naked without it. I can't leave the house without it. I think the only people that have seen me without my makeup are my husband and my kids. So my makeup is extremely important. I wouldn't be able to leave the house without a shower, that's for sure. I can't really wear flats, but shoe comfort is also important to me. So these items complete my go-to look: a refreshing shower, flawless makeup, a simple black dress, and a comfortable pair of high heels.

Five items every woman should own:

The five things that every woman should have are a big bag, something that freshens or perks you up (like chewing gum, and perfume, or whatever that freshens how you feel), mobile charger and power bank, a hairbrush and last but not the least, a perfect smile to seize the day!

A big bag is a must so she can fit everything in: her mobile, hairbrush and perfume. Never leave the house without your mobile, a hairbrush to detangle and tame those tresses, and a perfume that you love and comfortable wearing during the day.  

And lastly, I don’t forget to carry a smile wherever you go. It’s the most important thing. It’s a good feeling when you smile at people, and they respond by smiling back at you. It’s a contagious feeling when everybody's happy, and that's what life is all about.

Three local fashion brands to look out for:

The three local fashion brands that are definitely making waves in Dubai Fashion District, and I’m sure you’ve probably heard about them. They are Michael Cinco, Amato and Mirna El Hage.

Amato and Michael Cinco are amazing Filipino fashion designers based in Dubai for the last 15 years. They have a tremendous following and an impressive clientele. They have designed captivating gowns and outfits for many Hollywood celebrities. Amato and Michael Cinco are known for their intricate, outstandingly original designs, and the amount of embroidery, detailing and handwork that they do is absolutely breathtaking. Mirna El Hage, on the other hand, is a beautiful Lebanese fashion designer who established her name in Dubai in 2003. Her designs are soft and feminine, with an understated statement of innocence and elegance.

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