Women

Picture Perfect

From the digital world to IRL, there is no difference when it comes to Nour Arida. This influential young woman based in Beirut lives her best life and illustrates it with a rare authenticity.
Reading time 5 minutes
Photographer Guen Fiore. Stylist Vanessa Bellugeon. Text Karen Rouach. Fine wool sweater, Molli. Quatre White Edition hoop earrings in yellow, white and rose gold, brown PVD and diamonds. Quatre Classique necklace in yellow, white and rose gold, brown PVD and diamonds, Boucheron.
“In the Middle East stereotypes are  quite strong. So I first of all fit the mould: impeccable hair, very marked make-up, ‘conservative’ clothes... I was afraid  that women wouldn’t identify with me. Then, little by little, I started to impose  my style, and that’s when I became famous. People finally preferred me to  the natural.” Nour Arida

WHAT WAS YOUR LIFE LIKE BEFORE SOCIAL MEDIA?

It did not look like today at all. I was a fashion buyer for one of Beirut’s biggest retail stores. And I was very shy. 

HOW DID YOU END UP ON INSTAGRAM WITH 3 MILLION FOLLOWERS?

My husband has always been addicted to social networks and he loves taking pictures. He created my Instagram page six years ago. The day we got married, I had 400 followers, only close friends. The next day, I woke up with 10,000 more: all the accounts dedicated to the wedding had reposted pictures of my dress. Then I started sharing pictures of myself pregnant, and finally, when I gave birth, I decided that it would become a professional page.

WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE TO HAVE SO MANY PEOPLE WATCHING YOU?

It is a little surreal. I always say that it is up to us to set the boundaries between public and private life, but it is becoming more and more difficult. It’s definitely a balancing act and the boundaries are always changing.

WHAT ARE THE DRAWBACKS OF THIS NEW FORM OF CELEBRITY?

Haters, those who send me nasty messages about my family, or me but I do not even blame them. It does not affect me because these are people hiding behind a screen. Sometimes I respond to them, especially when I am told that I am overexposing my daughter, or that I am using her for commercial purposes. 

DOES YOUR INFLUENCE ALLOW YOU TO SPEAK OUT FOR DIFFERENT CAUSES?  

Of course. In Lebanon, I am the only one with such an international community, so getting involved has become a no-brainer. I have, for example, recently participated in what is being described as a “Lebanese revolution” because we lack certain rights, I have to use my voice to make things happen, and many young people follow me. In general, all children’s causes affect me. I have been involved with UNICEF on behalf of underprivileged children, especially in education, as it is a passport to the future.

WHAT HAS HELPED YOU KEEP YOUR FEET ON THE GROUND?

Growing up in a fashion environment may have saved me from making some mistakes. My grandmother, who is also called Nour, was the director of Dior in Beirut in the 1980s, and my favourite person in the world. She instilled in me a lot of key values in my life. My mother, too, as a buyer, and always gave me valuable advice. George, my husband, pushed me to be stronger. It is because of him that I am here today.

HOW DID HE PROPOSE TO YOU?

I did not expect it at all because we had only been together for eight months. From day one he was convinced that we were going to get married. He told me but I always thought it was a joke. One day, while we were at his parents’ house in front of the beach, his mother turned on the TV so that I would not hear what was going on in the garden: all our friends and family were there to witness the proposal. I went out on the balcony and saw them all, while he was getting down on his knees. Five months later, we got married in Paris, and then I got pregnant in the process.

YOU HAVE A RATHER EFFORTLESS STYLE, DIFFERENT FROM THAT OF OTHER MIDDLE EASTERN CELEBRITIES. WAS IT DIFFICULT TO IMPOSE?

It is true that I do not like to be dressed by the big houses from head to toe, and that I almost do not wear makeup. I am the kind of person who gets out of the shower with wet hair, just puts on a bit of concealer, dons men’s jeans, boots and a crop top. At first, I thought I could not be who I really was, because in the Middle East, stereotypes are strong. So I first I tried to fit the mould: always impeccable hair, very madeup, “conservative” clothes... I was afraid that women would not identify with me. My experience as a buyer has taught me that you should not only think about yourself but also about what people can like. Then, little by little, I started to impose my style, and that is where I gained notoriety. People finally preferred me that way. 

WHAT IS THE BEST COMPLIMENT WE CAN GIVE YOU?

“You’re just like in your pictures.” Today, with social networks, we can retouch, make it seem like we are another... The gap between Instagram and reality remains huge.

 

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Photography Guen Fiore

Stylist Vanessa Bellugeon

Hairstyle: Walter Armano

Makeup: Megumi Itano

Photo assistant: Francesco Zinno

Styling assistant: Gabriela Cambero

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