Many of us know Roula Kehdi as an exceptional Lebanese fashionista and TV personality who is always up to the minute with the latest trends, and have come to anticipate her unique looks and appearances week after week.
HOME sat down with Kehdi for a dynamic interview, tracing her career milestones, style journey and future prospects.
Giving up a Fulfilling Career to follow a Lifelong Passion: An Unlikely Move
Before venturing into fashion, Kehdi worked for eight years in a commercial department, handling the business strategies of a number of print publications under Al Waseet International.
“I have an extensive background in media. I started off as an account executive and then helped launch Al Balad newspaper from my position as sales manager,” she told HOME. “And when the company went on to launch the new magazine Gala, I took over the entire commercial department, allocating budgets and managing a team of sales executives.”
Her job included a lot of travel to neighboring countries such as Syria and later the UAE, in order to promote the business and meet with potential sponsors and large- scale clients. But at the very peak of her professional success, she had the courage and ambition to leave it all behind for the sake of her ultimate passion: fashion.
“I decided to quit the sector altogether and started acquiring clothing items from Paris and organizing private sales among friends and acquaintances,” she explained.
“Meanwhile, I was still taking on freelance consultancy projects for large companies and businesses, advising on their media strategies and providing them with adequate training, until I was approached by MTV.”
Intrigued by her style and foreign looks, producer Lara Lahad first addressed her in English and asked her to come to the TV for a casting session sometime. “I’m not a TV person,” Kehdi replied. She joined Pierre Rabbat’s hit TV show Men El Ekhir that aired for four seasons on MTV.
She was known for her stylish looks and original opinions, so people gradually started to look forward to her outfits.
Soaring Up New Heights in TV and Fashion
As the show proceeded, Kehdi was working in parallel on her own shoe accessory label, Roula Kehdi Creations, which in itself was a previously unheard of endeavor in the fashion world. Kehdi loves accessories, half of her look is based on accessories.
“It was literally a new concept worldwide. I did not make shoes but rather shoe accessories. Accessory pieces that are specific for the feet in other words,” she told HOME.
Then, she landed her own segment, Fashionista, on morning show MTV Alive and covered everything from trends and styling tips to fashion police-type roundups, critiquing the looks of Arab and international celebrities.
In line with these activities, Kehdi recently joined Director’s Kcut, to give styling workshops whereby participants are instructed on the appropriate ways of dressing up to any occasion, from street style to business meeting, and invited in the end to a hands-on makeover session at Antelias-based concept store Le Loft 271 to put the skills and tips they have acquired to practice.
Lebanon: The Beginning, Never The End
Despite being a widely admired fashionista, Kehdi never got into the blogger-perpetuated practice of making money from brands by tagging them in her pictures on social media. “I do not tag brands but I am rather solely interested in supporting and promoting talented Lebanese designers both on Instagram and Snapchat and in my TV appearances,” she noted.
"I am solely interested in supporting and promoting talented Lebanese designers"
“I do not like being commercial and therefore I only showcase designers and creations that I truly admire and refrain from doing favors in this regard in order to maintain my integrity in the eyes of my social media followers.”
“I also take on consultancy projects and styling workshops for major companies in order to train employees on how to dress appropriately for their positions because I believe that clothes significantly affect one’s mood and productivity in today’s world,” she added.
But her busy schedule does not prevent her from visiting her HOMEtown, Zahle, every weekend to spend time with her family.
“I worked on myself a lot and experienced life in all its struggles in order to reach where I am today but the thing is when you are young, you are not quite attached to your HOMEtown, yet as you grow older, you realize that you cannot detach from your roots and come to value and admire this precious heritage.”
"when you are young, you are not quite attached to your HOMEtown, yet as you grow older, you realize that you cannot detach from your roots and come to value and admire this precious heritage"
When asked about her perception of Lebanon and what it has offered her over the years, Kehdi expressed her gratefulness for everything that her country was able to offer her, from support and professional opportunities to success and fame but acknowledged that her ambition extends beyond the scale of her country alone.
“Lebanon is the beginning but certainly not the end,” she told HOME. “This is the place where my dreams came true but I am currently looking to spread my wings and expand my work abroad with the ultimate aim of going international.
Kehdi has recently launched her new line of travel and business suitcase, she is constantly looking at the future with a bright and hopeful eye, filled with ambition and drive.