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Digital Cover Featuring Zeynab El Helw

Arabian Moda Digital Cover x Zeynab El Helw

With over 3,5 million followers, Zeynab El Helw is proving herself to be one of the most stylish multi-taskers in the Middle East.

Juggling motherhood, brand endorsements and public appearances in fashion weeks and top destinations around the globe, Zeynab still finds time for her passion project Reborn, an apparel brand of easy-to-wear and comfortable pieces.

From a Parisian Jardin d'hiver, the Dubai-based Turkish and Egyptian trendsetter poses for Arabian Moda in flamboyant gowns by Badgley Mischka, Isabel Sanchis, Monique Lhuillier and a touch of sparkle from Garnazelle.

Fashion Editor & Stylist: Victor Concepto
Photographer & Filmmaker: Joy Strotz
Model: Zeynab El Helw
Location: Paris, France

AM: Zeynab, please tell us more about your diverse background and career
I was born and raised as a Londoner, of Turkish and Egyptian origins, and living in Dubai for over a decade now. I came to Dubai and got a job at Christian Dior and worked up the ladder for five years where I learned a great deal from my peers. It was essentially the starting point of my career, a true dream to be part of this beautiful house. I went on to taking a leap of faith and set-upped my own business. I started with an online e-commerce platform with social media and blogging, and fast-forward a few years later to creating my own label Reborn.

AM: How has this cultural mix affected your mindset?
I really do believe it has shaped me in so many ways in the sense of being open-minded and flexible. I always get inspired and love to discover more about my mixed cultures and try to incorporate it in my everyday lifestyle and work. Growing up I spent long summers in both countries and what is interesting is that they have so many similarities but are still quite different. It was really about finding my path and choosing my own ingredients in a sense - the best of both worlds. When people ask me if I am more Turkish or Egyptian, I can never give a solid answer. Sometimes it depends on my mood, other times it’s a line in between.

Arabian Moda x Zeynab El Helw x Isabel Sanchis
Jewelry, Garnazelle. Dress, Isabel Sanchis.

AM: How did you gain your influencer status? And what was the strategy you followed that made you so popular and different?
It really started unexpectedly by sharing things and not knowing there was an audience building up in the background. I used to travel a lot for work and created a blog for photos that documents styles and focuses on my own luxury street-style. Gradually it grew and I started to take it more seriously by voicing myself more and more. I do believe this really built a personality and resonated with the followers. I feel that the people who have been following me from the beginning have seen a massive evolution in myself, my life, my family and style, through snippets that have established a loyal connection with them. Balancing between motherhood and work really inspires them.

AM: And what is the main message you like to transmit?
I wouldn’t say there is one main message but a couple of ones working in parallel. I do believe we are complex and we have lots of interests and that we adapt easily. I think the main goal is to show that hard work does pay off and it’s OK to make mistakes. It’s OK to change directions and we just need to keep moving forward and building on. During my time on social media, I have shared my growth through a lot of talks I have hosted. I’ve tried and tested so many different ways and I never do the same thing over and over again. I love to work on myself. I want to do more, be better as a person and to succeed in my career at the same time. I want to be as loving to my husband and caring and giving to my kids and family. I hope this message resonates within my platform to inspire others to be able to set out their goals and take their time to get there.

AM: And are you able to disconnect from your phone?
This is vital. I try to take social media as job hours and switch off as much as I can in the evening. I’m consumed with my personal life and my brand business. So already working with my phone all day takes time but I do dedicate sufficient time. Planning and strategizing can help you disconnect.

Arabian Moda x Zeynab El Helw x Badgley Mischka
Jewelry, Garnazelle. Dress, Badgley Mischka.

AM: It also seems like you are picky about what you share from your personal life, is this intentional?
Yes. I like to keep a lot of my personal life private; it is something very important to me. I like sharing, however, I also believe in privacy. It’s really about trying to find the right balance and publishing the moments that could relate to people.

AM: As the face of several international brands what kind of collaborations are you mostly fond of?
I am very fond of collaborations through long-term partnerships because I believe in consistency and strong storytelling.

AM: And what would you say is your proudest collaboration so far?  

It would probably be walking the runway of an international brand in Milan during fashion week this year. I didn’t feel I was back to myself after my second child, yet, it was a huge success and it went viral. I felt everyone’s love and support. Coming from a modeling background and still being able to do what I love after having two babies was such a big thing for me. Having mothers worldwide supporting me on this day really meant so much.

AM: You are also on a mission with the UNHCR…
Indeed, we have a lot of work in progress here. My mission is to shed as much light as I can from my platform and to be more involved in humanitarian projects. We partnered together for my clothing line Reborn, so for every item sold we donate to give back to misplaced refugees worldwide. We are yet to discuss more ways of working and evolving together.

Arabian Moda x Zeynab El Helw x Monique Lhuillier
Jewelry, Garnazelle. Dress, Monique Lhuillier.

AM: Speaking of Reborn, what was the inspiration behind it?
In 2018 I was working on a brand that I was very passionate about but when COVID hit the world really started to shift and we all got affected. In my mind I wanted to do something that made a little more sense to me. A lot of people were going through hard times and depression, I wanted to create a brand that relates to feeling more confident, more about happy vibes, very comfortable and easy to wear and to mix and style. 

AM: And why the name Reborn?
I found out that I was pregnant at the beginning of the year of 2019 and with the pandemic happening it seemed that the world needed to be Reborn as I was baring life to a child.

AM: Going back to fashion, how would you define your overall style?
Relaxed, chilled and comfortable. I love a natural street-style type of vibe. It’s my everyday mood.

AM: Can you give us an insight to your beauty routine?
I always ensure to cleanse, tone and moisturize and incorporate monthly facials as much as I can. It’s not necessarily about the brand, but more about keeping your skin support. But before that, the best remedies for beauty and good health are sleep and an active lifestyle. I’m a huge fan of sports since I was a child. I was always very active and I love to keep my kids outdoors all the time as I constantly run around and I think that really helps me stay in shape.


AM: When it comes to your kids, and as a mother of two, how has motherhood affected your work rhythm?
It has brought along more work. Naturally, embracing motherhood has opened a lot more doors in my work opportunities. I’ve selectively chosen to embrace some as I feel that women might be in similar situations. I feel a lot of women relate to this because they’ve seen me evolve from being a single girl into fashion, travelling around the world, to growing into a family, having children and creating my own business.

AM: And as a working mother who works aboard every now and then, how do you manage all that?
I’m not going to sugarcoat it, it’s hard but something I love to do, so I try to shorten my trips. I’m lucky enough to have a support system that helps me. Still trips and jobs aboard, especially during fashion week, are difficult on me. But ultimately everything I do is for my family, so I always try and spend as much time as I can with my children. I always want to make sure that I’m the one bringing them up and teaching them as much as I can.

AM: Finally, what are some of your upcoming projects?
It’s all about my brand Reborn. We are launching a new collection and we are introducing a denim line which I’m so excited about. Let’s just say there’s a lot coming and I really can’t wait to share it with you all!