Reem and Natalya Kanj are quickly making a name for themselves in the fashion industry. We talked to the Five Five Fabulous sisters about their recent collaboration with River Island.
A 5’5 girl in a 5’10 world is still fabulous, and that’s what Reem and Natalya Kanj – the sisters behind Five Five Fabulous – would have you keep in mind. They may describe themselves as "average" in height, but there is nothing average about these two. After graduating from the London College of Fashion, the Kanj sisters launched Five Five Fabulous to chronicle their passion, and, in no time, it turned into a full-time job. Their recent collaboration with River Island is a testament to their eye for style, and you can check out their full capsule collection at the River Island locations in the Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates. In the mean time, read our interview with the girls to get a feel for the duo behind the famous website.
At what age did you start developing a passion for all things fashion-related?
Reem: Ever since I could draw I've had an interest in fashion design. Having grown up and experienced more, my love for the industry now spans over its many fields: photography, styling, design, and, of course, writing.
Natalya: I've also been interested in fashion from a very young age. I think we both get our fashion sense from our mother who is always très chic, but I mainly wanted to follow in Reem's footsteps.
Five Five Fabulous is an interesting name. How did it come about?
Reem: When I launched Five Five Fabulous, it was originally called 5'5 Girl in a 5'10 World. It was a blog intended to document the struggles of petite models in the fashion industry. After realizing that this was too long for a URL, I shortened the name to Five Five Fabulous, which still keeps the message intact. You can be deemed 'average' but you're still totally fabulous!
How do the two of you work together? Is one the right side of the brain and the other the left?
Natalya: I think you could describe it that way! Reem is focused on the business side of things as well as the overall branding and direction of Five Five Fabulous. I contribute a lot towards creative ideas and we are both heavily involved in all of our brand collaborations. Reem does this full time, and, as I work at the headquarters of a British luxury brand, it leaves us very little time to work together directly. However, I think we balance it very well. Thank God for Skype!
What do you think is the importance of collaborations?
Reem: Working with brands is super important to us. First off, it's always a massive privilege to be asked to collaborate on such exciting projects, but mostly it helps us experience different sides of the industry and interact with our readers on a whole other level. We absolutely love collaborating and can't wait to have more under our fashion belts.
Collaborating with River Island is a pretty big deal. How did that collaboration come about?
Natalya: River Island approached us to be a part of their Blogger Design Project at the beginning of the year. We immediately took them up on the offer to collaborate and once we were back in London we made our way to the HQ for the initial meeting to discuss designs. We couldn't be happier with the way the capsule collection turned out.
How does it feel to be associated with a brand as renowned as River Island?
Reem: We are thrilled to be associated with River Island. We love supporting the high street and are so excited that River Island are supporting us back in this way. Especially with both our backgrounds in design, it's an amazing way of re-visiting a passion we don't get to express very often.
What was the inspiration behind the collection?
Reem: The inspiration was Five Five Fabulous. We took our branding and signature colors of pink, charcoal, and white to create the color-block designs for the iPad and iPhone cases. For the tote bag and greeting cards, we used our strap line, 'Hello My Name Is Fabulous'. We are also in love with the Céline Trapeze bag and so wanted to pay homage to that silhouette in our own way.
What’s on the horizon for Five Five Fabulous?
Natalya: We can't give too much away before contracts are signed, sealed, and delivered but there's a lot to look forward to. One thing we can share is that we're both really looking forward to visiting Dubai at the end of the year. We've missed it so much and can't wait to get some sun!
We asked the girls some quick-fire questions as well. Read on to see how they answered.
Most treasured possessions?
Reem: My secret stash of chocolate. No one knows where it is!
Natalya: All my photographs.
Reem: I think I speak for both of us when I say our cheapest thrill is driving around (normally down Sheikh Zayed Road) singing cheesy love songs out loud. We only ever do it when it's the two of us and the amount of laughter that ensues is extraordinary.
Labels you love?
Natalya: I love Isabel Marant, Céline, Jil Sander, Zara, and Elie Saab.
Reem: I'm currently obsessed with 3.1 Phillip Lim, Stella McCartney, and Chloé.
Perfect idea of happiness?
Reem: Cooking pastries and eating them all!
Natalya: Crying with laughter.
Your style in 3 words?
Natalya: How about five words? I dress for my mood.
Reem: Casual, simple, and (on occasion) experimental.
Natalya: I love a good steak.
Reem: Authentic Italian pasta.
Reem: I love the sound of water.
Natalya: The Weeknd's voice!
Reem: Fresh bread baking in the oven.
Natalya: My mother's perfume; she wears Narciso Rodriguez.
Fantasy dinner guests?
After much deliberation, we've agreed on the following: Blair Waldorf (for the latest gossip), Amy Winehouse (for some British character), Carrie Bradshaw (for love anecdotes), Leonardo DiCaprio (for eye candy), Kate Hudson (for personality), and Mario Testino (to capture the evening through his lens).
Relaxation time is?
Hanging out together with some good food, a funny film, and lots of laughter.
interviewed by NOOR TEHINI|photos: courtesy of FIVE FIVE FABULOUS