“To be or not to be a Mayshad Woman,” that is the question. With “empowerment” the new energy of the century, this Maison of leather luxury warrants a fresh philosophy according to the ritziest standards only French knowhow can claim.
From femi-nazis to Feminism Lite and Freeing The Nipple, the modern-day F-bomb has boldly traveled off the beaten path.
With this feature, Temper is going beyond the borders of our most-beloved Middle Kingdom and taking things out to the international ballgame. When attending Dragon Designer Liu Chao’s (of his eponymous Liu CHAO brand) Paris Haute Couture show on January 23, Founder of Paris-based luxury brand Maison Mayshad Nezha Alaoui was struck by genius lighting and decided to dab her dainty toe into the luxuriously lush bath that is the world of China Fashion. Introduced to yours truly by LaWo’s — China’s very first multi-platformed fashion app — Todd Okimoto, I decided to declare a one-off martial “the exception that proves the rule” law and feature Mayshad on Temper. Like Liu’s collections celebrate womankind, this piece too counts as one fine feline fest. Grâce à Alaoui.
That dirty F-word
When you scroll down to “feminism”, Oxford Dictionary defines: “The advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.” There you go, one definition dating back to 1895 yet thoroughly clean-cut clear as could be anno 2017. Unfortunately, despite long having carried with a negative connotation — just think the anti-suffragette cartoons of the earliest 20th Century — the term has become quite the dirty word in past decades, often mockingly denoted as “The Other F-word” or its followers as “femi-nazis” — thank you, Rush Limbaugh, for the latter. From an inspirational term supporting the unadulterated advancement of women to derogatory insult accusing women of emasculating the men of the world to being blatantly denounced by TV evangelists, this F-bomb has boldly traveled off the beaten path, at a mile a minute, and now finds itself the hotly debated topic of many a morning talk show in every shape and size. From femi-nazis to Feminism Lite and Freeing The Nipple.
An Annie Lennox-styled effort in encouraging education for young girls across Africa seems ever so slightly more effective in my old-maid prayerbook.
Truth be told, I too find myself guilty as charged when it comes to the occasional mocking of “feminism”, i.e. rolling my eyes when yet another nude selfie posted on social media captioned “female empowerment” flashes past. Call me a conservative prude — which would actually be right along the ludicrous lines of referring to the Netherlands as a “nazist, fascist nation” — but I do not need your non-breastfeeding nipples to get moi an equal paycheck. Let alone equality, tout court. If you got it, flaunt it (go for it!), yet an Annie Lennox-styled effort in encouraging education for young girls across Africa seems ever so slightly more effective in my old-maid prayerbook.
On that note, I am one firm believer in ye ole saying that “actions speak louder than words” — and I’m not talking about those verbal expressions à la “dreaming of blowing up the White House” followed by the repeated use of the No. 1 F-word. Eloquence for that brief marching moment in time seemed to have been a lost virtue — luckily one the Portmans and Johanssons of my generation proved to be very much bien vivant and vibrant. Take note from the dressed-to-the-nines Vreelands, Roitfelds, Therons, Lennoxes, Diries and Bowies (yes, I’m throwing David into the mix — ’cause I can) of this world: People pursuing their dreams and, in doing so, paving and leading the way for girls — and boys — of generations to come. Perseverance is a powerful tool.
“The world needs people who pursue their dreams, to lead us all forward.” Nezha Alaoui, founder and creative director of Maison Mayshad.
About early-day suffragettes and modern-day Mayshad
Writes The Guardian in 2015, “The suffragettes took care to “appeal to the eye” – particularly when in full glare of media attention on parade or demonstrating. In 1908, one of their newspapers,Votes for Women, declared: ‘The suffragette of today is dainty and precise in her dress.’ Five years later, sellers of the Suffragette were requested to ‘dress themselves in their smartest clothes’.” The suffragette color-scheme, designed in 1908 by Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence, was in itself a nice piece of work in terms of “fashion branding”. Suffragettes wore purple to signify loyalty and dignity, white for purity and green to represent hope. Members were encouraged to wear the colors “as a duty and a privilege”. Department stores such as Selfridges sold the token tricolor-striped ribbon for hats, belts, as well as underwear, bags, shoes and toiletries. Paving the way, these babes.
Fast forward one century, and we owe them a big kowtow for all the ways in which we nowadays dress and celebrate our feline selves — just ’cause we can. Their movement formed a creative whirlwind, one defined by acts of daring — or “Just Do It” in today’s lingo. Aside from giving women a voice, the right to vote and control over their own bodies, their actions have shown us that fortune favors the brave. A motivational token for unyielding tenacity, many a woman has since taken on board and into account the messages featured on those rebellious leaflets: Accept only victory — nothing else. One such belle is Nezha Alaoui, founder and creative director of Maison Mayshad.
Based out of Paris, Maison Mayshad is a luxury handbag brand looking to make a difference in this world starting with their approach to the spheres of fashion and luxury. “I want women to use fashion and luxury to enhance their own lifestyles; not because of any kind of social pressure,” states Alaoui. All Mayshad creations are handcrafted inside the most prestigious Parisian ateliers. Every step within the brand’s collection design process ensures the artistic ideas at hand turn into lines that carry the brand’s core values: A look, a mind and a soul; Mayshad shops for stories, not products. Every fabric and supplier along the line holds a life-philosophy that relates to these values. A felt cabas, that timeless large bag, your staple statement purse: It’s a Mayshad mosaic that divulges all about the owner. In positively empowering style.
To be or not to be a Mayshad Woman: To “be who you want to be” is one reachable target.
Temper: Positivity, luxury and design. Who is Nezha Alaoui?
Alaoui: “Nezha Alaoui is a 34-year-old woman, mother and entrepreneur, who understood in the creation and construction of her own innerself, that ’empowerment’ makes for the new energy of the 21st century. Just like electricity and oil have given mankind the power to build and develop the world, this type of positive energy is what the world needs the most right now; this is what gives each individuals the inspiration to “Be who they want to Be”. Both in respect towards others as well as away from inner conflicts.”
Temper: Bringing empowerment to la Parisienne. What’s your philosophy on both design and accessories — as two separate categories — in general?
Alaoui: “Handbags are, in my mind, a woman’s essential fashion item, supporting them throughout the progress and success of their daily lives. I have thought out every Mayshad Handbag to the point of being very light and comfortable to carry. The refinement the bags possess via the leathers and fabrics that we use, will give any woman carrying them a natural sense of elegance, yet one paired with the freedom to maintain her own style that makes her her very own and very unique woman.”
Temper: To be or not to be a Mayshad Woman: How do you aim to bring you client positivity and empowerment through your designs?
Alaoui: “My client is that woman who has already been acquainted with the feel other luxury brands have to offer and, despite being completely satisfied with these brands and their designs, is on the lookout for just that tad more exclusivity our products have on offer. Aside form that ‘next-level exclusivity’ experience, she will gain a sense of belonging to a powerful club of like-minded women. I want the Mayshad woman, when she carries our designs, to feel that she is more powerful than she would be on other days. WIth an ounce of that extra positive awareness that will help accomplish those things she longs for to cross her path. The Mayshad handbags then come as a reminder to her and her surroundings, that to ‘Be who You want to Be’ is most definitely a reachable target! It only demands focus and commitment and Mayshad’s platform-at-large, which includes our Mayshad Woman Mag as well as the Mayshad Woman Club are there to support this quest for each and every one of us who possesses the courage to pursue their own path in life!”
Temper: How does Maison Mayshad distinguish itself from other on-the-rise accessory brands?
Alaoui: “I don’t believe in competition, but I do believe in the richness of diversity. I love the fact there are so many luxury brands out there; each with their own (hi)story and market positioning. Maison Mayshad, then, has its own particularities, namely that it carries with an empowering philosophy expressed through the most luxurious standards of the French knowhow, and has a creative director (i.e. me) who is in continual search of new ways to source innovative fabrics to mix with our already-in-place exquisite natural leathers.”
Temper: The Mayshad take on accessory design: Do you play favorites in terms of materials or styles?
Alaoui: “When I source fabrics, I don’t look for actual suppliers, but I look for the stories behind those suppliers — hence the sustainability within each piece of fabric we use. I myself carry around every one of the Mayshad styles, at different times of the day and on different occasions. Travel, long work days, fun evenings, laid-back leisure… It’s just so difficult to stick to (or prefer) one and only one! All the more so when you are an active woman who juggles the different facettes and seasons occurring in her life!”
Temper: How does your creative process kick off? How do you “expose” yourself?
Alaoui: “My inspirations… They come from you, from her, from him… Every citizen of the world whom I encounter, and who carries that borderline-palpable feeling of happiness and contentment within themselves, has something to teach me and therefore inspires me. Albeit consciously or subconsciously. In that light, I’ve previously been called a sponge since I enjoy so very much absorbing the world and all of its cultures that I actually have the chance to discover! My different social media platforms bound together make for one great component of my communication campaign — one I manage personally — as it simply befits both my personality as well as my constant desire and drive to share my positive personal experiences with the world.”
Temper: What’s your position on the concept of “sustainability” within the current luxury design scene? Talking the talk or walking the walk?
Alaoui: “I think it is the responsibility of every individual company to ensure the sustainablity behind both their sourcing and production processes, whether this concerns the creation of leather goods or another industry. I don’t see this type of thought-through and well-balanced process opposing any type of economic growth and I also hold that in the long haul, this may even prove more beneficial! Mind you, awareness has always payed off, abuse has not. In sum, I prefer to believe what I’m hearing on the sustainability front and will keep doing so — unless another truth surfaces… So, yes, I say it is alive, whether this action stems from the heart or is a mere positioning of the mind. At least the word is out there and being implemented — one way or another!”
Temper: What’s your opinion of the luxury scene anno 2017? Is it getting tougher to launch, move and shake things up — due to money crises? In other words… Luxury design: In or out?
Alaoui: “My theory on the general [financial] crisis and those [luxury] businesses that still suffer from it, is pretty much related to a big change in consumer behavior and the companies that did not have the humility to adapt their services to this massive change. I do, on the other hand, believe it is easier to launch a business right now, one that is free of all the choices companies had to make back in the 1990s, resulting in today’s money-consuming structures. My advice to new entrepreneurs is to make sure you create a business model that steers clear from the fantasy that is your classic business model. Talking about the future of Mayshad in particular, then, I sincerely hope to succeed in forging a trusted relationship between the minds, hearts and souls of those international people who feel empowered by our message, products and platform!”
When we combine the look with the intelligence and the soul, we can accomplish anything. Simplicity, creativity and positivity: Every woman is a Mayshad woman.
Wrapping things up on a China note, I dare say the aforementioned philosophy also applies to all the good women of China who are seeing greater improvements in the promotion of gender equality across the board — if we are to believe recent reports, that is (beating the negative Nancys to the punch here).
From my own first-tier urban China experience, I dare say that the 2017 urban — yes, once more for the cheap seats in the back — Chinese woman is no longer subordinate to her male peer in terms of law or education; they are given the same rights, benefits and responsibilities on many levels. Whereas the ideal Confucian woman was of repressed social status, Chinese women in general have enjoyed a higher status than their Western counterparts — even in the Mao era (“Woman holds up half the sky,” anyone?) and Qing Dynasty (The Dowager Empress Wuxi, anyone?). Their status even shone through in China’s classic literature such as “Dream of the red chamber”. With the number of highly educated Chinese women spiraling upwards, China’s job market is witnessing a rise in female CEOs — think 44-year-old Lucy Peng, CEO of the Alibaba Small and Micro Financial Services Group and one of China’s highest ranking women execs. Nevertheless, as always, there are two sides to the mao here.
Just to illustrate. When in 2016 China’s two-child policy was officially adopted, it was met with a fair amount of criticism as the population had originally been forced into the one-child system and now prodded to have more offspring due to a throbbing government “declining population” headache. Nevertheless, many Chinese women and their families were thrilled about the prospects of being able to legally have a second child. However, due to various concerns, many women are reluctant to bear a second child. One such concern is the lack of government-supported childcare or “alimony”. When China opened its doors to the world and invited in capitalism — ooh, another dirty word — society was soon introduced to the concepts of private nurseries and kindergartens. Which are expensive. Which in turn means that without help from the government, the care for the children automatically lands on the shoulders of China’s young mothers who subsequently instead of working. Therefore, unless they have a doting Bobo and/or Bubbie on call, which admittedly many Chinese couples do, these 30-something women have no option but to sit at home. Like it or not.
Now, not to put a Debbie Downer on this feline fest, I opt for the Mayshad message of positivity and dare say that the feline future is looking bright! In this day and age, for women, girls and younger generations in general around the globe, it’s all about the Holy TrinitE: Education results in Empowerment, resulting in Equality. With a side of freedom for all to boot. Time to kick up those heels — with a bag to match the mood!
All images come courtesy of Maison Mayshad.
Contact Maison Mayshad via:
Instagram: mason_mayshad or mayshadwoman
After tackling Beijing for some six years where she worked for China International Publishing Group, she spent a moment in time moseying down steep alleyways and writing about their fashionable and underground features in Hong Kong.
Van Paridon most recently managed to claw her way through a Europe-based academic endeavor called "Journalism". 'Tis in such fashion that she has now turned her lust for China Fashion/ Lifestyle and Underground into a full time occupation.
Van Paridon hunts down the latest in Chinese menswear, women’s clothing, designer newbies, established names, changes in the nation’s street scenery, close-ups of particular trends presently at play or of historical socio-cultural value in Chinaplus a selection of budding photographers.
Paired with a deep devotion to China’s urban underground scene, van Paridon holds a particular interest in the topics of androgyny, the exploration of individuality and the power that is the Key Opinion Leader (the local term for “influencers”) in contemporary China.