Melanie Dagher

Melanie is an alumna from MA Fashion Media Production, now working in fashion journalism in Beirut.

Could you introduce yourself and tell us about what you’re up to now?

I currently reside in Beirut where I operate as the creative director of two prominent Middle Eastern fashion publications, Aishti Magazine and L’Officiel Levant (the latter the Middle Eastern version of L’Officiel magazine in France). I am also the creative director of the Aishti Foundation, the first contemporary art museum of Lebanon.

How did you go about choosing the course?

Funnily enough, it was 2011 and I was a junior in the same company I work in now. After having experienced the industry from within, I still felt I had to acquire further knowledge and expertise beyond the world of print and move into digital and new technologies.

I had always been fascinated by London and its energy so I naturally started my research there. Despite French being my mother tongue, and my far-from-perfect English, I felt compelled to take on the challenge. My online research led me to University of the Arts London and my mind was made up as soon as I discovered the MA Fashion Media Production. It met all of my expectations. In hindsight, it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

How did you find your time at LCF?

In one word, invaluable. The classes were of course of a high caliber, but the real learning experience took place beyond the classroom through the acquaintances you made in a pool of very talented and passionate people. The program offers fascinating talks and seminars with trailblasers from the industry and lets you delve into its awesome library. My MA at LCF opened so many doors for me, but mainly allowed me to realise what the focal points of my career should be.

How was the teaching?

The program was conceived in a way that is perfectly adequate for postgraduate students. The teachers have made their mark on the industry, they’ve written books, collaborated with key designers among other endeavors. Students were given a lot of freedom within their responsibilities; their ideas were valued and they were encouraged to carry on with their projects no matter how ambitious they might have seemed.

What are the three things you took away from your experience at LCF?

Connections, creativity and courage, lots of courage.

What skills did you learn from the course and are still using today?

I learned to master the digital medium and I’m currently applying it in a market that’s in an uphill transition towards it. It hasn’t been smooth but this is all part of the challenge. During my year at LCF I experimented with each part of the process, from writing to post-production and styling. This has been my biggest strength; I came out of LCF with a managerial potency that’s given me the ability to grasp my craft perfectly.

Tell us about an average day at your job?

I work in the creative department of both aforementioned publications so there really is no typical day at work. Some days I spend my time on a shoot, others I’ll be travelling to attend a fashion week or a meeting. When the printing date is near I could be at the printing house going over paper samples and selecting which cover to go with. Still, I do have days where I sit behind my computer in order to research, brainstorm and reply to a heap of emails.

How do you think digital is changing publishing and the media?

Given that print is our forté, we had to adapt rather quickly. We pushed towards morphing our magazine content into a coffee table book that people would want to keep around. At the moment, this is what we’re aiming for, from the paper size to textures, visual referencing and editorial line everything is subject to a restructure. We want to operate like an independent publication with timeless visual and written content. Our themes need to explore more intricate subject lines than accessories and trends; we’re shifting our focus towards more current subject matters like gender roles and youth. This is the market we want to appeal to by peeking into its digital persuasion. The idea is to create an online media entity that can operate independently from its cyclical print counterpart. Its content will vary daily and it will take on music, video, interactive easy-to-read articles, content that can be shared. To say that the media landscape of today is moving fast would be understatement. The trick is to find a solution that you can adapt without negating the print factor.