Bridal planner Daisy Maalouf was recently in Bahrain for a high-profile wedding.
She shared her vision for women worldwide with Behnaz Sanjana.
A model at 14 and a practising ballet dancer at 56, Daisy Maalouf is the epitome of grace and elegance. For the last 12 years, she has been training brides to bring out the best in themselves on their big day.
Having learned under one of the best names in the modelling industry of the day, Daisy has worked in England and runs Daisy’s Modelling Group in Lebanon. She was also the youngest jurist on a television show – Best Tonight.
Talking about her penchant for being ‘proper’ since she was a little girl, she says: “It was something I was born with. I always liked things being done correctly. I loved fashion and enjoyed being on a stage; so modelling came naturally to me.”
For Daisy, becoming a bridal planner happened by chance. “I was helping a friend plan an Al Saud wedding, which was obviously taking place on a large scale. The bride’s mother requested me to give her daughter some additional pointers on how to carry and conduct herself, and my work was much appreciated. Thereafter I was called for her other daughter’s wedding and I gained recognition through word of mouth,” she says.
Besides designing silverware for her own venture – Taramand – Daisy is a familiar name in the royal wedding circles of the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar and now, Bahrain. She has formally studied the art of etiquette and has poured over numerous books on the subject. “Etiquette is all about knowing the right way of doing things, while adapting it to your own country and culture,” she says.
She swings into action with the bride six days prior to the big day. “Physical training enables her to carry her shoulders correctly for good posture; then I teach her how to walk in her heels, manage her flowing dress and how to sit correctly. My brides are self-confident, can walk beautifully, yet naturally, and are encouraged to be themselves,” she says. She also choreographs the weddings – training brides to walk on the catwalk, which is the culture in top-bracket Middle Eastern nuptials.
Her three-day group classes in etiquette and posture are not limited to brides-to-be. “I teach ladies how to stand, sit, walk, shake hands correctly, introduce themselves, enter a room and carry themselves elegantly in casual and formal settings. They also learn how to host parties, how to talk and, more importantly, how to listen.”
Daisy’s efforts to groom women have a higher intent than would first appear. “If I teach ladies who hold prominent positions in the community well, others will emulate them, and this will result in a better society – which is my aim, especially in the Arab world. Our women need to realise that they are not only about looks. The Middle Eastern woman is intellectual, well-mannered and able to hold her own, no matter where she is. Charisma comes with brains, not beauty alone.”
Daisy also tackles a relevant social evil today – the smart phone. “Constantly looking into your phone takes away from your character. Look people in the eye and be present! I remind ladies to use their mobile only when needed,” she says.
While Daisy is all for making a great first impression, she doesn’t endorse jumping on to the cosmetic bandwagon. She says: “Age with grace and dress accordingly. Why should I hide the lines on my face? They show my experiences, wisdom and achievements; this is who I am. Sadly, these days, most young girls are dolls, with blonde hair, big lips and no character. It is not going to make you any more appealing. Instead, focus on gaining knowledge in whatever interests you, no matter what your age. That is true beauty.”
Daisy’s parting shot to any bride is: “Always choose to be yourself. Marriage is already a major life transition, so when you are stepping onto a new path, you should be able to recognise yourself in the mirror. Enhance your looks, but don’t lose your identity. Your dress and makeup should reflect you, and fit with your lifestyle. Fine-tune and improve, but stay true