Shouq Al Marzouq is a woman who not only knows how to find her way in the digital world but navigates the herd. She’s the business brain behind the handbag label captivating some of the most-followed women in the world (you may be familiar with one Kylie Jenner) and boasts a wardrobe to make even the peacockiest of peacocks ruffle their feathers. It’s not surprising, considering she spends her time between three fashion-thriving cities; Lebanon, Paris and her current home, Kuwait. She calls The MOD today from the Gulf, where she lives with her husband, son and works alongside her brother (and business partner) on their namesake brand Marzook.
Shouq wears: Dress by Petar Petrov.
Modesty isn’t about clothes, it’s about your attitude and how you carry yourself. Your clothing simply adds to your modesty, it doesn’t define it
When speaking to Shouq it’s fiercely apparent that this woman knows business (to a masters degree level, if we’re being exact). She’s eloquent, direct and knows who she is. I ask if she’s always had such a clear vision and strong sense of her true self to which she replies, “As I grow older I realise you don’t need to follow the herd.” And follow the herd, she does not. Her closet brims with feathers and brightly-coloured coats, and there are sequins on every shelf. But somehow her wardrobe manages to ooze professionalism. When it comes to balance, she gets it.
“I’ve definitely experimented [when it comes to my style]. I’ve gone wild with my looks” she laughs, “I feel like as a designer, you need that outlet of going crazy.” She continues, “But at this stage in my life, it’s important that I portray my professionalism. As I grow older, I feel like this is who I really am.” And the key to such confidence? “Experience,” says Shouq. “Everyone needs to go through that experimental stage with fashion, but as you mature you understand your body and what works at different stages in your life. You evolve into a person who is comfortable showing their style to the world.”
Kuwaiti women are certainly no strangers to high fashion, and Shouq describes growing up in the region as her ‘fashion education’. “I’ve been brought up in a culture where women love brands, fashion and couture. They know exactly what they want to buy.” She describes eclecticism being a way of life where she was raised. “Kuwaiti women do like to stand out. The country has always been a hub for arts, and that has transcended through generations into what women are wearing today. It’s very unusual to see two Kuwaiti women wearing the same thing. They style everything differently.” For Shouq, clever styling and vintage piece are key to her individualism. “I always mix and match from my mum’s closet. I love doing that. I never buy a head to toe look off the runway. I think you need to put a little bit of your own personality into every outfit.”
We’re taking note, but there’s something about the way in which Shouq pulls her outfits together that surpasses any formula. We can’t quite put our finger on it but ‘je ne sais quoi’ springs to mind. “Middle Eastern women have an impressive way of carrying themselves.” Shouq explains, “You see it at weddings, at dinners, at events. But also we respect the guidelines of our religion and heritage, and that translates into my style.” It prompts us to ask what modesty means to her. “Modesty isn’t about clothes, it’s about your attitude and how you carry yourself. Your clothing simply adds to your modesty, it doesn’t define it.”
It’s with this same respectful attitude Shouq approaches her role as the business-mind in her company, whilst her brother focuses on the creative aspect of Marzook. “We do our own thing but collaborate when we need to. People are often surprised about our roles; the man dealing with the design and the woman with the business side of things. I think in the Middle East especially, there’s this idea that the male is the business-minded person who focuses on finance, but I think it makes us unique.” You can consider that stereotype well and truly smashed. Despite her label’s growing success, Shouq remains humble and stresses the importance of remembering the lows, too. “We learnt you need thick skin. You’ll have people telling you what you should and shouldn’t do, but you need to believe in your vision, even if other people don’t at first.”
It’s refreshing to hear someone recall their past and present choices with such ease and Shouq attributes that effortlessness to not taking herself too seriously. “I’m the kind of person who doesn’t want to place too much importance on looks alone. I don’t want recognition because of what I’m wearing – I want it for what I’m saying. That’s where I’m at today. It’s not about me anymore it’s about the message I’m spreading. We question what that message is. Her reply is simple but true. “Be yourself, because, at the end of the day that is who you are left with.”