Why "I Don't Belong to You" is Mido's Life and Fashion Statement
Mido fashion style
“I don’t belong to you” - Photos by  Marco Ter Beek

“I don’t belong to you” - Photos by Marco Ter Beek

As I was walking around Hotel Intercontinental during the Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week, I spotted the fashion designer Mido wearing a belt full of statements like “Justice, Freedom, Peace” and other power words I related to.

Because I’m specialized in portrait interviews centered around social justice and impact, I grabbed him for an interview.

“- I love women. But I feel like when women design for other women, there’s jealousy involved.

I’ve witnessed several times clients looking perfect in dresses and the designer would say “Don’t take it, let’s stay on the safe side”…

I don't chose the safe side. In fact, the way I’d describe my ideal client would be “a diva”.

I don’t like how this word is usually defined, but the way I see it is a woman who’s walking down the street and everybody is looking at her, wondering where she got her outfit from, because she looks fabulous!

It’s not just about the cut, the color, the silhouette nor the cloth, it’s also about sending a message.

One of my idols is Viviane Westwood because she makes crazy fashion, a mix between pretty a porter and haute-couture, but through her clothes, she expresses herself and the way she thinks, which it’s really important for me too.

It’s one of the reasons why I feel different from many designers.

Another reason I feel different comes from my background: I was born in Egypt and I’m mixed-race. My mother is white, my father is black, my grand-mother is Turkish.

Every 2-3 years I would move to a different country, so I’ve always been interested in other cultures. I studied in American schools, and even if we’d speak the same languages with my classmates, we would have different accents and backgrounds.

I used to hate that instability because I’d always have to make new friends and get accustomed to new cultures. But now I see how it has built my character, and eventually my work.

Actually, my biggest inspiration is mixed cultures. For instance, my last collection is inspired by two cultures very far away from each other… I researched those cultures a lot and tried to find the common ground to mix them together : Maasai and Mongolia.

I just moved from Poland to Paris this week and I’m excited to see what inspiration will arise for my next collections!

“I don’t belong to you” is my slogan and is part of my label, sewed on all my clothes.

Anyone will interpret it differently, but for me it means that wherever I’ve lived, I never felt like I belonged anywhere. I feel the same about religions, languages… I appreciate everything but I don’t want to feel biased nor limited.

I don’t like to feel judged by close-minded people, upon whichever category they put me in, for instance, my skin is colored and people get shocked in Polish when I speak their language perfectly. Why?!

- It’s really a strong statement because when comparing your journey to your work, it feels like since you were forced to move to all those different places during your childhood, you probably felt like you didn’t belong, and though “You know what, if I don’t belong, I’m gonna be my own persona, embrace my uniqueness and create pieces that stand out”, I reply.

- Exactly. I want to show that difference is beautiful and not something to hide from, rather something to embrace.

Life is so short!

I’ve noticed that people prefer to stick with jobs and situations they dislike until the end of their lives, to then regret and question their choices once it’s too late. If everyone pursued what they were good at, they would put their heart into what they do best and the world would change.

- That’s what I display with my work, by portraying people like you”, I conclude.

:)

Snow - A Flake of Kindness and Love
Snow
dong huang restaurant


Does it ever happen to you that an angel comes your way and unexpectedly tells you exactly what you needed to hear, as well as to every single friend sitting at your table and half of you end up in tears of joy, because her words resonate so deeply?
Well, this happened to me last week and I couldn’t be more grateful for meeting Snow, such an energetic, loving and giving woman.

We stopped by her restaurant in Paris and she gave us numerous life advice.

I rarely see people shining so bright and looking so filled with love and happiness.

Her secret?

“Love first.

Love yourself and love others.

No matter the obstacles.

No matter wether you’re rich or poor.

No matter if you’re successful or not, alone or surrounded.

Keep loving, keep believing.

God listens to you and will give you anything you ask for.

In everything that I do, I put love. When I cook. When I talk to my customers, my family, my friends.

When I do anything.

I’m filled with love.

That’s my tip.

And then I eat one pomegranate a day, to prevent cancer.”

:)

Unifying Earth with the Street Musician Danni Lança
Portugal Christopher brown
Portugal Christopher brown 2
Photos by Christopher Brown

Photos by Christopher Brown

I overheard Danni Lança’s music while walking nearby my hotel in Lisbon.

I picked up on certain words in Portuguese and figured he was singing about nature preservation and questions related to the future of our planet and species.

You know me, I sensed he had powerful messages to spread, so I waited for his break to ask for an interview:

“We need unification right now, he says.

There’s lots of differences and cultures on the planet and we forget we are one tribe.

You know, as a street singer; I’ve noticed the difference… I’ve been singing on the streets for 20 years, and people are not looking at me as much.

I sing in 5 languages though, so they understand what I say. And music is the most expansive art too. Say if I danced, passersby would only use one sense to notice me.

But if they don’t see me, how could they listen?

Popular songs nowadays talk about girls, gold and Ferraris. Those lyrics are low frequency and centered around ego.

But music has power and people cannot live without it, so I hope that musicians will start writing about more interesting topics, so we can bring a positive vibe and make a difference by talking about what’s inside humans rather than appearance.”

Find your way in the episode:

1:30 lyrics - the importance of taking care of the nature and each other

4:00 humans are disconnected

5:30 the power of music

"You are Always a Work of Art" / Chatting Inspiration & Mood with Alessandro Valente

I came across Alessandro while stepping out of a store in London. When I heard his music, I chose to stop my autopilot of going from point A to point B and appreciate that moment.  After we connected, I looked through his Instagram profile and a caption stayed with me: 

“WHEN PEOPLE STOP BY AND SHARE A MOMENT OF THEIR LIVES WITH ME AND MY MUSIC, ALL THE NOISES OF THE STREET FADE OUT, DISAPPEAR FOR A SECOND, AND WE CAN FOCUS ON THE PRESENT. TOGETHER”.

Alessandro valente

How often do you catch yourself focusing on the moment like that… And how often are you on auto-pilot?

“My overall message is to pay attention to what surrounds you. People, buildings, nature, the sky...

I play music on the streets and it's interesting to observe people and notice how they look around: the stressed ones look at the pavement, others look at the sky and take it all in... In fact, when you look at the sky, your problems are nothing. Even if you think your problems are covering you, the sky covers your problems! 

When I play, I focus on those who stare at me to connect over my music rather than just see me, because they are in the present.  

I reached a turning point two years ago after quitting my studies in Italy to come here, focus on music and discover my artistic self. 

After having had a rough patch, I started to see life as a roller coaster. Imagine you run in a field and fall in a black hole: you have to discover what's around you in the dark and find the tools to climb back up. 

It doesn't mean you can never fall in another hole again, it's a continuum, but at least you have the tools.

Since happiness is beautiful but not constant, you need those flows to appreciate it through contrasts, and for me as a writer, to have something to write about. 

I want my music to reflect that. I also see it as a sort of meditation because when I play, I tend to be elsewhere, in another state of mind, focused on the performance, attuned. 

I originally challenged myself to perform on the streets because I was afraid of people’s opinions, so I decided to play every day until I’d stop caring. I noticed that the more confident I was playing the exact same songs, the more successful I would be. That’s why I think looking inward is so important for an artist.

Alessandro

Another beautiful thing I attach to music is its connection with nature. My guitar is a piece of wood, so from my perspective, I am playing a tree and the tree is playing me! It’s a relationship. Everything is musical in nature, it’s doing sounds. Birds are singing, workers on the streets, we just have to listen.   

When we met, I was playing “Winter is coming” which will be my first release from an EP called "O", that is about the flow of seasons and how it mirrors the circle of life.  This song is about taking action and "climbing up the hole" or in other words, facing mountains. 

What inspires me is the way I chose to react to pain and find my ways out and I translate it into emotions. This perspective is what defines my lyrics in general and the reason I write about positive things.
If you truly pay attention at the beauty that surrounds you, you can chose to see art everywhere, anywhere, within others and within you.

“Don't Fit the Mold” / Interviewing a Yellow Jacket
gilet jaune

I was in Paris this week, and obviously, as a Journalist specialized in portraits of game-changers and rule-breakers, I ought to attend a yellow-jacket march.

As I was walking down Montmartre, I spotted a group of them, looking for the rest of the regiment. 

We made acquaintance:

“Be careful, walking around with your camera... Some of the YJ hate Journalists'“ they said, while handing me some artificial tears in case I’d get gassed.

“At the Champs Elysees last week, we saw some of them got beaten up and get their cameras crushed. It’s no laughing matter.

To be honest, we don’t trust the mass media anymore, they lie too much. So Journalists get stigmatized.

For instance, BFM TV claimed we were “1500” last week. Look at the pictures on my phone. This is ridiculous. They make the movement look smaller than it is, because they are scared.

I know you are an alternative media, but just beware.” 

Next, I asked him what he had against the government:

“We are cash cows to them. Constantly taxed.

For instance, my dad has worked for 40 years and keeps paying loads of taxes.

We go on holidays, and when we return, we notice the government has voted new laws in the meantime, or added more taxes.

The solution? I think that Macron should listen to people and ask us for our opinion. Let the people vote. And implement a real Liberty - Equality - Fraternity”.

I asked what triggered his willingness to revolt.

“Well, I’ve been in the army for 15 years and over there, I realized we were mere pawns of the State, formatted.

Selling weaponry, destroying countries, building them back and watching citizens suffer.

After the army, I worked in the Antarctic Ocean for a year, surrounded by penguins and sea elephants.

So when I got back to France, after being so connected to nature and animals, I got a slap in my face.

We are destroying the world. I see politicians and lobbies place money before anything else. That’s hypocrisy. I am scared for my children. Which is also why I am marching today. I questioned myself a lot. And the capitalistic system. I don’t want them to tell me one day “What have you done? How could you leave us a planet like this and not fight?!”.

I know it’s not easy, we work all day, we go home… But my message to people is: take a step back and analyze what is going on. Don’t fit the mold.”