The Palestinian-Irish style blogger, Marwa Biltagi shares her penchant for textures, blazers, and exotic leathers.
A voice for modest fashion, Palestinian-Irish influencer Marwa Biltagi describes her personal style as tailored and feminine. Born and raised in California, she credits her Irish mother for instilling in her a ladylike aesthetic. “By middle school, I was wearing high heels and dresses every day,” she says with a laugh. “I also learned modest dressing from my mother. Before she met my father and converted to Islam, she was going to be a nun.” Expect to find pastel pantsuits and fringe jackets by Madiyah Al Sharqi, Self-Portrait frocks, and printed silk dresses courtesy of Gucci and Ralph Lauren in her closet. “What I put on is very intentional,” says the blogger, who launched Mademoiselle Meme in 2015 while living in Scotland. She has also cultivated an eye for texture. “I like details that add dimension to an outfit, whether it’s fringe, patent leather, sequins, or feathers,” she says while fluffing the ostrich feathers of a glossy Romani jacket. Exceptional pieces also include a Taller Marmo tinsel dress, embellished gowns by Amira Haroon, a navy embroidered pantsuit from Huishan Zhang, and an olive-green blanket coat by Mariam Al Sibai.
The scale of her passion for texture pours into her handbag collection. “I love bags made from exotic skins like python, crocodile, and ostrich,” she says. Combing through her repertoire, you’ll find a snakeskin Salvatore Ferragamo tote in rich sunset tones, and an ivory and taupe python Chloé bag. “It’s one of my favorites. I love how it adds so much texture to a regular outfit,” she shares. She also has an affinity for miniature bags. “Living in Europe and now in New York City, I needed something small and light that I can just grab and run out the door,” says Biltagi. She currently rotates between an art deco style Roksanda Ilincic blush pochette and Salvatore Ferragamo’s plexiglass Sofia bag.
“I have more than 200 abayas,” says Biltagi about her growing collection. “I love Bouguessa, because it has these overlays that look like trench coats. They are modest, timeless, and fluid for any situation.” Between racks of Grecian cut, lace-trim, and pleated abayas that she designed herself, you’ll find one of her latest additions – a standout gold brocade structured abaya by Beige.
For Biltagi, blazers are a style staple. “I like a structured blazer that’s fitted in the shoulders and swoops in at the waist,” she explains. A twist on the classic silhouette, two of her hero pieces are an hourglass double-breasted Balenciaga blazer and a black velvet Ralph Lauren blazer punctuated with a gold embroidered crest. “I love Ralph Lauren. It’s such a quintessential American brand that’s timeless and classic. I’m all about that preppy look,” she says. At the core of her wardrobe are neutral jackets such as an ivory Stella McCartney and a black box cut Marc Jacobs number that hits below her hips. “I’m a modest dresser, so a sharp jacket is great for layering over short sleeves and to instantly make an outfit more polished.”
Something About Mary Jane
“Mary Jane heels are my type of shoe,” says the blogger. “The style is so flirty, and I like how it makes my legs look.” Among the many ankle-emphasizing silhouettes, her favorite is a pair of Miu Mius in ox blood patent leather and featuring crystal studs. A pair of sparkly Mary Janes featuring a hot pink mohawk by Dolce & Gabbana gave her New York fashion week look a high-octane boost. “I bought them two seasons ago and I didn’t know how I was going to wear them because there was so much going on. I found a Sofie D’Hoore bubblegum pink coat and it just kind of snowballed from there,” she says. Prada kitten heel slingbacks in brocade, Tory Burch wedges featuring an ornate platform, and Gucci heels accented with its signature serpentine motif elevate her ladylike aesthetic. Her golden retriever, Jacques, proved he had great taste in shoes when he chewed on her Miu Miu glitter loafers. “I’m still heartbroken about those!”
The piece that completes her outfit formula is the hijab. “My hijab always comes last,” she explains. “It’s an accessory on its own. It’s like a crown on my head that needs to complement my outfit and not take away from it.” Indeed, you can expect to see Biltagi in jewel toned, silk headscarves by Haute Hijab and vibrant styles that range from Emilio Pucci’s signature kaleidoscopic print and Ralph Lauren’s heritage equestrian pattern, to Versace’s baroque motifs. It was a struggle to find veil pins and hijab umptas that are worn under the scarf to keep it in place while growing up, she shares. “My community in Orange County are mostly first-generation like myself and my husband. There weren’t that many businesses that catered to veiled women.” However, annual visits to Dubai fed her appetite for modest wear. “Those trips opened my eyes to fashion and Middle Eastern designers. Just seeing Arab women overseas made me more proud of my identity as a woman in a headscarf.”