While completing her bachelor’s degree in sociology from Chapman University in California, Saudi tastemaker Reem Al Sanea lived in Orange County and volunteered at the Tiyya Foundation for refugees and new immigrants before moving back to the region. She now divides her time between Khobar and Bahrain, but during her time away, she built a loyal following on Instagram by showcasing her SoCal lifestyle to her 832,000 followers. “I think it’s important to have representation,” Al Sanea says. “Spending most of my childhood in the States, I didn’t see women who looked like me in the media – with thick eyebrows, dark hair, and big lips.” This led to her “rejecting” her look and thinking she couldn’t be seen as beautiful by society. “I used to dye my hair very light and I would do funny things like thin out my eyebrows and wear colored contact lenses,” she reveals. “I’m glad girls can look up to women who represent them today. As I have gotten older, I have come to accept the look I was given. I not only want to create content that people like, but offer a strong vision of confidence, too.
Al Sanea defines her style as cute with a don’t-mess-withme attitude. “I’m obsessed with Helmut Lang and Alexander Wang. The clothes fit so well and these brands really know how to design for a feminine woman with a masculine edge,” she says. In her closet is a fire engine red Alexander Wang metallic minidress with chain straps and a denim mini skirt form Helmut Lang that she couples with a royal blue Prada T-shirt. As for the number of jeans that take up a full chunk of her wardrobe, she says, “I own more than 40 for sure. It’s the easiest thing to put on.” Counting Levi’s 505s, J Brand, 7 for All Mankind, Paige, and Frame, she pairs her laidback and cool denims with corduroy jackets from Dutil Denim and Brandy Melville.
I didn’t go to Beverly Hills much when I lived in Los Angeles,” Al Sanea says. Instead, she would stroll down Abbot Kinney Boulevard or skateboard through Venice Beach, mere blocks away from her abode. “The best sneakers to skateboard in are Vans, because they’re flat,” says Al Sanea, who has built up a collection of Vans Old Skool designs in signature black. She adds a classic to her rotation of sneakers by way of Nike’s Air Force 1. “You can wear them with anything, and they make you taller, because they have a nice little platform inside,” she explains. On occasion, she’ll trade her skateboard wheels for designer heels to hit up Ago in West Hollywood or Jon & Vinny’s in Melrose for the spicy fusilli pasta. “Gianvito Rossi is my favorite shoe designer, hands down,” she confesses. “He makes your foot look so beautiful and feminine,” she says, showcasing pointy pumps in black suede and leather with PVC panels.
This summer, Al Sanea will head to the South of France, visit her sister Hessah in London, and go on a girls’ trip to Mykonos. Her first step? Planning her outfits. “Anything white against my tan is going to pop and look really good,” she comments. She recently picked up a white minidress from Manning Cartell during a trip to New York City and a few scores from A.L.C., including the canary yellow Lita dress featuring cascading layers. “I’m going to wear a lot of flowy things that breathe, because I’m big on comfort,” she says. She completes her looks with a pair of light pink crocodile Dolce & Gabbana sandals with jewel details and easy-to-wear Bottega Veneta slides for the beach. “My summer bag is going to be a large tote. I have a classic Goyard that fits everything and can handle all my wear and tear. Also, I’m definitely going to pick up the Chanel bag with the sand before summer.” Her neon yellow Givenchy Horizon bag and Hermès Picotin bag in camel will also be packed.
Shades of Summer
Al Sanea has been wearing Roberi & Fraud slim-cut specs since the day she discovered them. “I wear the Betty pair all the time and I love the Gold Doris,” she says. “I’m glad skinny glasses are trending, because big glasses end up wearing me,” she laughs, putting on a pair of angular frames by Illesteva. When Al Sanea is not sporting ombré pink Cutler and Gross shades, she’s thriving in a pair of vintage 18ct Tiffany & Co. sunnies. “They’re so wild with an obnoxious red lens that distorts the world around you.
Building a successful following does come with rewards. “My Messika Move bracelet is my favorite piece, because it was my first big purchase. It’s a symbol for me that I did it. I also have an infinity ring from De Beers that I bought for myself, because I’ve always wanted a diamond ring,” she states. It’s not hard to see that Al Sanea has cultivated an everyday edit that elevates her look. On her left hand, a gold Rolex joins a stacking of two gold Cartier Love bracelets gifted by her father. On the right, light dances off a delicate Messika Skinny diamond bracelet. “I love that it’s so flexible and comfortable. I wanted a tennis bracelet for every day,” she says. Her next big splurge? Al Sanea has real estate on her mind. “I’m looking at a few properties, just to put my money in a safe place.”
Originally published in the June 2019 issue of Vogue Arabia.