Unless you have been living under a rock, you will have, somehow, come into contact with Natalie Shustova. Whether it’s at a glamorous event filled with the who’s who of fashion, spending too much time strolling through her enviable Instagram or simply a client at her lawyers firm – of which she is partner, of course – this woman boasts beauty, brains and a brand you just can’t fault.
Striding into our office, hair slicked back into her signature style bun, that unmistakeable crimson lip (it’s Tom Ford Lip Color in Wild Ginger, I had to ask) and the prettiest pair of heels you ever did see (a comment to which the reply is, “oh the shoes were a gift from Sarah Jessica Parker!”), you could pick this silhouette out of a crowd anywhere. A social media following of over 40 thousand people, four jobs (she’s also a founding member of Blue Marlin Ibiza Dubai), raising a family of three and still snapped and papped at every social event in the city – how does this woman do it and where did it all begin?
As we chat over a cup of coffee Natalia tells me, “I was born in Belarus, spent my childhood in Siberia before moving to Russia and then relocating Dubai.” If you ever get the chance to ask Natalia about her career, a conversation which I’ve actually eavesdropped on a few times, the answer will explicitly be “I’m a lawyer.” But you can’t help but wonder, a woman with such a natural flare for fashion and credentials brands will pay for, aren’t you in the wrong field? “I’ve always loved fashion, but as a business savvy woman I wanted to build a career for myself, and thought fashion wouldn’t allow that. So I became a lawyer and I’ve been practicing in Dubai for 10 years now. I started going to events and people began approaching me asking me ‘who are you wearing, where can I follow your style, where can I get that outfit’, so I decided it was time to set something up for myself”. If you’re familiar with Natalia’s style, you’ll need no explanation as to why she was continuously approached, and if you’re not, the 37-year old simply explains her style as “expect the unexpected!”
And where does The Luxury Closet (TLC) come into it? “As a girl who has been collecting fashion for years, I’m always keeping an eye out for brands and platforms where I can get my hands on a vintage Chanel,” she explains. “I was told about TLC, but was quite sceptical at first, because the general population in this region can afford luxury items, so why would they need to sell and buy second hand? I didn’t think the market existed here! But one step into the Million Dollar Closet event changed my mind. Most of the items stocked at TLC are brand new and in perfect condition! There are also loads of collectables which people hunt around the world for. It was a great discovery for me”. And before I even ask about her feelings towards winning our Chanel bag, she says “and owning a Chanel bag is every girls dream! It’s my favourite designer every time.”
Me – “and aside from Chanel, who are your favourite designers?”
Shustova – “to me, it’s Chanel or it’s just whatever”.
Looks like we picked the right winner then!
She cites her style icons as Anna Dello Russo and Victoria Beckham. An usual pairing? We thought so too… With sartorial styles that couldn’t be more ying and yang, Natalia explains, “Anna has no age. She is a fashion freak, a fashion victim and a fashion icon. She doesn’t care about the haters, she’s super eclectic, super crazy and never follows rules. She dictates what is going to be cool in fashion. And Victoria proves that, at any point in your life, you can reinvent yourself and be as a successful as you were before. She’s made everyone forget about when she lived in Lala Land, and made a real name for herself in fashion!”
If there was ever any incline in your mind about fashion appearances and influencing being a somewhat mindless task, a small chat with Natalia will soon clear that up. Words such as “brand”, “consult”, “strategy” and “marketing” are repeatedly thrown out there, a testament to her business savvy nature and intelligent outlook on, not just fashion, but brand globalization. Her empire, which she so modestly refers to as “fashion adventures”, is growing every day, but don’t for a second think it’s gone to her head. “I come from a very small town and I always used to open fashion magazines and dream of being in that world, so the fact i’m living my dream now makes me feel like a very lucky woman. Every day I think ‘is this really my life? Somebody wake me up’!” It’s it’s ok to be in awe of this woman, we are too!