If you're into the latest Bravo franchise Real Housewives of Dubai, then you know that those women are nothing to play with. From their sense of style to their charisma, they exude distinctive auras that can only be described as luxurious.
Jamaican-born fashion designer Lesa Milan knows luxury well. Aside from being crowned Ms. Jamaica in 2012, she takes pride in her role as a mother and her budding fashion empire Mina Roe. Born out of the frustration of outdated maternity wear, Mina Roe captures the latest trends and fashion styles to accommodate expectant mothers.
RHOD star Lesa Milan sat down with EBONY to discuss her excitement of joining the new franchise and her fashion brand Mina Roe.
EBONY: How does it feel to be one of the inaugural Dubai housewives?
Lesa Milan: It's such a privilege and such an honor. It's been good. So far, we've been doing our best to manage our social media interactions the press and the other "Housewives." But it's been amazing and a great experience so far.
Can you speak to how this show merges and embraces a multitude of cultures in a space that is relatively untapped in mainstream Western culture?
Dubai is a melting pot. So you have people of all different races, ethnicities and religions, all living together in harmony. But as a woman of color, Black people in general, we are really, really the minority in Dubai. So for us to have three Black women on The Real Housewives of Dubai cast is actually major. Kudos to Bravo and Truly Original for seeing what we already knew we had—Black girl magic!
It's been quite an interesting experience for us as well. Personally going into this, I wanted to not only be a great representation for myself, but I wanted to be a great representation for women that look like me. I think so often we still are faced with the connotation that Black women on TV are instantly going to be screaming and shouting, which is a really negative stereotype and narrative. I wanted to be very conscious of not doing that. I feel like we have so much more to offer. I wanted that to be the focus, especially on my first season.
Dubai is often synonymous with luxury. What does luxury mean for you?
Luxury to me means access to happiness and fulfillment. However, I feel like true luxury is something you cannot put a price on as you cannot buy the feeling of happiness, peace and fulfillment. So I believe when you're happy within yourself and feel at peace within yourself, that's the luxury that money can't buy.
Your fashion line Mina Roe focuses on stylish comfortability for mothers. Let's talk about the sustainability aspect of it.
Mina Roe prioritizes sustainability all around. From our packaging to the materials and products that we choose, it's our focus. Additionally, the beautiful thing is we started as a maternity brand; however, one can wear our clothes throughout their motherhood journey. For example, a pregnancy dress from Mina Row is also versatile enough to comfortably wear for nursing or simply post pregnancy wear. We wanted to keep that because we think fashion should not be at the cost of the environment. It's so important that we look amazing, but we must treat mothers—our first home— and mother Earth in a positive and safe way as well.
We’ve seen celebs like Rihanna most recently rocking looks that aren’t commonly associated with “maternity fashion.” What was the thinking behind creating non-maternity wear?
We want to put an end to snapback culture. So often, women get pregnant, have their babies, and then immediately think they're going to fit into their pre pregnancy clothes, and that's not reality for most of us. During my pregnancy journey, I couldn't find maternity wear that really suited my style and made me feel confident. Because of that, we created non-maternity wear because we felt like there was a hole in the fashion industry that we could fill. We're so grateful that celebrities like Rihanna are out there wearing her bump out during her pregnancy. Individuals tend to dress a little bit more conservatively during this time but the messaging is that we want women to look and feel their best, whether pregnant or not.