This Thanksgiving, Marin native Ghazaleh Khalifeh will be away from home for the first time. As recipient of her school’s French exchange scholarship, she’ll be spending the school year studying her craft at Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne, one of the top fashion schools in Paris. Last June she was also named grand prize winner of the $25,000 Geoffrey Beene Design Scholarship by the Council of Fashion Designers of America in New York, where she shared the stage with Carolina Herrera, Diane von Furstenberg and former Marinite Peter Som.
Describe your personal style. My personal style I would say is an eclectic cross-cultural mélange of both past and present.
What are you wearing? A dress by Manoush over a black unitard, high-heeled black oxfords and old jewelry, including an antique bracelet.
Who are your fashion influences? French couturiers, Björk, Erte, geishas, Rei Kawakubo, mimes, my mother and more.
Where do you love to shop in Marin? The Dance Shop in San Rafael. It is an incredibly small store and yet packed with wonderful things such as black jersey leotards, opaque tights, black patent tap shoes, ballroom dancing T-strap pumps, knitted pants and nude-colored bodysuits.
What is always in your bag/pockets? Telephone, wallet, camera, journal, ballet slippers, letters to be mailed, an antique hand mirror, a box of bobby pins and Smith’s Rosebud Salve. (Sometimes my toy poodle likes to sit in my purse too with her head out and go on adventures with me.)
What is your best cheapo secret? Finding very affordable and very beautiful robes, shirts, embroidered slippers and more at hidden stores in Chinatown.
What’s your fashion pet peeve? Individuals who lack personal style.
What is your view of Marin style? Well, speaking of the individuals here whose style I admire, the word I must use to describe it is intelligent. There are a lot of people who have moved to Marin from around the world, and a lot of native Marin residents who have traveled all around the world. I think open-minded appreciation for other cultures brings a lot of substance and depth to their style.
Where do you love to eat in Marin? One of the many places is the Left Bank restaurant in Larkspur. I love everything about it, from the ambience to the food. I order my favorites, “les profiteroles” and the champagne-and-cognac blend “April in Paris.” It is a wonderful and lively place!
How do you spend your weekends? I love to spend my time going to places like the farmers’ market and the antiques stores of San Anselmo; seeing foreign films in Mill Valley; going for walks through Chinatown; walking the streets and stairwells of Sausalito; driving to the beaches; making art; spending time with people I love; spending time alone.
Where do you go to pamper yourself? Aside from getting an occasional facial at Evo Spa or an occasional massage at the Bay Club Sanctuary Spa, I most like to pamper myself in the comfort of my own home. Equipped with a view of Mount Tam and the sound of birds chirping outside, my house is my own sanctuary of sorts.
What was the last book you read and why? Madeline and the Gypsies, by the inspiring Ludwig Bemelmans, who always writes and illustrates such lighthearted, colorful and lively tales!
How would your friends describe you? Passionate, dramatic, imaginative and in the exact words of my good friend Felix, “crazy, inspired, the very definition of unique…regular comparisons don’t fully describe the strangeness of her mind.”
What was the last movie you saw? Chinese Box, directed by Wayne Wang. I’ve seen it several times.
If your life were a movie, what would be your theme song? There are some aspects of the song “Isobel” by Björk I can relate to: the part about a girl who was born in a forest and later grew up only to realize that everything on the forest floor had turned into large skyscrapers and that she was in a city. I, having grown up and spent my childhood in a place like Marin, lush with nature, will soon find myself living alone in a big city too.