Bold and brash, some people are made to speak their mind. Osama Chabbi is one of them. He’s funny too. If you haven’t already come across him on your Instagram feed, you might want to get caught up. French by birth, Tunisian by blood, the Dubai-based stylist is bringing the art of the fashion review back.
As a dynamic element of Farfetch’s private client team since 2019, Chabbi isn’t short of knowledge in the world of fashion. Having worked on various editorials with Nike, Bvlgari, Level Shoes, Bouguessa and Prada, he’s not short of experience either. But it’s his witty commentary that’ll reel you right in. And at just 26 years old, his best years are yet to come.
Raw in the very literal meaning of the word, Osa’s reviews have become a regional staple—with intentions to reach an international audience. His blend of criticism, humour and knowledge are breathing new life into the lost art of fashion criticism. We’re here for it.
Ahead of the carnival of shows coming up in the next wave of fashion weeks, we sat down with Chabbi to shoot the breeze and talk about his inspirations, motivation and overview of the industry in the region. Introducing Mr. Chabbi.
We know you as Osama Chabbi. But who is Andy?
Andy is somewhat of an alter-ego. It initially started as a joke and then it kind of stuck around. I showed up to the office wearing a very snobby pair of sunglasses and a bright knit polo which was a very preppy look for the usual minimalist me. I remember telling my friends ‘I feel like someone else in this fit, but it’s still very me’ and from then started a whole narrative about who Andy could potentially be. He’s of an older age, in his early 40s, lives between Soho in New York city and Sicily and is into contemporary art. He also owns Dalmatians, a lot of Dalmatians.
Why decide to leave France, the land of fashion and haute couture to try your luck in Dubai?
There are very few successful Arabs in the creative landscape in France and for some reason it felt socially and culturally challenging to fit-in in such a saturated industry. It also didn’t seem to have open arms for diversity. In 2016, I visited Dubai with my family and I immediately felt a sense of home here. The fashion scene seemed to very much be at its genesis too and that’s what drew me to the region.
Who or what inspires your work?
Everything, I observe people a lot. Whether It’s in the street, or on social, I like understanding one’s relationship to fashion and how it translates in their daily approach. My cultural heritage is also a major influence in my work as I’ve always had very close emotional ties to Tunisia. Our traditions, our traditional wear and folklore are amongst the things that moved me the most as a kid and also affect the way I perceive things and put them together.
Azzedine Alaïa embodies all of this to me, in all its glory and modernity. I’ve always had humongous inspiration for his work and the legacy He left behind. Despite not being into the design side of fashion, I find inspiration in his journey. His story and how much of our Tunisian heritage was able to cross borders.
What you have to offer content-wise is very daring. In the world of cancel culture, where do you think that your franc-parler fits in?
I believe it’s needed, especially with the quantity of information and visuals we consume on a daily basis online. It became very challenging for the main-stream fashion lover to make his or her own opinion on things as collaborations drop by the minute and it’s fashion week almost every day. This makes it quite hard for people to keep up as things appear at such a fast pace, so I feel like my straight-forwardness was well received as my thoughts are always articulated and justified.
It’s never a critique for the sake of critiquing, I share my opinions as a (picky) consumer and experienced stylist rather than just a fashion troll. I try to keep it positive and lighthearted, with loads of pop-culture references here and humour. You can be straight-forward as long as you’re respectful. As Arabs, we were raised with the thought that having a negative opinion on a creative body of work immediately makes you a ‘hater’. However, I feel like in today’s world, opinions and whoever stands for their own are valued even more than ever. It’s cool to speak your mind out.
How did the series of critiques begin?
I actually started doing the red-carpet reviews back in 2018 when I first moved to Dubai which were definitely more sarcastic and meme-based and were mostly read by my friends. It was nothing too serious. I interrupted it for a good while, but then the pandemic happened and digital fashion weeks started rolling. I realized it was the right time for me to put my thoughts out there and to be vocal about what I like, dislike and know. Everybody was online during that time. My tone has also evolved and matured throughout the years.
I started reviewing shows regularly this past summer since I discussed fashion a lot with my friends and this was a way to bring these discussions to life. It’s heartwarming to see how many people engage with my content, and how many people actually take the time to read my extended reviews until the end. It’s a very interactive thing, fashion is so intersectional that discussing a show review with friends opens the door to so many other conversations. The best feedback I’ve received so far is how educational and funny these series were. If you learn something and have a good laugh, I’m happy.
Are there areas of creation that you want to dabble into? What do you have in store for us in the times to come?
Maybe design, I’ve started designing a good chunk of the things I wear daily which is very convenient for me since It gives me the feeling of having a uniform. It’s still early for it. I feel like my creative process needs to gain more maturity and depth but that could be a potential area of development in the years to come. For now, I think fashion journalism could be a clear direction. I’d love to have my own talk show, I have a lot to say.