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  • Writer's picturePatrick Cabasset

Aydha Mehnaz, patron of the Fashion Business class of 2022

The inspirational patron of the ESMOD Fashion Business class of 2022, for

undergraduate and post-graduate students alike, tells us about her love of

fashion, her admiration of Mugler and her gratitude for her ESMOD education.

Aydha Mehnaz, Head of Celebrity and Media Relations at Mugler

Aydha Mehnaz, Head of Celebrity and Media Relations at Thierry Mugler, didn’t

waste any time after completing her 2-year master’s course at ESMOD between

2017 and 2019. Originally from Bangladesh, she had initially undertaken very serious

studies in the fields of biochemistry and biotechnology before turning her attentions

to her real childhood passions: fashion and beauty! Her thesis, which she wrote

during her internship at Mugler, focused on luxury brands and fragrances and was

entitled ‘Understanding the relationship between luxury fashion brands and

fragrances’. After a brief stint in the digital field at international press office KCD, the

elegant campaigner for ‘modest fashion’ (linked to her religion) began a new chapter

when she returned to L’Oréal in 2020, again working for luxury brand Mugler, where

she now combines her loves of fashion and fragrance.

As patron of the ESMOD Fashion Business class of 2022, this past student embodies

all the charm of a young person with a rapidly advancing career.

Planet ESMOD: Reading your LinkedIn profile, it seems you went from

biochemistry and biotech to fashion in the blink of an eye. How did it actually

come about?

Aydha Mehnaz: Fashion has always been important to me. As a child, I grew up

watching Fashion TV and would try to imitate the top models I saw on the catwalk in

my little bedroom. I also had a very early fascination with matching sets, and colour

schemes in particular, so if I was wearing pink, everything I wore had to be pink, from

head to toe. Especially for traditional holidays like Eid. At one point I would change

my outfit five times a day! (laughs). It wore my mother out, of course, but my aunts

loved it and were constantly taking photos of me. Those are my happiest childhood

memories. Obviously, when you’re growing up, your parents want you to choose to

study more practical or ‘serious’ things than fashion; you have to be a lawyer, a

doctor, a banker, etc. I decided to change course after these supposedly more

serious studies and go into fashion. Only I wouldn’t have made it without the

unconditional support of my brother. The deal was to let me spend a year in fashion

studies and if it didn’t work out, I’d go back to biotech. I only had a year to prove that

this new direction was the right one for me.

P. E.: So why did you choose ESMOD and Paris for this new course of study?

A. M.: Paris is still the centre of the fashion world, and ESMOD is the oldest fashion

school in the world! I’ll always remember my interview video call with the school in

Paris, me still in Bangladesh; the ESMOD communications lecturer kept me online for

an hour and a half in order to understand who I really was and where my passion for

fashion came from. This school gave me my chance.

“It’s up to you to create your own destiny with the tools

ESMOD gives you”—Aydha Mehnaz.

P. E.: Did your studies live up to your expectations?

A. M.: Of course! The best thing for me was the sense of autonomy the school gives

you. You’re given the tools to understand how companies on this side of the world

are run, but it’s up to the students themselves to get the best out of what the school

has to offer. They do help, support and monitor you, of course, but you have to find

what you’re looking for yourself. It’s up to you to create your own destiny using the

tools ESMOD gives you. The school puts you at the centre of the fashion world, but

once you’re there you have to learn, observe and absorb everything. It was this

autonomy that I really liked here and that still serves me today.

Aydha Mehnaz during the ESMOD Fashion Business graduation ceremony

P. E.: Having transitioned from student life to being a recognised professional

in the sector, do you have any advice for the school?

A. M.: It would be good if the school could provide students with even more support

on a personal level, maybe with individual coaching before each internship, or just

giving everyone more guidance. Many students manage just fine by themselves, of

course, just like I did, but there are also some who get lost. Paris isn’t always easy for

foreign students, not least because of the potential language barrier. So helping them

would be a good thing for everyone, I think.

P. E.: Being familiar with the aesthetics of Thierry Mugler, which promote a

sensual, often uncontrollable woman with a combative body and who is hyper-

sexualised in terms of both her appearance and life in general, how do you deal

with your own zest for ‘modest fashion’? What is your take on this sexual

approach that is part of the brand’s DNA?

A. M.: Of course, if you look back at the archives and the various exhibitions

dedicated to the brand, such as Couturissime, which is currently on at the Brooklyn

Museum in New York [editor’s note: until 7 May 2023], you’ll see clear evidence of

this sexuality. But this aspect has been brought up to date, so it's not as shocking as

it used to be. These days, a woman can be smart, sexy and confident just for herself,

and Mugler, for me, represents a strong, self-assured woman. When I wear a Mugler

jacket, for example, I always feel strong. The cuts are so sharp, with dominant

shoulders and a fitted waist. The power you can obtain through clothing is limitless, it

has no boundaries. The sexiest thing for a woman today is to have the power to

choose who she really wants to be, the power to remain true to herself, in tune with

herself, in any situation. This notion of sexiness or brazen sexuality has been

modernised to the extent that it is no longer as extreme an approach as it was in the

days of the early Mugler collections. There’s been so much progress with regard to

equal rights for women that they are now responsible for who they are or who they

want to be. If I compare this with my mother’s or grandmother’s generation, for

example, I’m the first one to have had the opportunity to study and work abroad.

Being a woman today means having real power, but there is still progress to be

made, of course. It takes time, but there’s always room for progress.

Originally from Bangladesh, Aydha Mehnaz has won over L'Oréal, Mugler and Paris itself!

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