It was the dress that had the entertainment world buzzing.
When Bollywood actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan wore a floral embroidered gown by Lebanese designer Rami Kadi on the red carpet at Cannes last week – with purple lipstick that took Twitter by storm – the fashion press praised her choice.
But Lebanese singer Myriam Fares wants to set the record straight: while Bachchan was the first to wear that ensemble in public, 33-year-old Fares had it first.
Her Instagram account supports her claim – an image posted on May 8 shows her in the Kadi creation before taking the stage for a private performance at a wedding in Dubai.
Speaking at the Mawazine Festival in the Moroccan capital of Rabat, Fares says she is pleased that Kadi is getting the acclaim she believes is his due.
“I have no problem with Aishwarya wearing the dress because she wore it after me,” Fares says with a laugh.
“I would like to think that Aishwarya saw me wearing it and liked what she saw and wanted to wear it. Everybody knows that I kick-started the career of the designer of that dress, Rami. I met him when he first came out of college and I felt he had a lot of talent and I wanted to help him.”
Fares’s Mawazine performance on Sunday night was one of her biggest since becoming a mother for the first time – her son Jayden was born in February.
She says the new responsibility has made her extremely aware of the need to balance her career with family life.
“For example, I arrived here on the day of the show at 6am and I will leave directly after the show and go straight back home,” she says.
“I am in control of my schedule and I am blessed to have a husband who understands what I do, enjoys the arts in general and supports me in all my endeavours.
“Now, with the baby, I can say that it has not been a big challenge. Yes, you do get tired at times, but it has been great. I really feel blessed.”
Fares adds that motherhood was literally a dream come true.
The stirring ballad Ghafi, which appeared on last year's album Aman – and the video for which featured a heavily pregnant Fares – was actually written six years ago.
“I will tell you something that I haven’t shared with the press before,” she says. “Back then, I remember going to bed and having a dream where I had a baby. In the dream we were in a state of war and I am running cradling the baby in my arms, and all I was thinking was that I didn’t care whether I lived or died – as long as the baby was OK.
“A week later, [composer] Salim Salama came to me with that song and as soon as he put it on, I remembered that dream and I knew I needed to have it. I recorded it and put it on my album – before I was pregnant – because I had a feeling that during the time the album was out I would have a child.”
Work has already begun on a sixth album, says Fares.
“As always, I am going to try different things and incorporate as many different Arab styles and accents that I can in the songs,” she says.
“Because I have become successful in performing tracks in Egyptian and Gulf styles, people now expect me to keep trying different things with each album.”
Unlike Emirati-Lebanese singer Diana Haddad – her fellow Mawazine Festival headliner, who recently announced a duet with an “international” singer for an upcoming new album – Fares says she has no plans for any similar collaborations.
Her duet with Flo Rida for an oriental fusion of his hit Wild Ones, part of the 2013 season of MBC's Coke Studio Middle East, was strictly a one-off affair.
“I am going to be totally honest with you,” she says. “No Arab singer has recorded a song with an international act and had that track become a success outside the region.
“I just am happy that people in the Arab world like me for who I am. Now, that song with Flo Rida came as a request from MBC for their programme and we both got paid for it.
“But for me to pay an international act so he can sing a duet for me, that’s just never going to happen.”
• For the latest updates from the Mawazine Festival, visit www.thenational.ae/blogs/scene-heard.