Juman Malouf Biography

(Lebanese Author, Set Designer and Wife of American Filmmaker Wes Anderson)

Born: 1975

Born In: Beirut, Lebanon

Juman Malouf is a Lebanese writer, illustrator, costume designer, and voice actress who is also the longtime partner of American director, producer and writer Wes Anderson. She started her career designing theatre sets around New York, but soon launched her own fashion label, Charlotte Corday. However, she was dissatisfied with both and finally found her true calling when she began writing. The daughter of celebrated Lebanese novelist Hanan al-Shaykh, she wrote and illustrated her debut children’s fantasy book, The Trilogy of Two, released in 2015. She has credited her illiterate grandmother for influencing her storytelling and her mother for her fashion sense and writing style. She has contributed regularly to her partner’s movies by providing voice over to Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009), designing book covers for Moonrise Kingdom (2012) and creating character illustrations for his Oscar-nominated film The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014). She and her husband debuted as curators at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, Austria in November 2018, showcasing over 400 objects for the months-long exhibition, “Spitzmaus Mummy in a Coffin and other Treasures”.

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Quick Facts

Age: 47 Years, 47 Year Old Females

Family:

father: Fouad Malouf

mother: Hanan al-Shaykh

Partner: Wes Anderson (2010–)

Born Country: Lebanon

Novelists Illustrators

More Facts

education: Brown University

Career

After receiving her master’s degree in set and costume design, Juman Malouf began working as a set designer for theatres around New York. However, after working on several productions, she realized that she “didn’t like working with directors” due to her “own desire to create, versus working on someone else’s creation”. During the early 2000s, she joined forces with Jen Mankins and Jonathan Schmitt to launch the indie fashion label, Charlotte Corday. Unfortunately, she was again disappointed to realize that “fashion didn’t have the same depth that theater had”, as well as the fact that even though she “would design clothing based on a character, but the stories didn’t go on”.

Juman Malouf eventually began collaborating with her boyfriend, director Wes Anderson, on his films such as Fantastic Mr. Fox, Moonrise Kingdom and The Grand Budapest Hotel. Even though she resisted it for long, she finally began trying her hand at writing in the late 2000s. It not only granted her the wish “to be the world-maker”, but also allowed her full control over the creative process. In 2015, she released her first novel, The Trilogy of Two, a fantastical tale of the identical twin musical prodigies, Sonja and Charlotte, which she also illustrated with intricately detailed pencil drawings. While she felt very insecure about starting her writing career so late in her life, the book was received well with positive reviews and was featured into TIME magazine’s “Top 10 Children's Book of 2015” list.

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Family & Personal Life

Juman Malouf was born in Beirut, Lebanon in 1975 to novelist Hanan al-Shaykh and construction engineer Fouad Malouf. Born at the start of the Lebanese Civil War, she was only three months old when her mother fled the country with her, and her older brother Tarek, on borrowed money. They reached London on the last plane before the airport closed, but moved to Saudi Arabia shortly after as her father was posted in the Gulf when war broke out. The family often visited Lebanon, but eventually settled in London in the early 1980s. She has spent many summers at Antibes, France, where her maternal grandmother lived. Juman, who struggled with her identity due to displacement, attended an American school in London and “decided that I would be American”. However, she was fascinated with British and French history, from royal court scandals to fashion, particularly of the Victorian era, and also inherited a Dickensian humor from her mother’s writing style. She later moved to the United States and earned her bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts and Art History from Brown University. She then obtained an MFA from the Tisch School of the Arts for Set and Costume Design.

Relationships

Juman Malouf has been involved in a long-term relationship with American filmmaker Wes Anderson and lives with him in Paris primarily, even though they constantly travel all over Europe and the US. She has worked closely with her partner throughout his career. She voiced the character of Agnes in his 2009 stop-motion movie The Fantastic Mr. Fox. She designed the covers of the books shown in his 2012 coming-of-age drama Moonrise Kingdom, which Wes famously dedicated to her as a tribute to their “happy relationship and to the redemptive power of love itself”. For his 2014 film, The Grand Budapest Hotel, she created illustrated character sketches for the cast, which were "hung around the cast and crew's hotel” to set their mood and were also published in the movie's illustrated screenplay. By the time Wes was nominated for nine Oscars for the film in 2015, the couple was already together for 18 years. In 2016, she gave birth to their daughter, Freya, named after a character from the film The Mortal Storm.

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