Follow Vogue Arabia

Editor’s Letter: Celebrating the Centuries-Old Connection Between Sports and Fashion

Vogue Arabia editor-in-chief Manuel Arnaut. Photo: Ziga Mihelcic

With the Olympic Games approaching, we are dedicating this issue of Vogue Arabia to the world of sports, to how we relate to our bodies, and to the intricate correlation between athletics and fashion across centuries. Looking at history, a figure in motion has always pushed designers to find solutions for facilitating performance through style – from sketching new silhouettes that transformed the aesthetic of a determined era to developing new textiles with the support of science. All these changes are usually accompanied by drastic social disruption, as the relationship we have with our figures – what to show, what to hide – has long been quite turbulent, even if sports justify specific dress codes that can be considered more risqué. As an example, I recall when Egypt’s three-time Olympian swimmer Farida Osman told us in a previous interview about the backlash she received when wearing her competitive bathing suit.

As a former athlete myself, representing my national gymnastics team in multiple European and world championships, I have the biggest respect for many of the fantastic heroes we are highlighting in this issue. From my own sports career, I remember the daily commitment necessary to endure all the hard work at the gym, the constant pain of having to live with twisted ankles or red muscles; but also the more personal hardships like missing family gatherings and birthday parties. However, I made friends for life, and I believe my me in this field taught me lessons that still guide me today.

A 1942 Vogue July cover photographed by Toni Frissell

When we started working on this month’s cover, I became obsessed with a vintage American Vogue cover from 1942 that, although not related to sports, projected a patriotism and pride that I too wanted to achieve. I’m deeply honored that we were able to depict this idea in a majestic way, featuring two W iconic pioneers from the region. Hailing from Morocco, Nawal El Moutawakel is the first-ever Arab and Muslim woman to win an Olympic gold medal. This incredible victory took place in Los Angeles in 1984 when she earned her title by more than half a second as she crossed the finish line of the 400m hurdle event. Representing Saudi Arabia, taekwondo star Dunya Aboutaleb is the first woman from the Kingdom to qualify for the Olympic Games, making her debut in Paris next month. Observing this cover and its symbolic value, I can’t help but smile and feel inspired. Separated by decades yet united by passion and commitment, El Moutawakel and Aboutaleb stand for the past, the present, and the future of Arabia’s female power. And that is a priceless achievement, whether we bring home gold again or not.

Originally published in the July/August 2024 issue of Vogue Arabia

View All
Vogue Collection