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Manuel Arnaut and Diala Makki on Vogue Arabia’s April Issue and Coping with the Pandemic as a Fashion Magazine

Vogue Arabia readers were in for a treat last weekend as the magazine’s Editor-in-Chief himself shared details on the cover shoot and features from the April “Connected” issue. In a candid conversation between Manuel Arnaut and TV presenter Diala Makki on Dubai TV’s Mashaheer with Diala Makki, the editor shared his insights on the latest issue and what it means for a fashion magazine to exist during a pandemic.

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“I think for fashion publications like Vogue, we have a really essential role since we are at the base of the industry and we are very important in terms of the coordination between the readers, the clients, the brands and the local designers,” said Arnaut. “I feel that we have a double duty now,” he continued. “One, to inform, and the other to entertain. And, of course, since Vogue is a fashion magazine, we still need to make people dream.”

In its three-year history, Vogue Arabia has always strived to shine a light on regional designers, especially through its dedicated #BuyArabDesigners campaign. Now, more than ever, supporting local talent is of grave importance to Arnaut. “We really need to stick together and to support each other, and for the Middle East, it’s so important to be able to support the designers that are part of the fashion ecosystem,” remarked Arnaut. “I think that these are things that really bring us closer.” Speaking to Makki, Arnaut also reflected on the magazine’s ability to get through this challenging time which is rooted in Vogue‘s 127-year history. Having survived World War II, Vogue is experienced, Arnaut believes.

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From refugee to fashion darling, cover star Eman Deng’s rise to fame is the positive story we need during these tough times. Photography: Carla Guler

The editor also explained the reason why he opted against a high profile celebrity for the April 2020 cover and instead chose rising South Sudanese model Eman Deng. “We had shot another cover story earlier with a big, super famous celebrity,” revealed Arnaut. “But I thought that now is not the moment to do this type of journalism.”

He added: “Yes, this is the first-ever shoot that Eman has done, but I wanted to focus on the fact that we live in Dubai — one of the most incredible cities in the world,” continued Arnaut. “Of course, now that we are at home, it is not an easy situation for any of us. But still, we are safe, we are in this amazing country which is taking good care of us, and there are always worse cases. That was the message of this cover. It was to bring someone who has lived against all odds, someone who had to flee a war-torn country with her five siblings when she was nine years old, and who is now starting to be a very relevant model.”

On his hopes for the fashion industry coping with the pandemic Arnaut said, “Historically, we’ve seen that in moments when there are wars, or there are really big restrictions, what happens for the fashion industry is that it blooms in a much more sophisticated way.” He added that whatever the outcome may be, he is certain that “we will be different consumers and human beings.”

“I cannot wait to see everyone on the streets of Dubai, and in the malls,” continued Arnaut as he shared his vision of a future free of the pandemic. However, for now, we encourage you all to join us in our #StayHome campaign and to practice the safety measures put in place by your country’s government. Rest assured, Vogue Arabia is here for you.

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