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May 2020 Editor’s Letter: Why Covid-19 Cannot Stop Creativity

Imaan Hammam’s self-portrait for Vogue Arabia May 2020

As we wrap every issue, I usually send a message to the Vogue Arabia team asking for two hours without any messages or emails. Th­is is the time when I write my editor’s letter. While being at home might make it seem like we have more spare time available, in our case, fashion media still produces print and digital content, with multiple restrictions making our jobs more complicated – which means our home office life has become particularly busy. ­This is by no means a complaint, rather, it is further proof that our lives have changed, and that Covid-19 is affecting our routines, even if we are shielded from it in the comfort of our homes.

Eva Herzigová’s self-portrait for Vogue Arabia May 2020

One of the most challenging aspects of making a magazine while under lockdown is the production of fashion shoots. Models, photographers, stylists, and beauty teams seem more active than ever on social media, sharing live tutorial videos and posting their archives, but that magical moment when we all come together to give birth to a beautiful image seems like a distant reality. Still, the pages of the magazine need to be filled; the adversities can’t allow Covid-19 to win. ­This made us think: If the world is practicing new skills and we are invited to do more and more with our own hands, why not ask our cover stars to produce, style, and photograph their cover shoots? I have to say that I was completely blown away by the quality of the images that we received from our fantastic casting, including supermodels Eva Herzigová, Imaan Hammam, Nora Attal, and Constance Jablonski, who photographed themselves while in isolation at their homes. ­They also did their own makeup and wore their own clothes.

Constance Jablonski photographed by her boyfriend Matthias Dandois for Vogue Arabia May 2020

More than just highlighting the creative skills of the women gracing this month’s edition, the Do It Yourself issue is part of our ongoing #StayHome campaign that aims to encourage our community to adopt the prescribed safety procedures communicated by the healthcare authorities in each country. Last month, when we reinvented some of our most iconic front pages with protective face masks as part of this same campaign, we could never have predicted the disruptive impact of this idea, with the images being shared by our cover stars, including Nancy Ajram and Adriana Lima. Th­e reconceived covers reached more than 124 million people, and also inspired many readers at home to create their own images and drawings with protective masks.

Nora Attal’s self-portrait for Vogue Arabia May 2020

On this note, it is with a sense of mission that we dedicate the first feature this month to two very special women on the frontline of the Covid-19 crisis. Beyond being friends for more than 20 years, Dr Fatima Alkaabi and Dr Shamma Khalifa Al-Mazrouei are two extraordinary individuals, bravely working with patients at Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Khalifa Medical City. A big thank you to them and their teams. We could not do it without you.

Originally published in the May 2020 issue of Vogue Arabia

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