As most of the world continues to #stayhome during lockdown, movements are restricted and physical contact with others is limited – creativity, however, is thriving. It seems slowing down life’s pace has sparked imaginations and new innovations, so Vogue Arabia decided to hand over the reins for its May 2020 cover story to four top models. Working in front of, and behind, the lens, each one styled and art directed their shoots for the aptly themed Do It Yourself issue.
With social distancing putting a halt to the usual Vogue productions, Editor-in-Chief Manuel Arnaut reveals that the brand had to get more inventive in its efforts to give readers the quintessential Vogue glamour and A-list power while also adhering to the rules and being conscious and sensitive towards the ongoing crisis. “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?” says Arnaut of enlisting supermodels Eva Herzigová, Imaan Hammam, Nora Attal, and Constance Jablonski to photograph themselves while in isolation at their homes. “I was completely blown away by the quality of the images that we received from our fantastic casting. They also did their own makeup and wore their own clothes.”
The shoots are stripped bare, offering a vision of a more simple life, with each model revealing how they are seizing the opportunity to reset and re-evaluate life’s necessities.
Imaan Hammam offers us a glimpse inside her New York City apartment, where verses of the Quran float through the soothing blue space. Ever since the lockdown, the Moroccan-Egyptian model begins her day by taking care of her mind with moments of meditation and introspection. She’s also devouring books and dreaming of lazy days on the beach. “I just finished The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak, The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran, and The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma,” she shares. For her styling for the shoot, she decided to reflect her roots, explaining, “I used scarfs from back home that remind me of Morocco and I’m also wearing an abaya that I got from a recent trip to the Gulf.”
Also in New York, model Constance Jablonski let her boyfriend, film photographer Matthias Dandois, document her time in isolation. The French model hopes to emerge stronger on the other side. Like many pet owners, she cherishes the moments when she can go outside for fresh air to walk her dog. While indoors, she is focusing on her passions, including playing piano and exercise. “Covid-19 has taught me the true value of things; what’s essential and what’s not,” she says. “I’m so happy to see nature is breathing again, pollution has dropped dramatically, and skies are more blue than ever before. We’ve seen crazy images of wildlife coming into empty cities – that’s quite magical.”
British-Moroccan model Nora Attal was initially grateful for lockdown’s slower pace of life after a manic Paris Fashion Week, yet the adjustment has become more testing, with the London-based model adopting a routine to keep her sane. “I was used to flying at least once a week, and meeting lots of people during shoots. Being in quarantine is a completely different world,” she explains. “I try to have a plan for each day so that I don’t get restless. It’s hard but I’m getting better.” Aware that the fashion industry and, indeed, her position in it is changing due to Covid-19, she believes the crisis will bring the industry back to its roots. “Maybe brands won’t feel the need to express their collections as fashion shows, but instead tap into different, more sustainable ways,” she says.
At home in Italy with her three boys, Czech supermodel Eva Herzigová, like all mothers, is juggling home life, work, and home-schooling. Not that she is complaining, admitting the situation has made her reassess her priorities. “I have now shifted towards nature, reading, and playing games with my boys,” she says, adding that she recognizes her fortune that her home also boasts a garden (featured in the cover) for the boys to run around.
As well as highlighting the creative skills of the May cover stars, the Do It Yourself issue is part of the ongoing Vogue Arabia #stayhome campaign. “The aim is to encourage our community to adopt the prescribed safety procedures communicated by the healthcare authorities in each country,” explains Arnaut. “Last month, when we decided to reinvent 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 from Nancy Ajram to Adriana Lima.”
Also in the May Do It Yourself issue, readers are invited to find inner calm by coloring in some of Vogue Arabia’s fashion shoots; HH Sheikha Intisar Al Sabah reveals how she is helping traumatized women; Monica Bellucci shares her beauty secrets; Tara Emad opens up in an honest and exclusive interview, while doctors Shamma Al Mazrouei and Fatima Al Kaabi offer an insight into life on the frontline at Sheikh Khalifa Medical City. Of course, there’s also plenty of beauty and fashion trends to keep you sartorially in check. Pick up a copy of Vogue Arabia’s May Do It Yourself issue, on shelves soon, and also available on Magzter.