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Letter from the Editor: Why September is All About Hope

Manuel Arnaut

Vogue Arabia Editor-in-Chief Manuel Arnaut. Photographed by Ethan Mann

I was about to begin dinner with a friend when my phone became inundated with videos of two horrific explosions, followed by a blood-colored cloud. It looked like Beirut, but we didn’t want to believe this could be happening in the city we both love so much (my friend is half-Lebanese). Was this some sort of prank? Or a scene from an action movie? It wasn’t. In seconds, one of the most beautiful places in the world, inhabited by the kindest and happiest people, was on the ground. And with it, the dreams and hopes of millions of Lebanese, already shattered from a year that has been so hard on the country.

The hours following the explosion are still blurred in my mind. While I was desperately checking in on all my friends and industry colleagues, our digital team started to work immediately on stories focusing on how to help the main NGOs on the ground. We also quickly decided to donate the revenue of the cover sales from our June issue, “Love Letter to Lebanon”, to the Lebanese Red Cross. It is the minimum we could do for a city that has given us so much.

In the wake of the explosion, it was impressive to see how Lebanese far and wide united to rebuild Beirut. Civilians with brooms in their hands were doing what the government wasn’t. One of the things I noticed was all the young people on the streets. We sometimes consider the younger generations as entitled and not as actively involved in society as much as we would like them to be. In Beirut, we witnessed the exact opposite. In this issue, with this spirit of reconstruction, we are carrying a six-page portfolio with emerging Beirut-based designers, working on rebuilding their ateliers with hope and conviction. I offer them all of my support.

This September, for the first time in Vogue’s 128-year history, all 26 editions have consolidated under a singular editorial theme of Hope. I decided to dedicate our first cover to this young generation of Lebanese, represented by the brave Mila Abouchalbak. At only seven years old, Mila saw her family lose their home, yet she continues to have faith in her country and future. This is what her eyes show us in the magnificent images shot in Beirut by Tarek Moukaddem and styled by Amine Jreissati. I couldn’t think of a better image to capture the notion of Hope.

Also Read: 26 Vogue Editors-in-Chief On The Images That Bring Them Hope In 2020

Along with Lebanon, I’ve been closely following the many episodes of women being harassed in the region, and in particular in Egypt. It pains me that in this day and age, women continue to be deprived of security. One of the things I believe is equally shocking is the continuous shaming and blaming of women, who all too often feel discouraged to speak up against the men who harass them. This quickly became another topic I wanted to tackle this month. I called my dear friend, actor Hend Sabri, to speak to her about the issue. Along with a successful career filled with awards – in front of and now behind the camera – Hend is a woman I truly admire for her views, her sophistication, and her outspoken voice on the topic of female harassment. To my joy, Hend accepted my invitation and now shines on our cover, with “break the silence” inked on her hand.

As September is traditionally a month when fashion is key, even in the current non-glossy times, we still want to keep you updated with the new collections. Now, we focus on fashion that is made to last, making sure that most of the looks we are featuring in the issue showcase timeless style and quality that you will cherish forever – and don’t miss our editorial featuring gorgeous vintage pieces mixed with new styles.

It this moment when the world is going through such a tough transformation, I ask you to continue to support our regional designers; be inspired by the local labels we proudly carry this month and every month. Shot in Riyadh, a “see now, buy now” portfolio made in Arabia will enrich your closet, in return for your help in encouraging our homegrown fashion industry. For a more dramatic you, couturier Krikor Jabotian also gives us a preview of his latest collection, bursting with dreamlike designs with architectural construction. Suffice to say, we couldn’t hope for more.

Read Next: Vogue Arabia September 2020: Regional Heroes Unite For A Global Message of Hope

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