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Women in Vogue Through the Years Share Their Advice on Love, Life, and Femininity

On International Women’s Day and beyond, let these quotes from inspirational women from around the world be your guide.

Amina Muaddi, Huda Kattan, and Nadine Nassib Njeim, March 2022

Photo: Tom Munro

Amina Muaddi: “God tests you for a reason and that’s my outlook on life. I go from zero to a hundred very quickly, but I don’t hold grudges. I’m fiery and passionate. I’ve surrounded myself with people who genuinely love me and that’s happiness.”

Huda Kattan: “As you get popular and people start to criticize you, you really go deep inside and start questioning yourself, going through peaks and valleys of extreme anxiety. Today, I’m not ashamed that I don’t have it all together. I am a hot mess some days… Actually, I’m a hot mess almost every day – and I don’t have it all figured out. It’s OK.”

Nadine Nassib Njeim: “Positivity proves that life will remain beautiful and will go on, regardless of the difficulties a person is going through.”

Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, December 2021

Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak and her son, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. Illustration by Danielle Moore

On the achievements of Emirati women: “Emirati women have proven day after day that nothing is impossible with hard work, diligence, creativity, and hope for a prosperous future. With the completion of the modern state-building system, we will preserve the nation’s gains, capabilities, and achievements facilitated by God’s grace, and the efforts of our wise leadership, patriotism, and our responsibility towards it, has motivated us to continue the pursuit of our nation’s advancement over the next 50 years.”

Penelope Cruz, November 2021

Photo: Luigi and Iango

On motherhood, and her advice for young women: “When a young girl stops me on the street, I always say I’m no one to give advice, as I’m not very good at that. But if it’s a teenager who dreams of acting, I always tell them to prepare. Study, work on your craft, and have a plan B, just in case you don’t succeed, exactly like I did. And never do drugs. I don’t think of myself as a role model for anyone other than my children, as they see me every day, and the actions of their mother and father are the most important to them. This is a huge responsibility, and my biggest mission in life is to try to do that well.”

Mona Zaki, January 2021

Mona Zaki

Photo: Domen / Van de Velde

On the scarcity of leading roles for female stars: “It is an honor to be a woman. Arab feminine artists are not short of experience or popularity. It is all about producers. We, as actors, are lacking nothing, but we do lack the producer that has enough courage to give a woman the leading role. Like any other successful artist, I consider this to be a pure injustice.”

HRH Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud, December 2020

HRH Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud

HRH Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud photographed by her daughter, Princess Sarah bint Faisal Al Saud

On making progress while holding on to your roots: “Despite our recent achievements and accomplishments, we are nowhere near the end of this journey. While we’ve made progress, we’re not there yet. But we can be. To overturn decades of systemic social, cultural, and economic inequity, it’s not enough just for governments to implement new rules, regulations, and laws (which alone don’t change behavior) – private sector attitudes and society’s perceptions must change as well. We need a new mindset; one where building more equitable and tolerant societies is a collective ambition, a shared responsibility, and a common obligation of citizenship. And we need to do it for the right reasons, not as an ambition to “Westernize” but as an ambition to evolve and advance, while maintaining the traditions and beliefs of our beautiful and rich culture.”

Hend Sabry, September 2020

Hend Sabri, Vogue Arabia September 2020

Photo: Ämr Ezzeldinn

On creating a safe space for women to report crimes against them: “It is necessary to educate young people and encourage girls to break the barrier of fear and expose the perpetrators. In law, to describe an incident as a crime, there must be a victim. When she is silent, the misconduct cannot be legally documented and will remain a social problem. Women must contribute to the documentation of delinquency in order to build a system that legally protects them. This requires courage, which in turn calls for a healthy society and the support of others, whether family or community, and this is what is lacking.”

Sarah Burton, May 2019

Photo: Courtesy of Alexander McQueen

“Being at McQueen, it’s always been about empowering women, it’s always been about a woman who’s strong. The Alexander McQueen women is very much a woman who is strong for herself. I really believe that a woman shouldn’t just have to dress like a man to feel strong. That’s why I really love to play with tailoring mixed with a woman’s dress. On Vittoria [Ceretti] there was a jacket with an exploded rose at the hem. It has a masculine tailoring at the top and then a very feminine rose. I want to show how important it is to be a woman still. You don’t have to take away your emotions and your feelings—it’s okay to feel vulnerable and have imperfections. I think that idea of strength and femininity are really important. I always like to say that in a way it’s almost like soft armor for women, so that you feel empowered, but not overwhelmed.”

Diane Von Furstenberg

Photo: Courtesy of DVF

On her life at 73 : “In 1974, I created the wrap dress. Well, people say I created it, but the truth is the wrap dress created me. I was 26 years old, and it made me feel so confident, and the more confident I was, the more confidence I could sell. The dress became a symbol of women’s liberation.”

On changing women’s wardrobe: “I’d like to think that my contribution to a woman’s wardrobe—and therefore my contribution to fashion—is to be your best friend when you open your closet. Women will be drawn to things that are timeless, things that have purpose. Something you will never throw away because it’s a good friend. That, more than ever, is going to be the driving force.”

Anita Dongre

Photo: Supplied

“We were a large joint family of around 30-40 cousins, most of whom would get married by the age of 18-19. Because of our social conditioning, my parents were surprised that I wanted to go to college and take up a job. Neighbors used to mock my father that he couldn’t earn enough which is why his daughter was going for a job. I have been through all of this societal stigma, and I know what goes into making people understanding why I deserved to work. Eventually, my father gave me my first loan for starting my own business, and I am proud to say that I was able to return it in six months. Year after year, I have always wished for the same thing: that every woman in India gets to lead life on her own terms. This change is going to happen and very soon. I believe that you can either observe it happening from the sidelines or become a part of it. Today, when I visit women from the villages that we support, I can see the pride that comes in them from financial independence. So many women tell me that they now don’t need to ask anyone for money and that their men treat them with respect as well. Women empowerment is the only way to usher in this change.”

Maria Grazia Chiuri

Photo: Bikramjit Bose

On her mother’s influence on her idea of feminism: “She was very independent. My grandmother was, too; my grandfather died in the war and she had to bring up four kids on her own. She decided not to re-marry because she wanted to maintain her independence. If you grow up in a family like that, it’s impossible to not believe in women having the same opportunities as men. I remember my mother liked to be independent from my father and he was very open-minded. Today, I think we have forgotten to respect each other. I am worried about teaching my son to respect women, to have a dialogue, to believe in humanity.”

On the T-shirt from her first collection at Dior, being an exclamation mark: “When I arrived, everybody spoke to me about femininity and I thought, but what does it mean to be feminine today? What does it mean to be a woman today? We started to think of a T-shirt because it is a way to speak to everybody. And also because this was a message, not just clothes. Later, I was at the Brooklyn Museum in New York and saw a girl of about 11 or 12 wearing a fake version of that T-shirt. I was so thrilled. She had no idea that it was made for Dior, or who I was—she bought it for the message.

I was 52, I left my family in Rome. That’s why I thought we had to speak about how women want to be today. I wrote to Chimamanda [Ngozi Adichie] because I was obsessed with her book and her talk. I read We Should All Be Feminists with my daughter. I did that because I think the world is full of stereotypes. We are told that the geniuses are all men because in school you study only Caravaggio, Raphael…We don’t study women artists. They aren’t in the book. I want the collections to have something for every woman to find and mix in a personal way.”

Gabriela Hearst

Photo: Courtesy of Gabriela Hearst

“You have to push; you have to get out of your comfort zone; not listen to ‘No’; you have to implement your knowledge. The bigger your platform, the more responsibility and duty you have and this is what I’m dedicating my life to.”

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