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Hijabi Model Ugbad Abdi and Sister Hani Star on Our Ramadan Issue Celebrating Family and Modest Fashion

Ugbad Abdi. Vogue Arabia, April 2022. Photo: Luigi and Iango

Star photographers Luigi and Iango bring into focus a richly colored cover story starring Ugbad Abdi and her younger sister Hani. Abdi is the world’s leading hijabi supermodel, born in Somalia and raised in a Kenyan refugee camp after fleeing her country’s civil war, and in Des Moines, Iowa. She has walked and opened shows for Marc Jacobs and Michael Kors along with Fendi, Chanel, Burberry, Dries Van Noten, and Valentino Haute Couture, always in her hijab.

This month, returning to our cover in her first appearance after the October 2019 issue, Abdi highlights the importance of family during Ramadan. Speaking to Janelle Okwodu, Abdi, who was scouted on Instagram a few years ago, shares, “My mother saw how happy fashion made me and that having a career where I get to experience different cultures and continuously learn was so important to me.” The hijabi supermodel didn’t initially think fashion was for her, recalling, “Modeling was jarring because I didn’t grow up looking like people in the spotlight.”

Her Highness Sana Al Maktoum. Vogue Arabia, April 2022. Photo: Ziga Mihelcic

Coming from one of the leading families in the GCC, passionate designer and philanthropist Her Highness Sana Al Maktoum reveals her new collection of high jewelry in this issue, along with highlighting the numerous causes she supports, like the opening of Fakeeh University Hospital’s new breast clinic. The young royal speaks about her family, sharing, “The butterfly motif in my jewelry is a tribute to my grandmother, as she is my greatest inspiration and my muse. My grandmother was one of the first educated Emirati businesswomen and I’m often told by family members that I have her spirit guiding me always. She was the leading light for the empowerment of Emirati women here and I hope to carry the torch.”

Meanwhile, the undeniable shift of modest fashion penetrating the west is explored by journalist Hafsa Lodi, who decodes the motivations driving women across the globe to design, deconstruct, and dress in modest fashion today. “Hijabi models are no longer novelties, and most fashion is no longer limited to annual Ramadan capsules – or to Muslim consumers for that matter,” she writes.

On the topic of fashion, we explore another shift taken as of late by fashion houses, notably a price surge in luxury goods. “The bag regains the function of rarity, at a time of image saturation and dematerialized experiences, offering a return to the material, the tangible, reminding us of a time when luxury wasn’t industrialized and mass-produced,” comments Manon Renault, fashion critic and lecturer in cultural studies at Paris’s Sorbonne university.

Leïla Slimani. Illustration: Ahmed Amer

Continuing the theme of family, Vogue Arabia speaks with Morocco-born Prix Goncourt winner Leïla Slimani about her latest novel, Regardez-nous danser, the second in a planned trilogy. The writer – who also serves as emissary for French President Emmanuel Macron – considers her trilogy a tribute to the Moroccan women in her family… the birds who managed to fly in a sea of ants. “They worked and they took care of the education of the children. They laughed, and they continued to organize parties and to live. So I think that it’s a real homage to the fact that even in a very patriarchal society, even in a society where it’s so difficult to be free, maybe – and it’s a paradox – women were freer than men in my family,” she says.

Stéphane Rolland and Nieves Álvarez. Vogue Arabia, April 2022. Photo: Bastien Lattanzio

Celebrating 15 years of his haute couture house, Stéphane Rolland returns to the runway with his eternal muse, Spanish supermodel Nieves Álvarez, by his side. Both are photographed and interviewed in this month’s designer feature. Rolland, the favored international couturier of the Arab world, comments, “My Middle Eastern clients understand perfectly how to interpret couture.” Notably, in 2021, Rolland designed the wedding dress of HRH Princess Hussa bint Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the only daughter of the ruler of Saudi Arabia. Her dream was to wear a gown that paid tribute to her country and its culture. “Together, we decided to create a contemporary gown by reinterpreting the bisht,” recalls Rolland of the standout career moment.

All this and more in the April 2022 issue of Vogue Arabia, on stands April 1.

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