Fiercely protective of her privacy, Rekha has not taken on any roles since 2014, and hasn’t done an interview for close to two decades—until now. This month, the icon, who was once also called the most iconic woman from India by Dior creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri, opens her heart to the world in an extremely rare, and heartwarmingly candid interview. For her very first Vogue cover, Rekha stands proud in a melange of regal ensembles, all styled by Manish Malhotra, go-to couturier to the country’s biggest stars. “Manish moved heaven and earth to craft my vision into clothes,” Rekha shares about her cover shoot ensembles this month. “To have him leave everything and work tirelessly with me like a wise, patient pujari [priest], I couldn’t have asked for a better executioner of my dreams.” In what can definitely be called her most intimate interview to date, the icon opens up not just about the life she lives today, but also her journey to super stardom. “I was born with an instinct for the perseverance of beauty. Sure, I was born to actors… but it is my insatiable quest for learning, my willingness to keep my eyes and heart open, absorbing beauty with positivity not negativity, that gives me command over my craft,” she reveals. “I feel like a newcomer every day. And I trust those who demonstrate commitment like I do.” At 69, Rekha serves as a role model for generations to come, and counts even the biggest names in the industry among her fans. In the words of former Vogue Arabia cover star Deepika Padukone, “Rekha’s aura is magnetic. She can effortlessly captivate an entire audience with just a glance, and her performances are a masterclass in acting.”
Spotlighting hidden gems from across the globe, our July/August 2023 issue also invites readers on a journey of discovery via its pages. First, we take you to the gardens of Versailles, which have recently been renovated with the sponsorship of French-Armenian perfumer Francis Kurkdjian. An olfactory haven, the gardens house hundreds of perfume-making plants, and are now finally open to the public. “I have a very long relationship with the Versailles Palace, which started in the Nineties, when I was a student at the perfumery school,” says Kurkdjian. “I would spend time here, at the Palace, just looking around at the beauty of the gardens. I came back on many occasions, I met Catherine (Catherine Pégard, President of Versailles Palace), and she said she had a space at the Trianon that was open to projects. We came together and envisioned an idea of a perfumer’s garden.”
Next, we dive into the fantastical realm of mermaids, the magical beings that have claimed 2023 as their time to shine. From Marielle Hénault, founder and creative director of AquaMermaid, the world’s largest swimming school, to Swiss-Lebanese designer Sandra Mansour, individuals around the world break down what it is that makes the mythical sea creatures so alluring, all accompanied with visuals by Lebanese photographer Lara Zankoul. In Beyoncé’s words, “I’m always happy when I’m surrounded by water. I think I’m a mermaid or I was a mermaid. The ocean makes me feel really small and it puts my whole life in perspective.”
Closer to home, the July/August 2023 issue spotlights the best of the inaugural Egypt Fashion Week, which took place in Cairo and celebrated the creatives that make up the current regional fashion landscape, a growing textile industry, and the forces driving their future in Egypt, Africa, and the wider Middle East. From the 70+ designers who showcased their creations in Cairo’s Museum of Agriculture, Vogue Arabia focuses its lens on nine regional talents who are heralding a new era of creativity and finesse in the country, including Ahmed Al-Saedi, Farah Wali, and Rasha El Gammal.
No issue of Vogue Arabia is truly complete without a strong fashion moment, and this month is no different. As we step into the holiday segment of the year, we bring to you the best of the world’s pre-fall collections, along with clever insights on how to prolong the life of pieces from past seasons. The key? To continually live a more sustainable, yet sartorially inspiring life.