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Editor’s Letter: On Celebrating Lavender as the Kingdom’s New Color Identity with Saudi Designers and Top Models


Manuel Arnaut photographed by Ziga Mihelcic

A few years ago, during Paris Fashion Week, I visited the showroom of Honayda Serafi to have a look at the Saudi designer’s collection. To my surprise, I found a full wardrobe in different shades of lavender, paying homage to the purple fields that blossom in the Kingdom, in Asir. Although I have traveled extensively in Saudi, I was unaware that lavender can grow in the desert, with images of camels roaming through a sea of lavender flooding my imagination.

Personally, I have a very special relationship with this flower, as it used to blossom in the backyard of my grandmother’s home in Portugal. When I was a child, I also remember being sprinkled with lavender cologne after a shower. Although bath time was definitely not my favorite moment of the day, I can still smell the calming fragrance when I close my eyes.

More recently, Saudi Arabia made a bold creative statement, turning all the red carpets of official events to lavender, “identical to the color of the Kingdom’s deserts and plateaus in the spring,” said the Saudi Press Agency. When I saw an image of the Crown Prince HRH Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud walking down a carpet in this color, something clicked in my head, resulting in the 10 covers we are featuring this month – by far one of our most daring projects to date. Celebrating Saudi Arabia’s natural beauty, and the values of renewal and hospitality connected to the use of lavender, we asked 10 Saudi brands to create a dress each, worn by 10 supermodels from Saudi and beyond. The decision to add international models to our casting portfolio was deliberate. At Vogue Arabia we truly believe in the globalization of Saudi fashion, and the opportunity to dress iconic models such as Isabeli Fontana, Candice Swanepoel, Sara Sampaio, Coco Rocha, and Sasha Luss offers the perfect stage for the blossoming of Saudi talent.

Inside this issue, you will find a very interesting mix of people – ones shaping the Kingdom’s future. The new CEO of the cultural organization Art of Heritage, HRH Princess Nourah Alfaisal, shares with us her plans to dynamize and push this organization to the future. Between Jeddah and Riyadh, we photograph an exciting group of young creatives, excelling in areas such as music, cinema, and the arts.

While the world is now discovering Saudi, I’m proud that Vogue Arabia was the first international title to seriously focus on the Kingdom. In 2018, when we published our first Saudi issue, before women started to drive, before lavish events and tourism visas, we were already committed to the Kingdom and its creative community who were so ready to tell their stories to the world. Being a vehicle for these narratives is a true honor for me and our team, and a role I take very seriously. I hope you enjoy this issue, while experiencing Saudi Arabia through the lens of Vogue.

Originally published in the June 2023 issue of Vogue Arabia

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