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Editor’s Letter: Inside Our Nostalgia-Inducing Yet Forward Looking October 2023 Issue

Manuel Arnaut

Vogue Arabia editor-in-chief Manuel Arnaut. Photo: Ziga Mihelcic

As you might recall, last month I wrote in my editor’s letter, in the context of the Hollywood actors’ strike, that I’m committed to further elevating “our regional fashion and entertainment industries, in order to rely less on global names, and achieve the same impact with our talents at home.” And if you want to talk about impact, not many women in the Arab world have had the same disruptive power as our October cover star. Celebrating 50 years of her career this month, Lady Madonna is the ultimate chameleonic fashion entertainer par excellence, and a style icon in her own right. But don’t let yourself get blinded by all the glitter, colors, and feathers. Underneath the surface of Lady Madonna’s camp glamour lies true culture and fashion history. Not only has she collaborated with and opened the doors for many then-young Lebanese couturiers such as Elie Saab and Fouad Sarkis, her style also says so much about the postwar social history of her country.

In the issue, the celebration of Lady Madonna occurs in two chapters. Wearing Lebanese contemporary labels such as Nicolas Jebran and Jean-Louis Sabaji, the star is photographed in Beirut to pay homage to her maximalist ways, as she emerges from a gilded sun, or sits on a crescent moon. For the second photoshoot, also produced in Beirut, we dove deep into the Lady Madonna archives and together literally raided a warehouse of boxes to return some of her most iconic looks to the spotlight. What a joy for the eyes to see pieces such as the Dalmatian dress by Fouad Sarkis, or the fuchsia feather dress with feather cape by Roni Eid, in the pages of Vogue Arabia!

Although there’s a sense of nostalgia in this month’s cover story, the issue is actually very forward looking. This might sound like a cliché, but I truly believe that in order to move ahead, we must know where we came from. One of my favorite pieces is a tightly curated story where we profile some of the most promising young Arab fashion designers. I’m always blown away by the incredible level of talent blooming in the region, so selecting this list was fun, exciting, and inspiring. Another story I fell in love with – love being a word not chosen by accident – is a portfolio where we invited couples from different backgrounds to tell us how their cultural differences helped them to build a stronger union and families. Some of the couples include equestrians Sheikh Rashid bin Ahmed Al Maktoum and wife Natalie Lankester, model Chanel Ayan and husband Chris Pillott, and Iraqi-American business owner Mona Kattan and Hassan Elamin. As a true romantic, this story just puts me in a good mood, and reminds me that with passion and love – in fashion or in life in general – anything is possible.

Read Next: Lady Madonna Stars on the Cover of Vogue Arabia October 2023 

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