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Editor’s Letter: Why Our May Issue is Dedicated to the Highest Artistries and Haute Couture

Manuel Arnaut

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

Ever since I was a little boy, I remember being surrounded by people who could make things. Beautiful things. One of my fondest memories is of my maternal grandmother – a woman so important in my development – and the long evenings spent by her side when she would knit the most beautiful crochet patterns for hours and hours. These delicate webs would then be applied to bedsheets or tablecloths, only to be enjoyed on special days. Since then, I’ve always been impressed by people who can make things with their bare hands – whether a sculpture, a piece of furniture, or a beautiful dress.

To my delight, the Arab world is a place where I also found the same love for all things handmade, following strict centuries-old techniques that are still being respected. In this issue dedicated to the highest artistries, we have the honor to include an interview with HH Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah. The royal leads different cultural organizations, including the Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council, which focuses on preserving traditional Emirati heritage. “We all must understand that a pursuit of modernity doesn’t mean letting go of the past. The past is what shows us the way to our future,” shares Her Highness with Vogue.

Malika El Maslouhi wearing Guo Pei couture. Photographed by Thibault-Théodore for Vogue Arabia May 2021

Speaking of fashion in a more global way, it is also not a secret that Arab clients have been key couture and high jewelry customers for decades. More than just buying quantity, the region is known for its impeccable sartorial taste, loving everything that is exclusive, produced in limited quantities, and made using the most lavish raw materials. This motivated us to build the issue around a 14-page portfolio story where Moroccan model on the rise Malika El Maslouhi wears couture looks by classic maisons such as Giambattista Valli and Dior, but also more experimental houses like Iris van Herpen and Viktor & Rolf. In a story penned by the elegant Amy Fine Collins, the woman behind Vanity Fair’s International Best-Dressed List, we discuss if couture will survive in a world dominated by Zoom calls and restrictions. I invite you to read the conclusion on p84.

We could not do an issue dedicated to the topic of couture and artistry without highlighting the work of iconic couturier Elie Saab. Even following last year’s Beirut blast, nothing appears to slow down the Saab family, now busier than ever with the main fashion collections, but also new makeup and fragrances, watches and home lines. I’m glad to witness the growth of Elie Saab’s global empire and influence, even in a moment when the world is struggling.

Like couture, some skeptics say that print magazines are something of the past. Naturally, I don’t agree with this, and I’m pleased and excited to invite you to try our new augmented reality features that are being announced and promoted on and on our social media. Last month, our cover came to life as never before, and singer Balqees Fathi showed up in your living room. It looks like magic, but it’s just Vogue leading the future of fashion.

Read Next: Vogue Arabia’s May Issue Celebrates Artistry, Craftsmanship, and Savoir Faire

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