Lady Madonna, undisputed icon of the Arab world stars on the cover of Vogue Arabia’s October 2023 edition. The Lebanese singer and entertainer embodied the synergy of music, art, and fashion during the eighties, creating and thriving in a fantasy world of camp and avant-garde expression. The artist played a pivotal role in reintroducing post-war Lebanon to the world as a hub of creativity and artistic expression.
“Celebrating 50 years of career this month, Lady Madonna is the ultimate fashion chameleonic entertainer par excellence, and a style icon in her own right,” states Vogue Arabia editor-in-chief Manuel Arnaut. “Underneath the surface of Lady Madonna’s camp glamour relies true culture and fashion history. Not only did she collaborate and open the doors to many young Lebanese couturiers such as Elie Saab and Fouad Sarkis, her style also said so much about the post war social history of her country.”
Along with a cover shoot that sees Lady Madonna dressed in all-eyes-on-me looks by designers of the region, this month, we also dove into the archives of her most impactful looks, bringing them back into the limelight with a very special fashion spread featuring pieces such as the Dalmatian dress by Fouad Sarkis, and the fuchsia feather dress with feather cape by Roni Eid.
Ahead of presenting the Versace Icons collection in Dubai this month, Donatella Versace speaks exclusively with Vogue Arabia. She talks about her own personal icons—her brother Gianni and the late musician Prince. She also shares her admiration for the people of the Arab world, stating, “I love the great style of the women and men [of the Middle East] and I really appreciate seeing how Versace is worn and the great support the region has always shown us.”
The power of love is celebrated with a feature highlighting unions of multicultural couples. Olympians 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 share the challenges they overcame and with time, saw their love celebrated by their respective families.
Not everyone experiences such support and understanding. In July 2023, the Taliban’s Ministry of Vice and Virtue decreed the closure of all female beauty salons across the country. With thirty days to comply, Kabul’s vibrant salon scene came to an abrupt halt. The forced closures of Afghanistan’s beauty salons has cost women much more than their blowouts and manicures. On the ground in Kabul, Vogue Arabia learns that despite the challenges, and loss of their safe spaces, women in Kabul remain resilient.
On the topic of resilience, beloved Australian couturiere Tamara Ralph recounts the challenges overcome as she moves on past Ralph & Russo, having recently launched her namesake couture house in Paris. “This collection is about female strength and femininity, and it was about taking some of my experiences over the last couple of years and showing a confident, braver side of my creativity. I took feminine elements, which have always been a big part of my design aesthetic, and made them harder, tougher, and stronger,” says Ralph, who recently dressed Queen Rania of Jordan for the coronation of King Charles.
Art patron and founder of the Barjeel art foundation, Sultan Al Qassimi opens the doors to his art-filled Sharjah home and talks about the force of the majlis. “This nurturing environment inspires and empowers the rising generation to explore their artistic potential and contributes to a broader global understanding of Arab art,” he says.
From art to cinema, Vogue Arabia shifts its lens to Stephanie Atala, who earned herself the Best Asian Actress award this week at the Septimius Awards in Amsterdam. The Lebanese-French creative, who juggles the roles of actor and singer, opens up about her journey under the spotlight, and her goals. Having starred in major projects like Iman (2022) and Crystal (2023), Atala’s boundless ambition has also inspired her to consider writing scripts in the future. The sky is the limit for this budding star.
All this and more in the October 2023 issue of Vogue Arabia.