Last week, we shared a 10-second-clip on Instagram, in which Rihanna faced off with the infamous bust of Egyptian Queen Nefertiti. “Thousands of years apart, two iconic women will finally meet in the pages of Vogue Arabia,” read the caption. The clip quickly went viral. Today, the Vogue Arabia Arabic and English covers for the hotly-anticipated November issue have been revealed, and are already spreading rapidly.
Lensed by renowned photographer Greg Kadel (who also photographed Halima Aden for Vogue Arabia’s June issue), the superstar singer appears on the cover wearing Gucci paired with a custom Faeth Millinery-designed headpiece in a stylish homage to Queen Nefertiti. “We are dedicating the issue to strong and dynamic women who are changing the world,” begins Vogue Arabia Editor-in-Chief Manuel Arnaut in the editor’s letter. “Rihanna, our cover star, is one of them. Not only is she one of the most successful pop icons ever, shaping the entertainment industry with her powerful tunes and unique sense of style, she is also an advocate for diversity.”
Indeed, for fashion’s biggest rule-breaker, inclusivity is crucial to her brand. The popstar unveiled a line of cosmetics, Fenty Beauty, last month that featured a range of fine-tuned foundations, highlighters, blushers, and a lip gloss that worked for each and every skin tone. “I don’t want women to say, ‘That’s cute, but it only looks good on her,’” Rihanna noted during the time of the launch. Her campaign featured hijab-wearing model Halima Aden as well as Duckie Thot.
Echoing the words of Arnaut, how exactly does one portray in a fresh way one of the most photographed women in the world? “Celebrity stylist Anya Ziourova had the answer, and during one of our many Skype meetings, she revealed that the pop star has a real adoration for Queen Nefertiti, and has her iconic bust tattooed on her ribcage,” he says.
The singer’s reverence for the legendary Queen is unsurprising. Ruling in Ancient Egypt next to her husband Pharaoh Akhenaten almost 3,500 years ago, Nefertiti still reigns as one of the most beloved figures from the Middle East. Known for her unmatched beauty — Nefertiti means “the beautiful one has come” — the Ancient Egyptian queen, who had a very active role in the country’s political sphere, is the picture of women’s empowerment.
Rihanna follows the other ground-breaking women to appear on the cover of Vogue Arabia, including Gigi Hadid, Halima Aden, Bella Hadid, and October’s special issue featuring four iconic Arab models: Afef Jnifen, Farida Khelfa, Kenza Fourati, and Hanaa Ben Abdesslem.