Although we are finally seeing some real diversity on the runway with the celebration of models such as Ashley Graham and Winnie Harlow, age seems to still be taboo in an industry obsessed with new blood. Most of the time, the use of mature women in fashion editorials feels gimmicky and forced, and an attempt to gain the interest of readers by shocking them. Unsurprisingly, when I announced that two of our four special October cover stars were not in their twenties, or even their thirties, eyebrows were raised. “Older women on the cover? Is it Vogue?”
Yes, it is Vogue. Especially taking into consideration that Kenza Fourati, Hanaa ben Abdesslem, Farida Khelfa, and Afef Jnifen are not just any women. They are icons, game changers, and – above all – incredible ambassadors of Arabia in the capitals of fashion.
In times when – let’s be honest – a big part of society considered out of ignorance that we live in an oppressed region, our cover stars proved with their talent and work ethic that Arab women are as powerful, independent, and accomplished as any other. Who can forget that proud moment when Hanaa ben Abdesslem became the first Muslim model to be featured in a major international beauty campaign? Fashion should also thank our cover stars for actively changing the perception of the industry. “When I started modeling, people in Tunisia linked this profession with prostitution,” Kenza Fourati revealed on the set of our shoot, where star photographer Tom Munro built a massive sand dune in the center of Paris. It is not a surprise that our leading ladies naturally enchanted some of the most relevant designers in the industry, becoming their close friends and muses. The bonds created are so honest and strong that these big players, even during the countdown to fashion week, put on hold their hectic work schedules when we asked them to share their impressions on the four models gracing our covers. Having Jean Paul Gaultier, Giorgio Armani, Reem Acra, and Giambattista Valli paying tribute to them was truly a privilege. Their words are powerful, extremely touching… and very Vogue.
Models: Farida Khelfa, Afef Jnifen, Hanaa Ben Abdesslem, and Kenza Fourati
Director and Photographer: Tom Munro
Fashion Director: Katie Trotter
Make Up: Lloyd Simmonds
Hair: Seb Bascle
Set Designer: Samirha Salmi
Location: Rouchon Studio, Paris.