With 450+ pages and five iconic covers featuring Esaad Younes, Haya Abdulsalam, and Middle Eastern models on the rise, Vogue Arabia’s September 2023 issue celebrates high fashion and fairy tale.
Vogue Arabia’s coveted September issue pays homage to fashion and fairy tale, in an ode to the more fun and optimistic side of the FW23/24 season. With five covers photographed in three different cities – Paris, Cairo, and Dubai – this is one of Vogue Arabia’s most daring productions. Inspired by nostalgic fairy tales, the covers feature a wealth of talented women from the region, styled as never seen before. In Disneyland Paris, three new faces from the runway, Myriem Boukadida, Aouatif Saadi, and Farnoush Hamidian, are dressed in spectacular couture, illustrating the rising influence of Middle Eastern models, while also signaling the impact of Arabia in the global fashion scene. Although for the last 60 years models across the Middle East have been muses to maestros such as Azzedine Alaïa and Jean Paul Gaultier, the region’s modeling industry is just beginning to blossom. “At Vogue Arabia, we are proud of being enablers of the careers of future Middle Eastern supermodels, while also creating a healthy ecosystem for stylists, photographers, designers, and other industry professionals,” says editor-in-chief Manuel Arnaut. “Witnessing the success of this September cover stars, but also of other names such as the Hadid sisters, Nora Attal, Imaan Hammam, Malika El Maslouhi (all also previously featured in our covers), is extremely fulfilling.”
Vogue Arabia’s voyage continues to the Land of the Pharaohs, where we also photographed for our cover Arabia’s queen of comedy, Esaad Younes. Looking regal while wearing a bejeweled headpiece, the beloved icon talks “accidental” careers, patriotism, and positive self-image at any age. “Why do I always say that I’m the most beautiful ‘girl’ in Egypt? To help women break free of the tiny box that they’re placed in as soon as they turn 40,” she confides.
From Kuwait, actress and filmmaker Haya Abdulsalam is the final personality gracing our September set of 5 covers. Star of Netflix’s record-breaking thriller The Devil’s Advocate, Abdulsalam opens up on “this most important moment” of her career, stating with pride, “I am the righteous daughter of Kuwait who respects customs and traditions, and therefore I enjoy the love and respect of its people. I represent the ambitious Gulf girl and the strong woman of the Arab world who does not know the impossible.”
Also in this issue is an exclusive interview with the new Ambassador of the State of Kuwait to the USA, HE Sheikha Al-Zain Al-Sabah. The first woman to officially hold this position, HE Sheikha Al-Sabah shares, “Kuwaiti women have long been a pivotal factor in changing the rules of the game and initiatives. They took the first step in social, political, intellectual, and cultural domains in the country and all over the region. They are a source of inspiration to all of us.” For this feature, the diplomat was photographed in the Kuwaiti embassy in Washington DC, wearing a Sirdab 6 black and gold thoub dress by Kuwaiti designer Sheikha Souad Al-Sabah.
The September issue is also an ode to craftsmanship and traditional fashion from the GCC. Vogue Arabia lends its pages to the reflections of three regional royals, Bahraini Sheikha HRH Dana Al Khalifa, HH Al Sayyida Meyyan Shihab Al Said of Oman, and Saudi Princess HRH Nourah Alfaisal, who share the memories and mastery behind the garments of their respective countries. “The beautiful regional embroidery is so intricate and on a par with any international haute couture. It makes me proud to represent and celebrate Saudi Arabia in this way,” says Princess Alfaisal.
The edition filled with pioneering personalities continues with an exclusive conversation with Qatari royal and art enthusiast Sheikh Mohammed Rashid Al-Thani, who opened his art-filled space in New York to Vogue Arabia. The Institute of Arab and Islamic Art stands as an autonomous non-profit center, and was launched by Sheikh Al-Thani when he moved to New York in 2014 and “realized there was no representation for contemporary artists from the Arab and Islamic region. Other institutions showcase artists from the region every now and then, but the conversations are not consistent. So I realized that it was very important to have a permanent space here in New York and to make sure that artists, scholars, and writers from the region are part of this larger cultural landscape here in New York, and their voices heard,” he says.
With a stratospheric rise since his 2022 appointment as creative director of Ferragamo, in our September issue Maximilian Davis takes a seat for a conversation with editor-in-chief Manuel Arnaut. Davis shares how he bravely made changes in the brand from day one – from reimaging Ferragamo’s logo to creating a new signature color – while still respecting the DNA of the 96-year-old brand. At just 26, the British designer also became an unintentional symbol of diversity and inclusion, being one of the very few designers of color to take the helm of a European heritage brand. “I think you really need to put yourself out there or encourage yourself in these positions that you don’t feel comfortable in; I don’t think it has to do with race, you just need to go into a situation where you don’t feel comfortable and try to make it your own.”
This month, Vogue also visits Los Angeles, and reveals why the city recently became a true epicenter of fashion, hosting major style events – from the Versace Winter 2024 show to Chanel’s Cruise 2024. While in town, we also met with some of the leading Arab talents making it big in LA: Syrian artist Jwan Yosef; former Miss USA, co-founder of Universal Arabic Music and philanthropist Rima Fakih Slaiby; Saudi Mohammed Bajabaa, founder of Proud Los Angeles; Palestinian singer Elyanna; model Elisa Sednaoui Dellal, who also founded the charity organization Funtasia Enterprise; and Egyptian actress and fashion model Salma Abu Deif.
Closer to home, in Lebanon, we turned the spotlight to the best in Arab fashion with an exhilarating portfolio in the ancient village of Enfeh. Plus, the son of founder Elie Saab and group CEO Elie Saab Jr, and his wife Christina open the doors to their bustling household founded on love and legacy. The eldest of Monsieur Saab’s three sons, Saab Jr is the only one who works for the company. “From a young age, Elie has been by my side at the office, observing and learning from me,” notes Arabia’s leading couturier. “I have never pushed for it, but today it is my biggest joy having him on my side.”
Bursting with incredible content across 450 pages, the issue includes a deep dive into the heart of cultural expression with the Circassian community shot in Jordan’s grand citadel; an interview with Emirati music rising star Shamma Hamdan; an exclusive interview with the mother-daughter force behind Marmonil, the region’s largest stone producer, and last but not least, a peek inside Villa Mabrouka, Yves Saint Laurent’s last home in Tangier, recently reborn as an exquisite boutique hotel.