Hosted by Place Vendôme, the 22nd international edition of the magazine celebrated with Deena Aljuhani Abdulaziz, Naomi Campbell and Lauryn Hill
UPDATE: since the publication of this article, news broke of Deena Aljuhani Abdulaziz exiting her role at Vogue Arabia. This article as been modified in respect to the current events.
The Middle East has a long, richly significant relationship with the fashion world. A legacy beginning long before the modernization of the region can be traced as far back as the Silk Road. From the bustling souqs of Marrakesh that inspired Yves Saint Laurent to the style influence of the impeccable Fawzia Fuad, its contributions are unparalleled. Now with the launch of Vogue Arabia and the new developments of Place Vendôme Qatar, the Arab world seems to be experiencing a fashion Renaissance.
The catalyst for the proverbial rebirth? The launch of Vogue Arabia on April 7. Offset by view of Doha’s industrialized skyline, Deena Aljuhani Abdulaziz celebrated the magazines official launch at the Museum of Islamic Art. At the time, Abdulaziz was the appointed Editor-in-Chief of the publications first Middle Eastern edition. Officially the magazine is on its second issue though the launch took place recently with the celebrity filled black tie affair. In honor of the 22nd international edition of the Condé Nast publication, legendary singer Lauryn Hill serenaded a stylish crowd that included Naomi Campbell, Suzy Menkes, Peter Dundas, Paul Andrew, Zuhair Murad and Farida Khelfa to name a few.
“This is a dream that I’m very happy to say has materialized,” Abdulaziz expressed of the momentous occasion. However like with many things worth fighting for, the journey to fruition for Vogue Arabia was faced with its own set of obstacles. Even the premier cover caused controversy by featuring a veiled Gigi Hadid. For chairman and chief executive of Condé Nast Jonathan Newhouse, the dream was a long time coming as well. “I didn’t know it would come true but it has come true, to do Vogue Arabia in this magical part of the world,” Newhouse expressed at the launch. As the fashion world is increasing its options for the Arab woman, it’s long overdue that she has proper representation in the mainstream media.
Within the past few years designers have warmed up to the Middle Eastern market by catering specifically to the Arab woman. Italian duo Dolce & Gabbana created a line of hijabs and abayas and Nike has recently announced the Pro Hijab. Japanese brand Uniqlo has the Hana Tajima line and modest fashion has been on the rise in areas as far off as Russia proving the efforts to be lucrative. A Thomson Reuters report estimated that Muslims spent $266 billion on footwear and clothing in 2013. That number is set to grow as spending will rise to $484 billion by 2019 and designer Peter Dundas sees these ventures as a positive, “I think it broadens the horizons for Vogue and for fashion as well.”
As fashions horizons broaden, so does Doha’s skyline. Showcasing what the region can do, Place Vendôme hopes to make Doha a shopping destination and partnering with Vogue Arabia for the black tie affair seemed to be just the beginning. The developer’s own foray into the fashion world albeit on a different scale aims to enhance the market by working to open a grandiose Place Vendôme Mall in the center of Lusail City in 2018. With Parisian inspired architecture from the intricate glass ceilings to the lavish open terraces, the Salfo and Associates designed development will have a cinema, play area for the kids, luxury shops and a canal. In addition to the mall, two five-star hotels are being built without any “bad views” as all the rooms will face towards the ocean. Project Director Sean Kelly spoke about it as having “the motifs of Paris done in a very modern way.” Though a project of this magnitude comes with a price-tag. Costing $1.25 billion it’s part of the plan to expand the cities infrastructure in preparation for the 2022 World Cup, another first for the area.
With Place Vendôme creating a mall that will encapsulate a myriad of luxurious experiences, the region is set to be an even bigger contender in the fashion world. Inspired by old European architecture but done with state of the art technological advancements, the United Developers project is set to become to the Middle East what Galeries Lafayette is to Paris. Perhaps the regions equivalent of Milan's Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.
As for Vogue Arabia, their mission is similar; staying true to their cultural roots while moving forward in the public eye. Designer, Paul Andrew has high hopes for the publications prospects, “from what I’ve seen of the magazine it’s this incredible combination of tradition and innovation.” It’s now up to Vogue Arabia to maintain their momentum following in the footsteps of the fashion bibles other successful editions. However their legacy will be different as the publication is tasked with a region that encompasses a variety of countries unlike majority of their other editions. Like what the Silk Road accomplished before, Abdulaziz saw her mission clearly for the iconic magazine, “I feel that the job that Vogue Arabia has is to bridge East and West. To show what we share versus what sets us apart.” Now as the magazine prepares to move forward with a new Editor-in-Chief, the fashion world awaits to see what new groundbreaking contributions the land has in store.