Vogue Arabia launches in Islamic Art Museum
"Are you ready Qatar? Are you ready Qatar?" sang Lauryn Hill, before launching into a rousing version of "Killing Me Softly."
The setting? The launch of Vogue Arabia in the I.M. Pei-designed Museum of Islamic Art overlooking the waters of the Persian Gulf with Naomi Campbell, Izabel Goulart and local princesses dancing before the neo soul singer. A half dozen designers also showed up including Peter Dundas, Olivier Theyskens, Marco de Vincenzo, Delfina Delettrez Fendi and Zuhair Murad.
"I am very, very happy that this day has materialised. I feel that one of the roles that Qatar and our magazine has is to link East and West. To show what we share and not what sets us apart," said Editor-in-Chief Princess Deena Aljuhani Abdulaziz.
Her debut March cover featured Californian Gigi Hadid, her face covered intriguingly in a crystal veil, shot by Inez & Vinoodh. April starred budding Egyptian-Moroccan superstar Imaan Hammam attired in Bottega Veneta, and shot by Patrick Demarchelier. It's tag line: "I've got the Power!"
What also impressed were stories on local creators like thoroughly chic Shouq Al Marzouq, founder of bag label Marzook; or sisterly duo Aya and Mounaz Abelraouf of Egyptian handbag house Okhtein; or the personal style of the late Zaha Hadid - smartly interwoven with stories on Western designers.
The magazine is primarily in English, though three issues will be bi-lingual with the back cover in Arabic.
"The nice thing about Vogue Arabia, is that when you mention its name to advertisers, they don't ask you about cost per thousand for ads they just say, 'we're on board'," said Jonathan Newhouse, president of Condé Nast International.
"This is a dream we had that I often wondered would ever come true. But now it has, with a beautiful magazine in this wonderful and magical part of the world," said Newhouse.
The publishers revealed to FashionNetwork that they printed only 30,000 copies of the magazine. It boasts double-page ads by the likes of Louis Vuitton, Prada, Chanel, Burberry, Juicy Couture, and Net-a-Porter. Though Condé Nast did confess the yield per page was only $6,500. This compares to a single page in French Vogue at €23,500.
The title also hired veteran New York fashion editor Paul Cavaco, famed for his work with Steven Meisel shooting Madonna's legendary Sex book. His stylish hand evident throughout the magazine.
Two hundred guests sat down in the upper courtyard of the museum, as a light and laser show morphed the building into various Islamic architectural periods, or featured its two cover gals, with giant silk scarves floating across the 40-metre-high structure. Gulf beauties, uber models, social media influencers and Lebanese bloggers wafted around, many wearing Elie Saab – who had addressed the Condé International luxury conference in Oman, from which many guests had flown.
"Don't these ladies just look amazingly beautiful. And, they all paid for the fashion, not like in Hollywood," laughed Cavaco.
There are obviously many sides to the Middle East. However, on a weekend which saw President Trump bomb a Syrian airfield, in the latest convulsions in the Middle East it was instructive to be in Qatar. Where an American publishing house, owned by a prominent Jewish family, opened a glossy fashion magazine devoted to the empowerment of women, and introduced by members of Qatar's royal family.
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