Picture Credit : Inez & Vinoodh For Vogue Arabia
Today we have a guest post from my friend Sonia who is a bit of a creative dabbler. I’ve known her since University days, and she always has the best style ideas, with an amazing eye for detail and fun in fashion. Sonia is the kind of woman who will be sure to notice one real and special thing about you, and compliment you on it! She recently bought our attention to a mixed (modern and vintage) compilation of iconic Vogue covers. Read on for her original take on these images and what inspires her…
Vogue magazine. The rule writer. The institution. The ultimate authority on style and good taste. The magazine I would often pick up in my younger days with mixed feelings of unworthiness, curiosity, admiration and scepticism. Most of the time flicking through it would feel like peeking into the world of rich, white people I had very little in common with.
It was not associated, in my mind anyway, with celebrating culture and modesty along with creativity and design. In 2017 however, I noticed a more apparent shift in this approach, as did many of us, when the fashion industry finally started giving a tiny bit of official recognition to the modest fashion scene, which had been steadily growing for quite some years.
I won’t rehash the sociopolitical implications of this, as many writers have already done so, and done it better than me. Nope. But what I will share is that these more recent magazine images actually inspired me to delve deeper into the archives of Vogue magazine covers from around the world and uncover (ahem) striking images of women adorned with hats, hoods and head coverings, that resonated with me as an individual, and with my sense of fun, drama and creativity. So here goes gals. In no particular order, ten covers that sparked my interest:
I really feel Vogue outdid themselves with this cover. The December 2017 issue actually halted me in my tracks. Adwoa Aboah looks sublime in a way I have never seen her look before. The colours used for the retro styling and makeup are so well balanced. Despite being so fresh, the image still conveys a very classic film star quality of beauty. Bohemian and beautiful. Love it.
The lovely Halima Aden. The June 2017 cover of Vogue Arabia had a dynamic sense of movement and flow to it. Halima is beautifully styled, but I found myself craving more colour from this cover. The hoards of women across the Middle East and beyond however, who specifically choose to fashion themselves in mostly black, may disagree with me on that point.
Vogue Deutsch . This January 2012 issue is literally, as blogger Yaelle puts it “scarf heaven”. The eclectic mix of prints and colours here is fantastic and I like how they combined the sharp tailoring with the Lawrence of Arabia styling for the headwear.
The inimitable Naomi Campbell for Vogue Russia, December 2008. Another stunning cover. Looking regal and rich in colour, I think Naomi makes a big impact here. Let’s assume the best that no polar bears were harmed in the production of this cover! Does anyone remember when the supermodels took part in the no fur campaign for PETA dozens of years ago and famously declared that they would rather go naked than wear fur? Naomi has since been caught out on several occasions since then. Hopefully this wasn’t one of them.
March 1960. Flower crowns and hair garlands have had a real revival in the last couple of years, but way before Snapchat filters, this vintage Vogue cover was showing ladies how floral headgear was serious business. Love the flowers chosen for this and the bold lipstick. The temptation could have been to go full on girly with this look, but Vogue were mixing it up even back then with some formal tailoring and a strong and clean makeup look.
Vogue October 1956. This vintage cover was interesting to me as I hadn’t seen this style of headwrap or turban sported by women of this era before. The editors were clearly focused on promoting this accessory as can be seen from their choice to use images of the same model from different angles, wearing different designs of the headwrap. The rest of the clothing has been kept minimalistic and plain in order to highlight the gorgeous brooches they each wear. The title suggests that this was clearly the manual of the month for how to wear your statement pieces and make impact with your accessories.
April 1991. Although Vogue went for a very clean and elegant aesthetic here, the look makes me nostalgic for my youth, taking me back to when we played dress up as kids, nicking our mums all enveloping dupattas and big spangly earrings. The scarf is also draped in a very South Asian fashion for that time period. Model Karen Mulder would have been around 21 years old here and is almost channelling a young Benazir Bhutto!
January 1960. As per the March 1960 cover this was clearly a big year for big floral hats. And this one is spectacular.
Ok, this one is just out and out fun! Long before google came up with it, Vogue editors were being playful with their trademark font. This 1964 issue fully communicates the light hearted approach the British were now taking to their sense of fashion and style after years and years of propriety. These were the years when bright colours really came into play in the UK street fashion scene.
September 1945. By this time Vogue had increasingly made the transition from stylish fashion illustrations, to colour photography for their covers. This one perfectly balances the new image of ‘girl about town’ with the picture of elegance. For generations, wearing a hat or head covering of some sort was considered the sensible and appropriate thing to do when going out and about in public. The hat completed the look and gave a whole new level of dignity, flourish and style to an otherwise humble outfit. Not to mention the fact that for some women it also framed their faces beautifully. This made me feel that the era when Vogue’s ideas about female fashion were not that far away from my own, were actually, not so very long ago.
And there we have it!, I found the process of enjoying these covers an inclusive experience of shared female heritage and proof of the fact that oftentimes we have more in common than we think. It seems such a shame that the fashion journey for many Muslim majority cultures is not so well documented – at least to my knowledge. But if anyone knows of any Arab, Asian, Turkish or Persian (or any other ) equivalent publication that has managed this, then please let me know and let me at those archives!
Thank you so much Sonia, we loved reading your insight ! Especially the part about your mum’s dupattas! Find me a daughter of the sub-continent who didn’t do that! You can find more of Sonia Malik’s inpirations here as she documents and promotes variety within modest fashion.