I’m in love with Vogue Arabia’s first anniversary cover, which features the legendary Somalian supermodel Iman and this generation’s phenom, Imaan Hammam, a Dutch-born supermodel of Moroccan and Egyptian heritage. Wearing traditional head wraps, cloaked in clouds of Marabou feathers fresh off the couture runway of Saint Laurent, the two wonderful women—both of whom I’m lucky enough to call friends—epitomize regal beauty.
Iman—well, she’s Iman. What more needs to be said? “Baby Girl Imaan,” as I call her; she’s the model of the moment. She has already appeared on multiple Vogue covers and is slaying it one sexy step at a time on every designer runway from New York to Tokyo.
In his monthly letter, Vogue Arabia Editor-in-Chief Manuel Arnaut writes of his choice of this iconic issue’s cover girls:
I truly believe that a cover should also encapsulate a message of hope and go above and beyond just a pretty image. This is exactly what we tried to achieve when we invited two of the biggest models with strong ties to the Arab world to be our March cover stars.
Right now, fashion-philes are hoofing it all over the globe to get their hands on one of the special-edition issues, where Iman shares her thoughts on her lifelong career in fashion, from being discovered as a model in 1975 to her fight for equal pay as a black model. (It’s a fight black models continue to wage every day; just last week, Naomi Campbell posted on Instagram that she contended with the same issue last December when she shot the Swarovski campaign.)
Iman also speaks openly to Vogue about reconciling her religion with her career. She says, “It is an oxymoron to have your foot in the modeling business and to call yourself a Muslim, but at the end of the day, you need to look in the mirror and feel good when you ask, ‘Am I doing the right thing?’”
Hammam, like every other black model walking the runway and smiling for the camera today, praises Iman for paving the way for all black girls. Hamman tells Vogue that she is also fiercely proud of being at the forefront of the ongoing diversity movement. “Fashion is all about having a personality—and nothing is as inspiring as the power of being you,” she says.
The choice of head wraps for the cover at once inspires pride and curiosity about the history of the head wrap. Nnenna Stella, owner of Brooklyn, N.Y.-based the Wrap Life, created the cover look using a prototype for a forthcoming collection of traditional scarves, which will retail on her website for a reasonable $24-$27.
Landing any cover, let alone a historic and collectible cover like the anniversary issue of Vogue Arabia, was literally the answer to this entrepreneur’s prayers. “I’ve never wrapped that way before,” Stella says of the Nefertiti-esque black-and-white silk-chiffon turbans created for the cover. “My fingers were just flowing, and that is essentially what I tell my clients to do.” The Wrap Life’s head wraps are 2 yards long and between 22 and 24 inches wide. “A wrap is just a piece of fabric,” she says. “Everything else we wear, like pants, are precut for us so we know how to wear it.”
Ironically, Stella did not grow up wearing head wraps. She tells The Glow Up that when she founded the Wrap Life five years ago, “I was waitressing, and really sad about it; my photography career wasn’t working out.” After 30 days of an ad hoc self-discovery workshop—which, among other things, included keeping a journal marked “Wild Things Can Happen”—she wanted to change up her look as part of the spiritual reboot.
“Normally, you’d just get a lipstick or a haircut,” Stella says. But she was looking for that “one extra thing [she] could do.” That extra form of expression turned out to be wearing a head wrap. The look quickly became her signature, and when she couldn’t find head wraps she liked online, it became her business. In her words: “It’s instantly transformative to have a beautiful piece of fabric on your head.”
Diversity and equal representation in the beauty and fashion industries is a hard-fought and necessary cause, so to be a part of pushing the cause and conversation along is a great honor. To have my iconic muse Iman, and new muse Imaan Hammam, on the anniversary Vogue Arabia cover at once is my wildest fantasy come true. Two melanin queens clad in couture on a total of three covers that will wrap the globe ... I could not be more thrilled.
The Glow Up couldn’t agree more.