“What’s the point of a fashion magazine now?” was a rather confronting headline The New York Times ran back in April, when Coronavirus’ grip was tightening on us all, its reality becoming a waking nightmare that we had yet to even fully grasp. The premise was that the job of glossies, first and foremost, was to sell fantasy, but with the rapidly changing tides shifting beneath us, that we now had a complicated moral reckoning to contend with.
In the face of that existential publishing crisis, one (me, probably) could argue that fantasy is a life-raft in times of strife, which, sure, is valid – but is also pretty reductive. Magazines should be – and many are – so much more than just a vehicle to flog a handbag or two (although ain’t no shame in that). Since its launch in 1867, Harper’s Bazaar has pushed for gender equality (even our founding Editor was a vocal suffragette) and been a bastion of agenda-setting conversation. It was published through wars, depressions and, yes, even pandemics, and alongside showcasing the best in fashion, has always held a mirror up to society to ask complex, defining questions of how we can all improve – for ourselves, and for the world around us.
Photography by Toufic Araman
For Harper’s Bazaar Arabia, that means a judgement-free space to discuss anxiety and mental health, a place to celebrate talent, craft and community, a platform to amplify regional voices and a home for exploring fresh perspectives, and to communicate it in a way that lifts, inspires and empowers women.
We stand for diversity as much as beauty, acknowledging them as inextricably linked, and bringing together no less than 10 nationalities to create this issue’s cover story – a powerful statement about representation at a time when we need it more than ever. Here, we asked eight regional designers to reimagine the face mask; the latest item of clothing to take utilitarian roots and be co-opted by fashion into the (literal) ‘must-have’ accessory that – quite frankly – no one saw coming. Well, no one apart from the fashion-data sites that reported a 496 per cent increase in searches for them from February to April. Is the mask here to stay? Probably. Should it be absorbed into the world of fashion? Possibly. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from editing a magazine, it’s that we have a responsibility to shine a light on the times – good and bad – and make you question what we can do to change them for the better.
Sunglasses, Dhs870, Valentino
Shirt, Dhs500, Stateside at Shopbop
Trousers, Dhs3,180, Peter Do at Net-a-Porter
Shoes, Dhs4,450, Bottega Veneta
Ring, POA, Meadowlark
From Olivia's (WFH) Desk
This month you’ll find me obsessively watching Netflix’s Hollywood, re-reading the essential Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race and using the game-changing, UAE-based, hand-blended KJ Serums
Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge, Dhs55, Amazon
HA-ppy Face Hyaluronic Acid and Vitamin E Serum, Dhs85, KJ Serums
Good Morning Sunshine Fabric Banner, Dhs250, House of Hooray
Harper's Bazaar Arabia Summer 2020 Issue