Princess Hayfa graces Vogue historic cover in the driver’s seat
For the first time in the fashion powerhouse name’s history, a Saudi princess is gracing the cover of Vogue Arabia, in an issue dedicated to honoring Saudi women’s accomplishments and developments in recent months. More momentous is the special’s cover photo, where Princess Hayfa bint Abdullah Al Saud takes control of a steering wheel; a powerful visual statement in celebration of the decree allowing Saudi women to obtain driver’s licenses, and taking effect over the next few days.
Princess bint Abdullah’s cover and issue made the rounds of international media outlets and news agencies, and not without reason. This marks the first Vogue issue to be fully dedicated to Saudi Arabia, and equally, the first time a Saudi princess graces the cover of the magazine since it was established in 1892.
Pride to own
On its website, Vogue released an article celebrating “unprecedented” developments on Saudi women’s right to drive as the key inspiration behind the magazine’s decision to dedicate and publish a full issue for the Kingdom and its women. “This June, the month when Saudi women will finally be able to take the wheel, Vogue Arabia celebrates the exciting and progressive changes transforming the Kingdom and, by ripple effect, our region. We also honor its incredible women in fashion, arts, and diplomacy, whose work deserves worldwide recognition. Embodying this new era of female empowerment is HRH Princess Hayfa bint Abdullah Al Saud, this month’s cover star,” wrote Manuel Arnault, the magazine’s editor-in-chief.
Vogue’s iconic cover is now all the more so with Princess Hayfa’s inspirational shot in the driver’s seat, taken by renowned photographer, Boo Georges, in the Jeddah desert. “As I got to know Princess Hayfa better, my admiration for her grew. A generous woman with a truly elegant and noble presence, she is the daughter of the late King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia,” said Arnault, adding: “A mother of three, the princess dedicates her life to her family and her art […] I was deeply honored when Her Royal Highness decided to accept our invitation to grace our June cover. As people from the region are aware, the ruling families of Arabia are extremely private, and I am humbled by such an act of trust.”
A snapshot of the momentum
On its website, Vogue Arabia published snippets and extracts from its lengthy interview with the princess. Focally and purposely, the discussion centered on developments the Kingdom underwent in the past few months, and on unprecedented reforms on women’s rights and state of affairs in line with the Saudi National Vision 2030.
While some conservatives in Saudi Arabia feared this change, the princess noted, she welcomes it with open arms. “It is easy to comment on other people’s societies and think that your own society is superior, but the Western world must remember that each country is specific and unique. We have strengths and weaknesses but, invariably, it’s our culture, and it’s better to try to understand it than to judge it,” she tells Vogue Arabia.
Vogue Arabia’s special issue celebrated other leading and power Saudi women paving the way for others in the Kingdom; like football player Saja Kamal, who is ambitiously eyeing the formation and participation of the first ever female team to represent Saudi Arabia at the FIFA World Cup championship – particularly as the country gained football momentum through its FIFA qualification for this year.
Other featured figures included Ahd Kamel, the first Saudi female actor to star in a Netflix series, Fatimah Baeshen, the first spokeswoman for the Saudi Embassy in Washington, and Shanina Shaik, the originally Saudi supermodel who has already walked the runways of Tom Ford and Stella McCartney.
Naturally, the Vogue issue also shed the light on emerging fashion female names and game changers, such as designers Dana Abu Ahmed, Al Jawhara Abdulaziz Al-Shuhail, Arwa Al Bannawi, Nora Al Shaikh, and Layla Moussa.
The magazine sat down with award-winning Saudi-American photographer Tasneem Alsultan, and published exclusive statements by human rights figure and activist Amal Clooney around women’s empowerment. The special issue hits the stands today, only days away from the Kingdom’s ban lift on female drivers on June 24.
History in arts
Princess Hayfa is the daughter of the late King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, and the wife of Prince Abdulaziz bin Nawaf Al Saud – with whom she has three children, Nawaf, Abdullah and Nourah.
An avid arts enthusiast since her childhood years, she held her first arts exhibition in March 2016 under the theme “Starting Point”, showcasing her 242 paintings and art pieces; the product of her 16-year arts career and labor of love.
The princess is also heavily involved in charity, often donating the proceeds of her arts exhibitions to non-profit and health organizations, such as the National Institute for Home Healthcare.
Throughout her career, Princess Hayfa’s body of work was heavily influenced and inspired by Frieda Kahlo, painting her works with a surreal artistic touch. She invested both time and passion into her craft, graduating from the Academy of Fine Arts in San Francisco, and later pursuing a master’s degree from the same institution.
Through her art transpires her purpose to bring out the bold, adventurous and happy side of human beings and avid art lovers.
French fashion title Vogue is among the most established and oldest powerhouse voices in fashion, releasing 23 local and regional issues a month under the CondeNast publishing conglomerate. Since it was founded in 1892, the magazine has clocked up over 11 million issues, and equally, millions of followers and readers on its website.
The New York Times has previously pronounced Vogue as the most influential fashion title in the world, fronted and led editorially by renowned names in the business, such as Anna Wintour.
The magazine has consistently rallied in support of a number of political and cultural issues pertaining to women, and has covered, over the years, several Muslim and Arab women’s clout on and inspiration to fashion and culture.