Rihanna is Vogue Arabia’s November cover star, reimagined as Queen Nefertiti. According to its editor-in-chief Manuel Arnaut, the issue is dedicated to strong and dynamic women: “Rihanna, our cover star, is one of them," he wrote in the editor’s letter. "Not only is she one of the most successful pop icons ever, shaping the entertainment industry with her powerful tunes and unique sense of style, she is also an advocate for diversity.” The magazine began teasing the cover on Instagram earlier this month, writing: “Fashion history in the making. Thousands of years apart, two iconic women will finally meet in the pages of Vogue Arabia.”
As the glossy pointed out, Nefertiti — which literally means “the beautiful one has come” — was an Ancient Egyptian queen, who had a very active role in the country’s political sphere, is the picture of women’s empowerment (not unlike a certain someone we know). And for celebrity stylist Anya Ziourova, who was tasked with bringing the vision to life via the clothes, it was important to recreate the image of Queen Nefertiti, but with a modern twist.
“I had been thinking about [the concept] for a few months,” Ziourova tells Refinery29. “Since we knew we were going to do [the cover shoot], I wanted something that hadn’t been done with Rihanna before even though she makes bold, amazing fashion choices. I wanted to find something special, and it was important for the concept to fit within the Middle Eastern market.”
Ziourova started researching Nefertiti and soon learned that the Egyptian queen, who ruled next to her husband Pharaoh Akhenaten almost 3,500 years ago, was a very strong character; she was modern for her time, powerful, and, of course, beautiful. “In similar fashion,” she says, “Rihanna is the modern queen Nefertiti: powerful, intelligent, extremely beautiful, innovative, and revolutionary.” The concept was — in one word — perfect, and the similarities were cemented when Ziourova realized after the fact that Rihanna actually has a sideboob tattoo of Nefertiti.
“I have to say that her team is amazing, professional and creative," Ziourova continued. "They embraced this idea and [Rihanna] loved the concept." As for the clothes, "I had a wonderful milliner, Ashley Ruprecht from Faeth Millinery, create a special Nefertiti headpiece for her for this story, which I had [transported] from New York to London,” she explains. “We decided to go with modern clothing and oversized looks from Balenciaga and Céline while having that modern relation to Nefertiti with the headpiece on Rihanna.” And it's that balance that really brought everything together.
See the full vision for yourself when the issue hits newsstands on November 1.