Vogue Arabia’s Cover Celebrates Black & Brown Beauty

On Tuesday morning, designer Nnenna Stella was scrolling through Instagram in a coffee shop when she found out her Brooklyn-based label The Wrap Life was featured on Vogue Arabia’s one-year anniversary March cover starring two of the Arab world’s most famous models. “I was so hype,” she tells Refinery29 of seeing models Iman and Imaan Hammam wearing her head wraps alongside Saint Laurent dresses. “My hands started shaking and I forgot what I was ordering. I didn’t even know when the cover was coming out, and then Iman sent me an email” — yes, that Iman, who Stella styled for the Black Panther New York premiere — “30 minutes later with a big-ass picture of the cover.”

Coincidently, when Vogue Arabia reached out to Stella, she thought it was a joke. “I was like Vogue? Yeah, right, have them send the call sheet!” Apparently, people who reach out to her don’t always have the best intentions, so she says when the inquiry turned out to be legit, it was a surreal feeling. But the company actually did send a call sheet on a Friday, "and by Sunday, I was on set, styling wraps.”

She says working on the set for the magazine’s biggest issue ever filled with “fashion trends, bold beauty, empowering women, icons of Arabia, celebrity interviews, and a Middle Eastern royal contributor” was great experience. Vogue Arabia showed attention to make sure the representation was balanced, whether that meant pulling a shirt up as not to show too much skin, or understanding the demographic the magazine is intended for. Stella says it was great to see a publication respect a culture’s practices and beliefs. “This strategy was so special because it was inclusive and diverse, and I really appreciate that as a woman of color.”

She shared the cover on Instagram and captioned it: “As wearing head wraps and headdress become more common, we are so excited to be of service in a way that shares black and brown beauty. The world needs more of it. Thank you to the team at Vogue for inviting us. What a dream.”

Stella started in company four years ago after a 30-day-challenge of self discovery; she was feeling uninspired in her work as a waitress. “When you have a clear picture of yourself, it gives you certain room to want to be expressive,” she explains. “As I started to understand who Nnenna is, I wanted to be more colorful and vibrant,” but it was fashioning a winter scarf that was the kick off. “I tied it around my head and it felt really incredible. And that was one hint to start the company. I just wanted to give other women this really good feeling of wearing beautiful textiles, styling them, and walking out into the world. Everything you wear is saying something. It’s really transformative, it’s really magical.”

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