Update: In an off-hand statement to TMZ, designer Tommy Hilfiger said collaborator Gigi Hadid’s latest Vogue cover (for Vogue Arabia's debut issue) is “beautiful” and “incredible.” Hilfiger thinks it’s so grand, in fact, that it could help "melt" the relations between the U.S. and the Middle East. Or at least “increase the love between the Middle East and America,” for model Gigi Hadid is “the conduit.”
Hadid is half-Palestinian and wears a hijab throughout her spread in the magazine. While we agree she is pretty fabulous, we’re not sure one fashion magazine cover is all it’s going to take to mend the current political climate. But, here's hoping? We've reached out to the brand for additional comment and will update this post once we hear back.
This article was originally published on March 1st, 2017.
Needless to say, being on the cover of Vogue is a huge achievement for a model; it's a rite of passage, basically. Once you add that to your book, well, you're pretty much set for life professionally. Okay, it's not that simple, but if you can nab several over the course of your career, including international editions, you're bound to be a household name. Of course, someone like Gigi Hadid is already a household name, but her latest high-profile cover stands out as a pivotal moment in the 21-year old model's career. Hadid is on the cover of Vogue Arabia's first-ever issue.
The magazine's digital platform was unveiled first, and its inaugural print issue was revealed today. Throughout the site, features and outfit roundups on Hadid and her street style populate the pages, next to features on, say, the Middle Eastern T-shirt brands we need on our radars. Hadid was photographed by Inez & Vinoodh and styled by designer Brandon Maxwell, who recently created a custom gown and hijab for Syrian refugee Hala Kamil at the Oscars.
At first glance, you might wonder what Gigi Hadid is doing on the cover of Vogue Arabia, in a head scarf. But Hadid is actually half-Palestinian. And when she posted the cover to her Instagram, the model penned a response to any impending controversy that awaited her cover. "I think the beautiful thing about there being international Vogue's is that, as a fashion community, we are able to celebrate, and share with the world, different cultures," she wrote.
"Being half-Palestinian, it means the world to me to be on the first-ever cover(s) of @voguearabia, and I hope that this magazine will show another layer of the fashion industry's desire to continue to accept, celebrate, and incorporate all people & customs and make everyone feel like they have fashion images and moments they can relate to... & learn and grow in doing so." Hadid's caption is well-aligned with the theme of the issue, "Reorienting Perceptions."
Her message is certainly well-written and bears good intentions, but that doesn't mean it's going to be well-received by all. And it's worth noting that many models, especially those who are caught in the middle of cultural appropriation controversy, tend to remain silent until their latest shoot is met with backlash (such as Karlie Kloss and that geisha editorial in American Vogue, or literally any of these embarrassingly tone-deaf blackface moments), after which they'll issue a formal apology via Twitter or Instagram after the fact. Or, sometimes, perhaps at the advice of their agents, they don't say anything at all.
Where the comments section of her profile remain pretty supportive (presumably a showing of her fans, for the most part), the same cannot be said for the magazine's account. "Hopefully you'll hire Arabian models occasionally and don't go Vogue Japan way," wrote one user. "Been waiting for this for so long ?? maybe you'll give a chance to Arab models like what Harper's Bazaar did," wrote another. And while these reactions are legitimate, it'd seem that Vogue Arabia's editor-in-chief, Princess Deena Aljuhani Abdulaziz considers Hadid a happy medium between being culturally honest, and satisfying the crave of celebrity culture that will ensure it sells.
“In one poised photograph, she communicates a thousand words to a region that’s been waiting far too long for its Vogue voice to speak,” Aljuhani Abdulaziz said in a reveal post on the glossy's website. The shoot, which features Hadid in a hijab, is meant to emphasize the model's roots (as Palestine is one of the 22 states that make of the Arab League). The editor believes Gigi embodies "tomorrow’s entrepreneurial and dynamic generation," which, after two collections with Tommy Hilfiger, her role as a Victoria's Secret Angel, beauty campaigns, and her very own Barbie doll, is true.
This marks Hadid's astonishing 17th Vogue cover in three years, including her cover of Vogue Italia, which saw similar backlash over Hadid's hairpiece. Vogue Arabia's March issue will be on newsstands across the Middle East and North African regions on March 5th, as well as in international fashion capitals, such as London, Paris, and Milan.