If there’s one stereotype about Arab women that Deena Aljuhani Abdulaziz cannot abide, it’s that they have a surfeit of money and a dearth of taste.
“It’s the absolute contrary,” the Saudi native insists, in her impeccable American English. “Arab women have been couture clients since the late Sixties. They are discreet society women who do not necessarily announce what they spend. It’s considered vulgar to show it off, to be photographed.”
Abdulaziz, 41, may be the exception: during fashion week the photographers can’t get enough of her gamine crop and elegant-with-an-edge outfits. The former owner of the members-only D’NA boutique is credited with introducing British designers such as Mary Katrantzou and Erdem to the Arab region, as well as persuading others to adapt their designs by dropping a hem, as Diane von Furstenberg did with her wrap dress, or raising a neckline.
Inez and Vinoodh
This intimate knowledge of Arab consumers makes Abdulaziz well placed to take the helm at Vogue Arabia, which launched digitally in early November and will publish 11 issues a year from March. She says the magazine, published in partnership with Nervora, which also runs Style.com/arabia, will respect traditional Islamic modesty but square it with aspirational fashion, mixing Western labels with the Arab designers, such as Reem Al Kanhal, that she herself wears.
The publication will be based in Dubai, and Abdulaziz, being Riyadh-based, will commute by jet. “It’s only an hour away by plane,” she says breezily.