What do we look for when we flick through the pages of a fashion magazine? When we browse the digital versions or social media outlets? To make our eyes sparkle? Yes. To be aware of what is in and what is out this year? Yes. To spend money simply to impress others and even look like them? Or perhaps to be radically different? To deal with what continues to rule our lives: our physical appearances? Yes, yes and also yes. But what we look for, above all, in a fashion magazine, are the stories, the (fairy) tales.
The story of this piece of fabric that has become a red carpet worthy gown. The story of that gem, that we will wear even to bed. The story of those sunglasses, these hats, those coats, or even that sarong, that will never be thrown away. The story of the young designers who want their ideas to change the world, like every form of art does. These young designers who want their creations to be breathtaking and to sell well, of course, but to also be sustainable, responsible; like weapons of massive construction changing and twisting mentalities, perceptions, and stubbornness along the way… The story of that luxury brand that finally understood that it was time to change its strategy, how it goes about its operations, and that it’s no longer only about making money. A thousand and one stories, just like the ones our mothers used to tell us when we went to bed at night, to fall asleep with a hearty smile, ready to dream all night long. This is what we look for above all in a fashion magazine: stories that teach us everyday, that make us dream, transporting us to the beyond. Because in 2021, more than ever, we urgently need (and want) to dream.
What do we look for when we want to approach and understand the Arab world and all its layers, whether we ourselves are Arabs, Danes, Japanese, Americans, Senegalese, Australians or Brazilians? Is it if what foreign TV stations broadcast is true or false? Yes. Is it to check if the misery is actually less painful under the sun? Yes. Is it for us to realize that this region, which is still one of the most extraordinary cradles of humanity, is a majestic Babel tower where one hundred and one colors, sounds, scents, flavors coexist? Yes, yes and also yes. But what we are looking for above all is still, and always will be, stories.
The stories of the women and men, ages 18 to 108, artists, creatives or active members of civil societies, who tirelessly attempt every day to show the rest of the world, the real Arabian identity, whether Muslims, Christians or Jews. The true face of Arabs: openness, tolerance, conviviality, generosity, fun, spark, inventiveness, pugnacity, resilience… Arabs proud of their roots, their heritage, and their breathtakingly mixed culture… This is what we look for above all, when we are so intrigued by the Arab world: for the stories that teach us everyday, that make us dream. Because, again and again, in 2021, and more than ever, we urgently need (and want) to dream.
It is for this reason and only this, that I willingly and eagerly took on the proposal of Tania Fares, an oh-so-passionate woman, who convinced me to be the editor-in-chief of Pulse, the digital fashion magazine of Fashion Trust Arabia. This is why I happily broke my self-made promise to never return to journalism, after a 20 year journey in a wonderful institution, L’Orient-Le Jour, one of the region’s leading newspaper, published in Beirut and in French since 1924. I gladly and thrillingly said yes, as I want to seek to share with you stories, daily, that will make you, and us, dream. A mission literally impossible without the core dream team of Fashion Trust Arabia (Assaad, Avo, Dana, Elina, Hala, Marta, Mélanie, Minerva, Nathalie and Sophie), and without brilliant journalists from every corner of the world: we all are nothing but storytellers.
We will strive to tell you the stories of these Arab fashion designers, artisans, craftsmen, photographers, stylists, models, hairdressers, make-up artists, and investors… The stories of the epic of these pieces of fabric, gems, or accessories; the stories of these extraordinary small shops hidden at the end of an alley in a city somewhere in Algeria, Bahrain, the Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, or Yemen. Stories with glitter and glamour, with tears and laughter, with substance, numbers and facts, and with tips and tricks and lists. And, finally, stories focused on these hundreds of young artists who apply each year, from all over the MENA region, to the prestigious FTA prize, this NGO, bigger than life and unique in its kind in the Arab world, co-founded by HE Sheikha Al-Mayassa bint Hamad bint Khalifa Al-Thani and Tania Fares, and which should one day be declared of public utility by the 22 countries of the Arab League.
Stories, I deeply hope, that will make the Arab world in general, and its fashion in particular, indispensable, magnetic and more pulsating than ever. Again. Stories that will make you, and us, dream. Again.