Jeddah

All the Supermodels Spotted at Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea International Film Festival

All the Supermodels Spotted at Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea International Film Festival

Alessandra Ambrosio. Photo: Amina Zaher
Last night, Saudi Arabia hosted the opening of its very first film festival, and as one would imagine, the evening was an unforgettable one, bringing together not just talent from the Middle East, but from all over the world. On the star-studded guest list were the likes of jury member Hend Sabri and iconic actors Yousra and Lebleba, along with Ahd Kamel, Mila Al Zahrani, Karen Wazen, Tara Emad, Rawkan Binbella, Cynthia Samuel, Mahira Abdelaziz, Razane Jammal, Saba Mubarak, and Rym Saidi. And joining them for the historic celebration were international names including Hilary Swank and Michele Morrone. The evening also gave a special honor to Egyptian actor Laila Elwi, French actor, singer, model and producer Catherine Deneuve, and Saudi filmmaker Haifaa Al Mansour.
Among the many names on the red carpet last night, the Red Sea International Film Festival was also attended by a league of supers—aka, some of the world’s most loved supermodels. Take a closer look at all the runway personalities who flew over to Jeddah to celebrate Arab talent and the many contributions of Arab cinema.

Shanina Shaik
Shanina Shaik. Photo: Amina Zaher
“Being part Saudi Arabian myself, [the Red Sea International Film Festival] is very special for me, and it’s a very special trip. It’s very exciting to see history being made today,” a glowing Shanina Shaik revealed on the red carpet in Jeddah last night. For her evening out in the kingdom, the 30-year-old opted for a sparkling black Mônot gown with sheer draping. The look was completed with a sleek updo.
Alessandra Ambrosio
Alessandra Ambrosio. Photo: Amina Zaher
Draped in an elegant Zuhair Murad gown complete with mid-waist cut-outs and embellished detailing, Alessandra Ambrosio was a vision in white at the Red Sea International Film Festival. Having traveled to the Kingdom in the past, the Brazilian model revealed to Vogue Arabia that she was thrilled to be back in the region, especially for such a momentous occasion.
Candice Swanepoel
Candice Swanepoel. Photo: Instagram.com
For Victoria’s Secret Angel Candice Swanepoel, one of the highlights of the Red Sea International Film Festival was the premiere of the musical Cyrano, starring Peter Dinklage and Haley Bennett. The South African model and philanthropist walked the red carpet in Jeddah in a less-is-more ivory gown, which came with a dramatically long trail. Her custom-made pick was also a Mônot creation.
Irina Shayk
Irina Shayk. Photo: Amina Zaher
Russian beauty Irina Shayk seemed to go the minimalistic route for her appearance at Jeddah’s debut film festival, posing for the cameras on the red carpet in an ebony gown with a boat neck and full sleeves. The surprise elements of her look were the gown’s plunging back, and Shayk’s beauty look, which stood out for her crimson lip color.
Sara Sampaio
Sara Sampaio. Photo: Instagram.com/sarasampaio
Bursting with energy on the red carpet, Portuguese model Sara Sampaio attended the festival in another Zuhair Murad ensemble. Her pick: an intricately beaded charcoal grey halter gown, which was complemented with a collection of glimmering diamond rings. Sampaio spent her evening cheering on friend Mohammed Al Turki, the Chairman of Red Sea International Film Festival. “I’m just really proud of him!” she told Vogue Arabia on the red carpet with a grin.
Read Next: From Hendi Sabri to Irina Shayk, What Your Favorite Celebrities Wore to the Red Sea International Film Festival

From Hendi Sabri to Irina Shayk, What Your Favorite Celebrities Wore to the Red Sea International Film Festival

From Hendi Sabri to Irina Shayk, What Your Favorite Celebrities Wore to the Red Sea International Film Festival

Hend Sabri. Photo: Amina Zaher
Saudi Arabia‘s historic Al-Balad lit up on the evening of December 6 as some of the world’s biggest stars descended in Jeddah for the Kingdom’s first international film festival. The Red Sea International Film Festival‘s opening night was cause for celebration not only for the Middle East’s proud actors and filmmakers, but also global talents who joined in to spotlight the many achievements of Arab cinema. Showing their support, in attendance were Marvel star Anthony Mackie, English actor Clive Owen, American actor Hilary Swank, and Italian actor Michele Morrone. Internationally-followed models Candice Swanepoel, Alessandra Ambrosio, Irina Shayk, Shanina Shaik, and Sara Sampaio also made glamorous attendees, with some donning Arab designers. While Sampaio and Shaik chose shimmering pieces from Lebanese couturier—and Ball of Arabia 2021 co-chair—Zuhair Murad, Ambrosio opted for a white number by Georges Hobeika with a thigh-high slit.
The Arab world’s stars, of course, made sure to match the energy of the historic ceremony dressed in creations by regional designers. Jury member Hend Sabri championed Saudi talent in a bespoke off-white pleated gown by Honayda. Actors Razane Jammal and Tara Emad opted for flowing silhouettes by Lebanese label Harithand, while couturier Georges Hobeika’s head-turning pieces were worn by Saba Mubarak and Rym Saidi. As for iconic actors Yousra and Lebleba, delicate violet gowns doused in embellishment were the order for the day.
It’s safe to say, however, that saturated hues ruled the red carpet last evening. While Mila Al Zahrani opted for a royal blue tulle number, Mahira Abdelaziz chatted with Vogue Arabia in a draped orange Tony Ward, and Saudi actor Ahd Kamel went the emerald route in Jeddah-based Saudi designer Ruba Bahareth. Among the most interesting looks from the evening was Karen Wazen’s sharp black pantsuit, proof that power dressing never fails.
As the evening progressed, guests were treated to a theatrical dance performance that marked the opening of the 10-day festival at the Red Sea Gala Theatre, and also witnessed an award ceremony, where three inspiring women were honored: Egyptian actress Laila Elwi, who has often been admired for her bold choice of roles, French actress, singer, model, and producer Catherine Deneuve, and Saudi filmmaker Haifaa Al Mansour, who shared a heartfelt speech. Below, we take you through some of the best red carpet moments from the Red Sea International Film Festival.
Rym Saidi in Georges Hobeika and Chopard. Photo: Amina Zaher
Saba Mubarak in Georges Hobeika. Photo: Amina Zaher
Shanina Shaik in Zuhair Murad. Photo: Amina Zaher
Lebleba. Photo: Amina Zaher
Ahd Kamel in Ruba Bahareth. Photo: Amina Zaher
Alessandra Ambrosio in Zuhair Murad. Photo: Amina Zaher
Ali Al Sharif. Photo: Amina Zaher
Elham Shahin in Heba Edris. Photo: Amina Zaher
Hend Sabri in Honayda and Fawaz Gruosi. Photo: Amina Zaher
Irina Shayk. Photo: Amina Zaher
Khairiah in Rubaiyat. Photo: Amina Zaher
Razane Jammal in Harithand. Photo: Amina Zaher
Read Next: This Fashion Sustainability Event in Saudi Arabia Encourages Guests To Swap Designer Clothing
Junior Fashion Editor: Mohammad Hazem RezqCreative producer: Ankita Chandra Local production: Basamat Arabia

From Hend Sabry to Irina Shayk, What Your Favorite Celebrities Wore to the Red Sea International Film Festival

From Hend Sabry to Irina Shayk, What Your Favorite Celebrities Wore to the Red Sea International Film Festival

Hend Sabry. Photo: Amina Zaher
Saudi Arabia‘s historic Al-Balad lit up on the evening of December 6 as some of the world’s biggest stars descended in Jeddah for the Kingdom’s first international film festival. The Red Sea International Film Festival‘s opening night was cause for celebration not only for the Middle East’s proud actors and filmmakers, but also global talents who joined in to spotlight the many achievements of Arab cinema. Showing their support, in attendance were Marvel star Anthony Mackie, English actor Clive Owen, American actor Hilary Swank, and Italian actor Michele Morrone. Internationally-followed models Candice Swanepoel, Alessandra Ambrosio, Irina Shayk, Shanina Shaik, and Sara Sampaio also made glamorous attendees, with some donning Arab designers. While Sampaio and Shaik chose shimmering pieces from Lebanese couturier—and Ball of Arabia 2021 co-chair—Zuhair Murad, Ambrosio opted for a white number by Georges Hobeika with a thigh-high slit.
The Arab world’s stars, of course, made sure to match the energy of the historic ceremony dressed in creations by regional designers. Jury member Hend Sabry championed Saudi talent in a bespoke off-white pleated gown by Honayda. Actors Razane Jammal and Tara Emad opted for flowing silhouettes by Lebanese label Harithand, while couturier Georges Hobeika’s head-turning pieces were worn by Saba Mubarak and Rym Saidi. As for iconic actors Yousra and Lebleba, delicate violet gowns doused in embellishment were the order for the day.
It’s safe to say, however, that saturated hues ruled the red carpet last evening. While Mila Al Zahrani opted for a royal blue tulle number, Mahira Abdelaziz chatted with Vogue Arabia in a draped orange Tony Ward, and Saudi actor Ahd Kamel went the emerald route in Jeddah-based Saudi designer Ruba Bahareth. Among the most interesting looks from the evening was Karen Wazen’s sharp black pantsuit, proof that power dressing never fails.
As the evening progressed, guests were treated to a theatrical dance performance that marked the opening of the 10-day festival at the Red Sea Gala Theatre, and also witnessed an award ceremony, where three inspiring women were honored: Egyptian actress Laila Elwi, who has often been admired for her bold choice of roles, French actress, singer, model, and producer Catherine Deneuve, and Saudi filmmaker Haifaa Al Mansour, who shared a heartfelt speech. Below, we take you through some of the best red carpet moments from the Red Sea International Film Festival.
Rym Saidi in Georges Hobeika and Chopard. Photo: Amina Zaher
Saba Mubarak in Georges Hobeika. Photo: Amina Zaher
Shanina Shaik in Zuhair Murad. Photo: Amina Zaher
Lebleba. Photo: Amina Zaher
Sara Sampaio. Photo: Amina Zaher
Tara Emad in Harithand. Photo: Amina Zaher
Ahd Kamel in Ruba Bahareth. Photo: Amina Zaher
Alessandra Ambrosio in Zuhair Murad. Photo: Amina Zaher
Karen Wazen and Elias Bakhazi. Photo: Amina Zaher
Ali Al Sharif. Photo: Amina Zaher
Elham Shahin in Heba Edris. Photo: Amina Zaher
Hend Sabry in Honayda and Fawaz Gruosi. Photo: Amina Zaher
Irina Shayk. Photo: Amina Zaher
Khairiah in Rubaiyat. Photo: Amina Zaher
Razane Jammal in Harithand. Photo: Amina Zaher
Read Next: This Fashion Sustainability Event in Saudi Arabia Encourages Guests To Swap Designer Clothing
Junior Fashion Editor: Mohammad Hazem RezqCreative producer: Ankita Chandra Local production: Basamat Arabia

How the Abaya is Giving Saudi Women Identity Ownership

How the Abaya is Giving Saudi Women Identity Ownership

>As the abaya experiences a coming of age, more women are exploring ownership of identity.
Photography: Vivienne Balla

There’s more to abayas than meets the eye – the very eyes men have been instructed to avert from the silky black surfaces of these loose garments to avoid temptation. But today, Saudi women are more visible than ever, opting for a presence that reveals what lies beneath – their true colors. To avoid them is as futile an exercise as is covering the sun with the palm of one’s hand. In the sprawling concrete jungles of Riyadh and Jeddah, the abaya is experiencing a rebirth, while in smaller pockets of the Kingdom, some women are lamenting the loss of tradition.
Donna AlSudairy, a Jeddah-based writer, still finds it difficult to reconcile the big shifts in women’s public sartorial choices. “Just three years ago, I would stick to black and navy. I wasn’t comfortable standing out,” she notes. It was only when she went shopping with an Australian friend that AlSudairy noticed the new social contract, to which she found herself repeatedly exclaiming, “No way can I do that!” Egged on by her friend, she eventually settled for a blue overlay. Today, AlSudairy wears midcalf abayas, and has one for each occasion: a business abaya, a night-out abaya, and a beach one, too.
Serb

The abaya as a statement piece is perhaps best reflected in the gradual sweeping of the kimono/trenchcoat-turned- abaya trend; a guiding principle for many designers who want to stay relevant. Beachbaya, a brand out of Jeddah, offers loose-fitting floral cover-ups in bright hues. Its Instagram account, easily mistaken for portraying a balmy Bali beachscape, features sun-kissed Saudi models in neon chandelier earrings with boyfriend jeans peeking underneath the draping cloaks. Taking cues from the landscape is not a phenomenon exclusive to the picturesque views of the West coast. In the Saudi capital, an ambitious, big-city nightlife feel influences brands. Torba Studio takes a more experimental, futurist approach. Launched by two college friends, Nazek AlKhulaifi and Sarah AlAmeel, it’s inspired by the billowing darkness of the night and a yearning for another planet. With galactic imageries, the studio’s disruptive streetwear abayas are capsules to the moon, embellished with glow-in- the-dark material and cosmic prints. “We take inspiration from the mystery and philosophy of the unknown. Modest wear is always preppy and clean-cut, so we wanted something edgy,” says AlKhulaifi, who insists that niqab visuals in their branding don’t parody or subjugate women. Instead, they communicate a core value. When nighttime befalls the Riyadh sky, everyone blends in and becomes anonymous.
Rooted more in the present is Farah Aziz, a former diplomat who lives alone in the city. Like a lot of Saudi women, she is going through her journey of weaning off the abaya after Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman stated in 2018 that they were not mandatory under Saudi or Islamic law. “I bought a trenchcoat but shied away from stepping out in public,” says Aziz, who limits her creative experimentation to more progressive spaces like the Diplomatic Quarter in Riyadh. “When the breeze brushed my face this one October morning, it felt like I was in New York. I felt very alive.”
An Design

Similarly, Raneen Bukhari, an art consultant based in Los Angeles, has walked a winding road of trial and error since 2011. Pushing the limits of what is permissible, she started with kaftans and maxi dresses that kept getting shorter and shorter. Eventually, she escalated to baggy shirts and pants, until she was once barred from entering an Eastern Province mall. “Even though I was ready to get in trouble, no one ultimately cared enough,” explains Bukhari, who seems to have always been in the right place at the right time – other women weren’t as lucky to slip under the radar.
One such example is Fatimah, whose professional aspirations drove her to exchange Al-Qassim for the capital, where she currently lives alone, much to her conservative family’s dismay. “My parents don’t go out much but they see the changes via social media and they aren’t too comfortable,” she shares. “But they know better than to say much in front of me because I clap back.” While adamant about leading a life that follows her own values, Fatimah is weary of straying too far from a preconceived line. “I prefer to blend in like a chameleon, so as to please my family while not compromising my beliefs.” Equally concerned with appearance and disappearance is Jude, a liberal arts graduate who recalls a time when colorful abayas were the great white whale of daring Saudi women. “Just five years ago, it was a struggle to find inspiring choices. Now, it seems like my norm is everyone else’s,” she rejoices.
Aram Kabbani

Whether it’s a sea of blackness or a prism of color, one thing is certain: Saudi women are engaged in a cultural reset of sorts, redefining the abaya by stripping it of the male gaze and casting it triumphantly under the female one. The abaya is feminine in noun and social construct – she’s come a long way and she’s blazing new trails.
Read Next: What You Need To Know About The Sheikh Hamdan-Approved Work From Home System
Originally published in the December 2020 Issue of Vogue Arabia

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