Nadia Khaya

Arab Models Rawdah Mohamed, Aouatif Saadi, and Nadia Khaya on Immigrating, Racism, and Finding Home Within

Arab Models Rawdah Mohamed, Aouatif Saadi, and Nadia Khaya on Immigrating, Racism, and Finding Home Within

In the fashion industry, the winds of change are blowing fast and furious. Nepotism, colorism, and prejudice are pushed further into the stratosphere as three women – part of a brave army leading the new world – harness the power of their authenticity to light a true path for all to come.
Nadia (back left) wears dress, Rami Al Ali; belt, necklace, Bjorn Van Den Berg; shoes, Taro Ishida; earrings, Bibi Van Der Velden. Rawdah (back right) wears – dress, Ronald Van Der Kemp. Aouatif (front) wears jacket, pants, Ronald van der kemp; top, Roberto Cavalli; shoes, Taro Ishida; necklace, Bjorn Van Den Berg. Photographed by Julien Vallon
Rawdah Mohamed
When she was six, Rawdah Mohamed visited a tailor in her hometown of Dhobley, Somalia with her mother, who had specific requirements for her Eid dress. It was a formative moment for the little girl who lived in a refugee camp – her family, including nine siblings, moved to Norway soon after.
Rawdah wears dress, headpiece, Del Core; polo neck, Falke; shoes, Taro Ishida; earrings, Bibi Van Der Velden; necklace, Van Gelder Jewellery. Photographed by Julien Vallon
They stayed in an asylum camp for 18 months until they obtained a home and were able to live together. In 2018, as her applications for retail positions got rejected one after the other because of the way she looked, she started posting her outfits on Instagram, swiftly becoming a model at Oslo fashion week. Now, with a degree in behavioral analysis and a background in healthcare, she also works with people of determination, and those on the autism spectrum. She is also mother to six-year-old daughter Sakina. A fervent activist, Mohamed started an online campaign against the hijab law in France, which went viral and was covered by media globally.
Dress, Anna Kiki. Photographed by Julien Vallon
“I want people to understand the individuality of hijabi women and the power that lies in being your authentic self. Hijabi women are fully capable of speaking for themselves and defending their rights to exist,” says Mohamed. “I try to do this by taking space in the places I deserve. I stand up for my rights and try to break barriers so that the next generation will have equal opportunities. The same way women before me paved the way for me, I, too, desire to pave the way for newcomers.” She has worked with Cartier, Tiffany & Co., Balmain, Max Mara, Prada, and Adidas, has been featured in magazine editorials, and is fashion editor at Vogue Scandinavia.
Dress, Anna Kiki; Bodysuit, Falke; headpiece, Marianne Jongkind; jewelry, Bjorn Van Den Berg. Photographed by Julien Vallon
“Through education and open dialogue with people in the industry, we can all grow. Understanding that my faith is not the norm and being patient with others while knowing when to walk away from a situation that isn’t ideal for my faith is also important,” considers Mohamed. “The future of fashion for me is one that is equally sustainable and inclusive, where the person with the most talent and interesting perspective is in a place of leadership,” she says. “It’s a future that is braver in terms of questioning the old and why things are done today,” she muses. “The future of fashion will celebrate heritage and innovative ideas and encourage new talents.”
Aouatif Saadi
Aouatif wears jacket, pants, Ronald Van Der Kemp; top, Roberto Cavalli; necklace, Bjorn Van Den Berg. Photographed by Julien Vallon
As a child, Aouatif Saadi always wanted to make her father proud. The patriarch was especially invested in her education and would open an Arabic-to-Spanish dictionary to teach her and her siblings new words for their new home. “Changing countries was exciting, but it wasn’t easy. I didn’t speak Spanish and I was the only Moroccan girl in school,” shares the 23-year-old, who moved from Casablanca to Asturias, Spain at age 10.
Dress, shirt, shoes, socks, Dior; jewelry, Bibi Van Der Velden. Photographed by Julien Vallon
“They immediately made me realize that I was different,” she recalls of her formative years. “I experienced a lot of discrimination, but I didn’t let them bring me down.” At 19, she left for Madrid to become a flight attendant, hungry for new experiences. “I love to travel, and this job would have been perfect,” she shares of her aspirations that were ultimately cut short as she was unable to pay for the school fees. Saadi moved to Paris to improve her French and soon became passionate about modeling, posting her photos on Instagram. After saving studiously, life seemed to finally offer her the dream of travel – but then Covid-19 hit and everything ground to a halt.
Dress, boots, jewelry, Schiaparelli. Photographed by Julien Vallon
“I’m also a woman who never gives up,” she assures, adding that during quarantine she started contacting modeling agencies, kick-starting her career. She was booked by Galeries Lafayette for a campaign shot by David Luraschi in May 2020 on her first day at her agency and has since appeared in editorials for Vogue Russia and campaigns for Sézane and Marni glasses. “Even today, I still can’t believe the twist my life has had,” muses Saadi. “In the end, the path that seemed impossible to me is now the one that is making me live incredible emotions and experiences.” She looks forward to a more inclusive future, where “everyone can feel comfortable in their own features and with their own background.”
Nadia Khaya
Nadia wears dress, headband, earrings, Chanel; Corset, 0770. Photographed by Julien Vallon
“From what my parents tell me, I was like a tomboy, always in the middle of nature, playing and exploring. Let’s say that I was a little wild,” laughs 20-year-old Nadia Khaya, who hails from Lakhzazra in Morocco. When she was five, her family moved to Umbria in northern Italy, where she still lives today, studying economics and culture of food at the University of Perugia.
Dress, Del Core; jewelry, Bibi Van Der Velden. Photographed by Julien Vallon
“The most difficult part was integrating myself into school,” remembers the model. “I didn’t speak Italian at all; I found it hard to communicate with anyone.” She continues, “I was often excluded by my classmates when they played, or was made fun of for my incorrect pronunciation.” With the passing of years, and help from teachers, her classmates no longer paid attention to these aspects, which were a certain point of detachment between her and other students.
Nadia (left) wears dress, Del Core; jewelry, Bibi Van Der Velden. Aouatif wears dress, Del Core; jewelry, Bibi Van Der Velden. Photographed by Julien Vallon
Today, she is still asked questions about her country, culture, and religion, but points out that she is happy to engage with others which, in some ways, can make the process of integration lighter. Touting her smile “ready to be shared with anyone” as her standout feature, Khaya joined the modeling industry a year ago after submitting her portfolio to various agencies. She has since worked for Trussardi, Off-White, Ferrari, Max & Co., Napapijri, and has been featured in editorials for Vanity Fair. “Before I started modeling, I did several jobs – waiter, babysitter – as I was always trying to be independent from my parents,” shares Khaya. Now, as part of the fashion world, she values above all its dynamism. “It allows me to experience different things, to meet new people, visit different places, and open my mind to the news. The fashion world has been changing over the years, adapting to the needs of a constantly evolving world,” she remarks.
Rawdah (at back) wears coat, headscarf, Benchellal; shoes, Givenchy; jewelry, Bjorn van den Berg. Nadia (left) wears jacket, suit, Salvatore Ferragamo; headpiece, Chanel; shoes, Louis Vuitton; jewelry, Bjoorn van den Berg. Aouatif (right) wears Suit, Duran Lantink; top, 0770; shoes, Del Core; jewelry, Bjorn van den Berg. Photographed by Julien Vallon
Khaya believes that the future of the industry will be aimed at simplicity, originality, and respect for nature. “With every creation and project there is always the goal of communicating and transmitting a message that can help our society improve and open up to diversity, allowing greater integration in all its forms.”
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Originally published in the October 2021 issue of Vogue Arabia
Photography and art direction: Julien VallonStyle: Ellen MirckCGI Artist: Muhcine EnnouSenior fashion market editor: Amine JreissatiHair: Ilham MestourMakeup: Naïma BremerNails: Daniel SmedemanMovement director: Floor EimersCreative producer: Laura PriorProduction: Reverse Republic PhotographyAssistant: Florent VindimianDigital assistant: Lorenzo Du VigierStyle assistants: Marina Micuccio, Stephanie Van Bussel, Anneke Loyh, Valentina VerbeekMakeup assistant: Jimmy StamHair assistants: Marc Sew-Atjon, Bert Visser, Sarah SchaapModels: Rawdah at Idol Looks, Aouatif Saadi Jellouli at Select Model Management Paris, Nadia Khaya at Independent Mgmt

Go Inside the Vogue Arabia October 2021 Issue for Fashion’s New Frontiers

Go Inside the Vogue Arabia October 2021 Issue for Fashion’s New Frontiers

Rawdah Mohamed and Nadia Khaya photographed by Julien Vallon for Vogue Arabia October 2021
A future void of colorism, nepotism, and sexism. A future where each individual can proudly own her truth, her history, her authentic self. The Vogue Arabia October 2021 issue points to a new world, a community of individuals who are like-minded in their quest for excellence and non-conformism. On the cover, the leaders of the new guard are model and activist Rawdah Mohamed, Nadia Khaya, and Aouatif Saadi.
Lensed by Julien Vallon, they share their individual journeys of immigration and finding home within. “I want people to understand the individuality of hijabi women and the power that lies in being your authentic self. Hijabi women are fully capable of speaking for themselves and defending their rights to exist,” states Mohamed. “I try to do this by taking space in the places I deserve. I stand up for my rights and try to break barriers so that the next generation will have equal opportunities. The same way women before me paved the way for me, I too, desire to pave the way for newcomers.”
As Expo 2020 Dubai launches this month, Vogue Arabia reflects on the region’s remarkable achievements and honors the women of the past who helped forecast the world of tomorrow, the issue offers tributes to Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid, Egyptian feminist and writer Nawal El Saadawi, and Fatima Al-Fihri, Tunisian founder of the Al-Qarawiyyin mosque—women who broke barriers and whose achievements shaped the world of today.
From left: Fatima Al-Fihri, Zaha Hadid, Assia Dagher, and Sameera Moussa. Illustrated by Nourie Flayhan
Looking to those who link the present and future, Vogue Arabia explores how creativity is passed down through families. Georges and Jad Hobeika; Georges and Jennifer Chakra; Stefan, Sylveli, Christian, and Yasmine Hemmerle—couturiers and high jewelry designers sharing the passion and expertise in craft from one generation to the next.
Georges and Jad Hobeika. Photographed by Patrick Sawaya
Continuing our highlight on exceptional and unique talent, the feature The Vanguards highlights artists like Lebanese designer Khaled El Mays, Saudi street artist Noura Bin Saidan, and Dubai-based couturier Andrea Brocca who are pushing boundaries and attracting the attention of the likes of Dior and Lady Gaga along the way.
Noura Bin Saidan. Photo: Courtesy of NEOM
Stepping inside the magnificent salons of the Valentino Paris headquarters, editor-in-chief Manuel Arnaut sits down with Pierpaolo Piccioli, and debates whether fashion is art, both men taking opposing views of the subject. In an exclusive preview of the couture collection, ahead of its reveal in Venice, the two men reflect on his painterly eye for color with Piccioli remarking that blending hues requires the eye of a master.
Valentino couture. Photographed by Bruno & Nico van Mossevelde
In beauty, the latest techniques are explored, particularly biomes; the art of using the skin’s living bacteria to rejuvenate the face. Meanwhile, the artistry of perfume is examined through the eyes and words of one of the world’s greatest architects Frank Gehry and his first collaboration with fragrance with Louis Vuitton.
Rakeen Saad photographed by Amina Zaher
There remain, of course, many obstacles to women today—and bullying is one of them. Vogue Arabia speaks with Rakeen Saad, Jordanian actor and leading star of the Netflix show Al Rawabi School for Girls, which shines the spotlight on this form of cruelty that knows no borders. “As Arab woman, walking on the streets and being picked on by men is a form of bullying,” she states. Pointing that empathy is the way forward, she continues, “I feel sorry for those who bully. I believe that they are suffering themselves and they mirror their feelings onto others.” Here is to the future world, one which elevates kindness and creativity—both have no limit and are right at home in these pages.
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