Undoubtedly, there are many Arab models. Unfortunately, not many of them walk the haute couture catwalks. But could that be changing?
Tunisian model Azza Slimene rocked our world and gave Arab models more hope when she walked for Chanel in the Fall 2018 show at Paris Fashion Week (PFW). The 21-year-old, who is signed with NEXT Models Paris, is the fifth model of Arab decent to walk for this fashion house heavyweight. Previously, Chanel has invited four other Arabs to grace their catwalk; Imaan Hammam, Nora Attal, Hanaa Ben Abdesslem, and Sonia Ben Ammar… and they're all worth noting.
Aside from Iman, David Bowie's Somalian supermodel wife, and less famous but notable Afef Jnifen (the now 54-year-old Tunisian model, actress and television presenter), and Farida Khelfa (57-year-old French Algerian model and former muse to big fashion houses such as Jean Paul Gaultier, Thieryy Mugler and Azzedine Alaia) there weren't many famous Arab models until now.
It's safe to say that Hanaa Ben Abdesslem paved the way for millennial Arab models in the truest sense. The 28-year-old Tunisian is the first Arab model to be featured in the coveted Pirelli Calendar. She's also the first Muslim spokesperson for Lancome. She's worked for the likes of Jean Paul Gautier, Vivienne Westwood, Chanel, Oscar de la Renta, and Anna Sui too.
Then there's the much buzzed about Sonia Ben Ammar. This 19-year-old model, singer and actress is known for being a favorite of Dolce & Gabbana, who she's walked for more than four times. She's also worked with Chanel and Miu Miu, and has 588,000 followers on Instagram.
Imaan Hammam, a 21-year-old Dutch model of Egyptian and Moroccan descent, has walked for Chanel and appeared in American Vogue, not once, but three times.
Nora Attal – the Moroccan-British 18-year-old whose portfolio includes a campaign for JW Anderson, Prada and Versace – has also had two international Vogue covers and one Vogue Arabia cover.
While in the world of modeling, a handful of Arab models seems like a paltry sum; we must remember that the world is changing and the fashion industry is becoming a lot more inclusive and diverse in order to be on trend.