The Paradigm is Shifting

Vogue

At last, creating alongside real legends of an industry. Publishing is now digital-first, courtesy of Bonne Marque.

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It’s no coincidence that the publishing company Nervora chose Bonne Marque as their partners to launch Vogue Arabia. We had been moving towards clients of this stature. It was our time. In 2016, we completely embraced an ‘our way or no way’ bold approach in both our creative process and design. Nervora instinctively recognised this as though we were two brothers separated from birth; from first contact, it was clear we were a good fit.

We were honoured to have been given the task to design Vogue’s revolutionary digital-first launch, conducting their grand introduction to the Middle East. On two levels we were turning an industry on its head. This launch permanently marks the publishing industry, prioritising digital over print for the first time. There were vast challenges in terms of prestige and implications, also bearing in mind that our design would have to suit both the Arabic and English language, both left to right and right to left reading manners. The unbelievably demanding technical requirements of the project loomed large.

An early conversation with Vogue’s Editor in Chief and International Art Director, Princess Deena and Fiona respectively, established the tone the design needed to be. They reminded us in no uncertain terms that the image is everything, and everyone agreed that our work would reflect the finest traits of traditional print aesthetics, with elements such as large and overlapping logos, big typography, and bigger images, while bringing the iconic brand into a digital-first future at the same time. Perfection was the benchmark. This is Vogue.

Darkness attracts darkness, and bold brands are similarly drawn to creative agencies with backbone.

Alexander Engzell
Our landing page design: a promise to expect an intense and bold new era of Vogue.

This, the twenty-second edition of Vogue, is for every woman in the twenty-two countries across the Arab world.

Rationale

Creating a distinct Vogue Arabia brand to stand out amongst the other Vogue brands was our first task. The tone was set from meetings with influential members of Conde Nast. The black, white and gold colour scheme is elegant. The English-language typefaces – Caslon and Garamond as the serifs for the main titles and body copy and Avenir for the subtitles and smaller copy – are classic, readable and alluring. The ligature in Caslon and its forward-leaning lower-case ‘f’ are remarkable. Using ‘Avenir condensed’ for categories and subcategories ensures legibility and space-saving, keeping focus on more important elements. Remember, image is everything. For the Arabic translations, Akhbar for titles and Nazanin for body text, after consulting a Dubai-based Art Director with whom Bonne Marque collaborate.

The article page is a paradigm of clean design and, above all else, easy to read. It would be remiss of us to overlook the function of this page, and no one can say the design on Vogue Arabia doesn’t contribute to an enjoyable reading experience. The challenge of the article page design lay in creating a system by which differently sized images would always fit into an article perfectly. We accommodated for videos, full width images and many more variables; other elements such as authors, share capabilities, advertisements, tags and section breakers challenged our will to maintain a clean design in the midst of so many additions. We designed four types of galleries: storytelling, standard slideshow, list-view and a shoppable gallery. You will note that we achieved a stronghold on our aesthetic sensibilities while ensuring no element was left behind.

Introducing Vogue Arabia, the design that bridges east and west and empowers a generation of Arab women.

With our determination fixed on readability and maintaining the perfect Vogue standards, behold our article page design.

Our work with Runway is best understood by the following quote: “The Runway boys are at it again. Maybe we’ve been lazy. Maybe looking at Vogue US as the main inspiration from the start clouded our wild creativity. Maybe we didn’t ask ‘Why?’ enough times.” This was written for the Vogue team by our Creative Director, under the influence of a design epiphany with regard to creating the best Runway gallery in the world. Look at grid layout, our respect of the image and the intelligent placement and use of advertising space, which was an element we couldn’t ignore in this project. Designing while knowing that unpredictable advertisements needed to fit our work without destroying it was a great challenge, but we committed ourselves to overcoming any potential issue and our design is ideal for the addition of any type of advertisement.

‘Vogue Collection’ is an important page in this digital-first launch, offering an introduction into some of the key personalities and brands in the fashion world. Vogue has always been referred to as the ‘Style Bible.’ It’s our prediction that, once all functionality has been implemented by Spring 2017, our Vogue Collection will actually make Vogue the world’s Style Bible; an online resource that every other Vogue international site will follow. With thousands of entries in the database, Vogue Collection will be a game-changer. This will become the fashion Wikipedia.

Our Runway design is created upon a complex grid layout, supporting the philosophy that the ‘image is everything’ and advertising is crucial to the site.

No icon on the video play button: a small but important example at our attention to detail and motivation to change the game.

Very fashion.

Fiona, International Art Director - Conde Nast

Now for a closer look into the intricacies of our design. No detail was overlooked.

Inverting the colour-scheme helped us create an exclusive men’s section on the site.

We were alive with a schedule that would have killed some creatives, a period that pushed us both socially and professionally. But there was always more refining to do, no time to dwell on our efforts.

Alexander Engzell

Mobile users account for a huge proportion of visitors. Our responsive design ensures complete satisfaction.

Bonne Marque: you guys are rockstars. Your efforts over the past several days have been nothing short of heroic, and the entire world is applauding what you’ve built.

Shashi, CEO - Vogue Arabia

Takeaway

The dynamic nature of this project meant travelling across the world to meet and greet while creating. We designed in Sweden, Bulgaria, England (Manchester and London), Amsterdam and Dubai. This brought about its own challenges, though mainly personal and fatigue-related. It was a great pleasure to meet Conde Nast’s President of New Business, Editor in Chief and many other key members of Vogue in person, and a privilege to work in Conde Nast’s British headquarters and the brand new Vogue Arabia office in Dubai.

Our design encapsulates everything Vogue. The images on our Vogue site are bigger than the other international versions; the typography is clean and the entire site minimal; and we’re pushing the envelope with Vogue’s first digital-first launch.

This enormity of our task and the significance of a successful launch were factors that stood like huge monoliths for the entire project, start to finish. Every moment was amplified, carrying huge importance. Every bump in the road, harder. Every victory, celebrated. Our final run-through of the design was even applauded by members of Conde Nast & Vogue.

And just like that, we launch the twenty-second edition of Vogue for twenty-two countries across the Arab world. It’s a pivotal moment in the history of Vogue and will be remembered accordingly. Their first ever digital-first launch. With Vogue Arabia, we give this generation of Arab woman what has always been rightfully theirs. It begins now.