Letter From the Editor: Full Circle

I first met and interviewed our cover star Yara Shahidi at CHANEL’s Spring/Summer 2018 Haute Couture presentation in Paris.

Aside from being in a bit of daze from witnessing one of the most extraordinary shows—it would be one of Karl Lagerfeld’s last Haute Couture collections—I was quite touched by my conversation with the Black-ish star.

While Shahidi was shy of 18 at the time of our meeting, she had what many would describe as an old soul. Incredibly knowledgeable and poised, our short discussion covered fashion, her love of James Baldwin, and how she uses her platform as a tool for social justice, awareness, and advocacy for inclusivity.

And to add to an already rich exchange, upon learning of my Iranian heritage—my name usually gives it away—unprompted, she spoke fluent Farsi with me, which made me tear up after the fact, taking me completely by surprise. (In addition to being Nas’s cousin—one of my personal heroes—Shahidi’s father is Iranian-born visual artist and filmmaker Afshin Shahidi, who was Prince’s go-to photographer.)

Between being a highly-sought after ambassador and face for brands such as Dior, Cartier, and now Jean Paul Gaultier, as well as leading film and TV projects such as Grown-ish and the Amazon Prime’s Sitting in Bars with Cake, Shahidi also graduated with a BA from Harvard’s Social Studies and African-American departments.

Having her grace our latest fall issue is a bit of a full circle moment, as I saw in her a glimpse of a role-model in the making, one I wish I’d had when I was her age. And she’s stepped into those shoes so eloquently, just like she did in all the fashion she generously donned for our cover shoot.

Feature Image: Photography by Ted Belton.