Testing the DNA: Vogue Italia July Issue Spotlights Identity, Origins

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What’s in the DNA?

Posing this question, the July issue of Vogue Italia aims to cast a light on the meanings of identity, heritage and family origins in today’s multicultural world.

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“Why did we choose DNA [as the theme]? Because also for Vogue Italia, as much as for fashion labels, it’s essential to question where our genetic code stands: the answer is in creativity, without compromises,” said Emanuele Farneti, the title’s editor in chief.

The magazine will hit newsstands on July 4 with three different covers. Model and Instagram star Gigi Hadid, with more than 48 million followers, was lensed by Alasdair McLellan, while Karen Elson and Imaan Hammam were photographed by Harley Weir and Theo Sion, respectively.

Coinciding with the shoots, the three models underwent a DNA test to trace their origins.

“Being Arab and European makes me feel open-minded, pushing me to love any cultural background. Embracing our own origins makes us more tri-dimensional and complete human beings,” Hadid says in an interview with the magazine. The DNA test revealed Hadid has 21.5 percent of Italian genes and the model noted her real name, Jelena, was inspired by that of an Italian girl her pregnant mother met in Capri.

According to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, more than 26 million U.S. residents have addressed DNA mapping institutes in the country for medical purposes and to trace their origins. The number is set to reach 100 million by 2020.

Taking the DNA test directly on set, Elson, who has appeared on the cover of Vogue Italia 19 times, discovered her genes are 99.9 percent European, while Hammam, born to an Egyptian father and Moroccan mother, hails from Western Asia and North Africa, according to the examination. “I’m only 22 [and] knowing where I come from will help me understand who I am,” the model told Vogue Italia, adding “Islam taught me that regardless the blood, we’re all sons of the world.”

Marking the debut issue under the creative direction of Ferdinando Verderi, who as reported succeeded Giovanni Bianco in the role last April, the July issue of Vogue Italia will also implement for the printed glossy a new layout inspired by digital devices.

“Ferdinando Verderi’s creative direction brings a cohesive vision of all the magazine’s ingredients: photography, graphics and writing. DNA, the subject selected for [his] first issue, is a testament to that and it comes to life in the cover’s shootings, through interviews and texts, as well as digital content,” Farneti underscored.

For instance, addressing the DNA topic from a broader perspective, the issue includes an extensive interview with model Nathan Westling, who shares his memories as a transgender kid with New York-based writer Christopher Bollen.

In addition, as new media are influencing the way luxury players recount their heritage and how the audience perceives it, American writer Bret Easton Ellis penned his musings for the magazine.

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