Barrister behind new 'Vanity Fair for Asians'

Memsahib: with nine Asian celebrities on the cover

A new magazine for Asian women says it will cover Hollywood and politics in a similar style to Vanity Fair.

The 100-page bimonthly is named Memsahi – an old Indian term meaning ‘lady of the house’ – and hopes to have similar editorial scope to Vanity Fair. As well as politics, glamour, fashion and social issues for women, it is hoping to attract male readers with a 32-page bimonthly supplement called Assets.

The supplement, targeting "aspiring millionaires" will feature interviews with high-profile business tycoons such as Mohamed Al Fayed.

Backed by Elite Publications and businessman Jay Kumar, the magazine has been launched by barrister Rehna Azim, who has produced it at home while holding down a full-time job at Lincoln’s Inn, where she specialises in family law.

Azim, who has been working on the launch "between cases" for six months, said she was inspired by the lack of magazines on the market for intelligent women.

"I think there is a huge gap for a magazine like this," she told Press Gazette. "All the men’s magazines have so-called political, intelligent stuff and women’s magazines are all about sexual positions and how to ensnare a guy in 20 seconds.

"There is a huge group of women, Asian and non-Asian, with a diverse range of interests. There are men and women who are surgeons and barristers earning six-figure incomes and advertisers are ignoring them. There is nothing out there for them."

The launch issue features nine Asian female celebrities on the cover, including ITV News home affairs editor Shiulie Ghosh and media and arts correspondent Nina Nannar. All nine are wearing pink sahris which Azim is hoping to auction to raise money for breast cancer awareness.

The launch issue features a piece by Daily Express journalist Yvonne Ridley entitled "Terrorist or Freedom Fighter". There is also a light-hearted piece on "alluring" Asian women, following a recent poll in FHM magazine which listed Afghan women among the ugliest in the world.

The title has a print run of 35,000 and goes on sale later nationwide this month in retail outlets such as WH Smith, Borders, Selfridges and Harrods.

Azim is also hoping to extend the circulation overseas to Asia, the Middle East and America by the end of the year.

"Our aim is to be something like Vanity Fair," Azim added. "Vanity Fair has a really good political story and then goes straight through to Hollywood – that is the kind of style we are aspiring to."

By Ruth Addicott

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