In light of the recent rise in Islamophobia, designers and models are making history by introducing the hijab into high fashion and popular cultures spaces. These brave women are showing us that fashion has a deeper impact on society, than the usual superficiality attributed to it, by creating a platform for Islamic identity in fashion and increasing open-mindedness.
At New York Fashion Week this autumn, Anniesa Hasibuan, has got everyone talking by not only being the first Indonesian woman to showcase at the event, but also to present the first collection in which every model walking the runway was wearing a hijab. Hasibuan is one of few designers to receive a standing ovation and at a time when what Muslim women wearing is causing great debate, it’s inspiring to see her collection receive the amazing credit it was due.
The intricate, colourful, floral collection showed her creativity in bringing together Islamic traditions and concepts of modesty, Indonesian culture and modern fashion together and has been dubbed revolutionary. Of course, anything revolutionary has it opponents and some are claiming that the collection isn’t modest enough. This certainly didn’t seem to phase Hasibuan who resolutely wrote on Instagram – “Behind the success of a show there is a great team that was strong and sturdy when it was hit by dissent… And we can handle it.”
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Islamic fashion is becoming increasingly popular with retailers such as H&M releasing an ad showing a Muslim model in a hijab and Dolce & Gabbana earlier this year releasing their ‘Abaya’ collection of beautifully patterned hijabs and abayas and its making fashion more inclusive. In fact, for the last decade, MANGO, has released a collection themed for Ramadan every year and brands like Uniqlo have followed suit.
Fashion is among one of the many platforms women are using to demystify misconceptions of the Hijab and other Islamic traditions. Nadiya Hussain, previous Great British Bake Off winner, spoke out on her new show, The Chronicles of Nadiya, about wearing a hijab. “It’s not specifically because I came from a religious family, in fact, I think I came from quite the opposite,” she said. “It was something that I found myself and the first part of me finding religion, that as the first act that I actually did, it was to cover my hair. And I realised the importance and significance.”
The show was aired in close proximity to the controversial ban on the burkini in France that criminalised Muslim women’s clothing and caused outrage worldwide. Nadiya movingly added: “When something has been polarised by the media or an event, there’s a fear of ‘Oh my god, I’m wearing something that everyone’s going to look and say ‘we blame you’’ and that fear of being chastised or being criticised or being blamed for something we’re not responsible for.”
It’s not the hijab holding women back; it’s other people’s close-mindedness. Nadiya’s striking message conveys this perfectly, as does the recent innovation in fashion.
But it doesn’t end there. The list of inspiring women seems ever-growing in the fashion field and Noor Tagouri was another woman to make a revolutionary move. Tagouri is the first Muslim woman to appear in Playboy magazine wearing a hijab and squashes the idea that women who wear a hijab are oppressed or obedient as many believe.
Many have criticised Nagouri for using a platform associated with misogyny to have her voice heard but Playboy made a statement to say “Tagouri forces us to ask ourselves why we have such a hard time wrapping our minds around a young woman who consciously covers her head and won’t take no for an answer.”
By introducing the Hijab into usually unknown territory, the world is asked to treat the hijab like any other piece of clothing, and stop allowing it to cause such great controversy. A new religious space in the fashion industry has been created and this is revolutionary.
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