One of the most persistent images of Muslim women is the veil, in its many forms. Whether it is hijab, niqab, or burqa, there is an assumption that Muslim women are not concerned with fashion and that they are defined by black clothing and an obsession to cover up. However, designers like Rabia Z. and the debut of Ala Dergi, a Turkish magazine dedicated to hijab fashion, defy this stereotype and demonstrate that faith can be compatible with fashion.
Rabia Z., of Emirati and Afghani origin, designs with the idea that modesty can still be stylish. Her collections feature colorful long flowing garments that are stylish but are mindful of religious tenets. Rabia’s collections have received international acclaim with shows around the world. In the United States, her clothing was featured in Miami Fashion Week in 2010 and most recently at Casa La Femme in New York.
Magazines are also catering to the niche market of Muslim women who wear hijab. This past June Ala Dergi, a fashion magazine, debuted in Turkey. The magazine, which is being compared to Vogue and Elle, focuses on Muslim women who wear the hijab, showing them in various colors and styles. The magazine’s point is that hijab can and often does reflect an individual’s personal style, while still being modest. Ala Dergi has become a big hit in Turkey.
Some Muslims contest the idea of Islamic fashion because many associate fashion with revealing clothing. However, Muslim designers like Amina Al-Jassim, a Saudi, maintain that fashion does not have to mean showing more of woman’s body but can be stylish and modest without being revealing. This attitude is more reflective of the reality of most Muslim women who do not simply wear black without any variation, but often wear different colors and styles that reflect their personalities and their faith. Rabia Z. and Ala Dergi are only two examples of a growing industry in the worldwide Muslim community that emphasizes that Muslim women who cover can be stylish.
Do you think that the hijab can be stylish? Is there such a thing as Islamic fashion? Are fashion and modesty compatible? Please share your comments below.