When Faith Meets Fashion: Islamic Innovation

dian-hijab

More often than not, controversy concerning couture is focused on the fashion industry’s penchant for the provocative. From Alexander McQueen’s ‘bumster’ pants, that celebrated cleavage of a different kind, to Pam Hogg’s catwalk show at this year’s London Fashion Week, showcasing full frontal nudity, the couturiers that cause controversy consistently court the risqué and revealing.

mcqueen bumster(Image via Dazed Digital)

However, the one item of apparel that arguably attracts more consistent critique than any other, commands attention not due to the degree of flesh it flashes, but rather what it conceals in the maintenance of modesty. It is referred to as the hijab, a veil that covers the head, worn by many, but not all, Islamic women.

Black and white

(Image via The Guardian)

In the west, many misconceptions and stereotypes circulate surrounding traditional Islamic dress, particularly portraying Muslim women’s modest attire as the antonym of modernity, a mark of male oppression and anything but a la mode. However, in recent years, a flourishing community of hijab fashion bloggers has been challenging these assumptions, and exploring and celebrating what it means to be a modern Muslim woman.

Grey-and-white-hijab(Image via The Guardian)

Far from being constrained by covering up, the hijabistas (hijab + fashionista) behind the bevvy of fashion blogs, e-tailers, and YouTube styling tutorials, are showcasing their diversity and capacity for creativity, cultivating online communities and support networks and proving that faith and fashion are not mutually exclusive.

Two-pinks-hijab(Image via The Guardian)

These online resources offer up examples of the experimentation of modern Muslim women, exploring their own personal style, somewhere in between the traditional and the trend, where the hijab acts as a channel of expression, not an instrument of oppression.

Black with smile(Image via The Guardian)

In 2007, journalist Mariam Sobh established Hijab Trendz, the first blog and podcast directed at Muslim women residing in the USA. At the time, Mariam says she,

didn’t find anyone else out there that specifically blogged about Muslim women’s fashion from the perspective of … how to incorporate what was coming off runways into a look that still adhered to the Islamic requirements.

Today, Hijab Trendz is an exceedingly popular resource for contemporary, couture-conscious women, averaging around 2 million hits every month, with more than 38,000 Facebook fans.

mariamsmilepink

(Image via Mariam Sobh)

YouTube star Yaz the Spaz aka Yasmine Kanar has enjoyed similar success. Her hijab-styling tutorials are so popular they have been viewed tens to hundreds of thousands of times, and have gained her 48,000 friends on Facebook, and 24,000 followers on Instagram.

yaz the spaz(Image via Haute Hijab)

There are innumerable others, including Dian Pelangi in Cairo, half-British half-Egyptian Dina Tokio, with her own label Lazy Doll, and Canadian couture fanatic Saman.

dian hijab(Image via Dian Rainbow)

dina3(Image via Muzlim Buzz)

saman

(Image via Saman’s Makeup and Hijab Styles)

The hijabista movement has also reached our home shores, with bloggers exploring their experiences as fashion-conscious, Islamic women in Australia. Prominent names are Mya Arifin (Myaz Fashion Spot), and Delina Darusman-Gala, the founder of what is thought to be the first Australian Muslim women’s fashion blog, Muslim Street Fashion.

mya(Image via Myaz Fashion Spot)

delina(Image via Muslim Street Fashion)

The Australian Islamic community’s experimentation with style has sparked such interest that the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney is currently showcasing an exhibit examining the collision between couture and culture in an collection entitled Faith, Fashion, Fusion: Muslim Women’s Style in Australia.

delina 2(Image via Muslim Street Fashion)

Then, half the world away, there is a Brooklyn-based, half-British, half-Japanese designer and blogger with utterly enviable style, Hana Tajima, who as a convert to Islam offers interesting insight into the experience of dressing as an Islamic woman, and negotiating fashion and faith.

hana 1

hana 2

(Images via Hana Tajima)

Upon conversion to Islam at the age of 17, Tajima has admitted to initially struggling to express her personal style while simultaneously adhering to the rules of hijab,

I lost a lot of my personality through wearing the hijab at first… There was a certain idea … in my head about how a Muslim woman should look which is the black Abaya (baggy dress and scarf), but I realised that this is not true and that I could experiment with my looks, while being modest.

 hana 4

Tajima sites fellow Brit blogger Susie of Style Bubble as an aesthetic inspiration, and claims, that in balancing faith and fashion,

You have to throw out conventions, and look outside of mainstream fashion media. Those two things force you to be creative, and to find new ways of dressing.

hana 7

(Images via Hana Tajima)

Hana and the hijabistas are style experts, producing and parading meticulously studied, styled and layered outfits, created in adherence to a set of faith-based sartorial boundaries, that seem to stimulate creativity, rather than shut it down.

hana 5

(Image via Hana Tajima)

Late last year, designer extraordinaire Marc Jacobs declared,

Young girls need to learn that sexiness isn’t about being naked.

In an age of overexposure, where bare breasts on a runway barely make us blink, striking style such as that of the hijabistas, deviates from the norm, experiments with aesthetics and packs the potential to provide not only inspiration to the faithful, but also to the fashion forward.

hana 6(Image via Hana Tajima)

3 Comments

  • Reply August 26, 2013

    Lilzeon

    fascinating and deep article (thanks for sharing our interview too!)

  • Reply March 26, 2014

    Maharani Eka Putri

    Yes, I`m totally agree with Marc Jacobs. Every young girls I mean Islamic young girls who not wearing hijab doesnt worry anymore. Dian Pelangi and many other hijab blogger show us how to dress fashionable and feel beauty with hijab. Thank you.

    putri, graysatchel

  • Reply April 24, 2015

    Adiba Khan

    Very good article. Islamic clothes are now being redesigned keeping both faith and fashion in mind.

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