Jakarta: From France’s burkini furore to New York Fashion Week’s first-ever show featuring a hijab as part of every look, Muslim fashion has captured Western headlines this year, as modest fashion becomes arguably more mainstream than ever in many parts of Europe and North America.
Last weekend, 19-year-old Halima Aden caught the fashion world’s attention when she became the first Miss Minnesota USA competitor to sport a hijab and a burkini during the pageant. The Somali-American teenager opted to stay covered for the competition’s swimsuit category and kept her hair under wraps for all other rounds of the event, with the support of its organizers, reported local news channel Kare 11.
This week she took to Instagram to celebrate the milestone, with a message that included the statement: “Beauty isn’t a one size fits all. We need to celebrate everyone and welcome those who are different than us.”
Aden isn’t the first woman to push this particular boundary — and it looks like the fashion industry might finally be taking note. Following the widespread outrage following some French cities’ creation of a short-lived ‘burkini ban’ this summer, 2016 has seen several proactive ‘modest fashion’ moments.
Indonesian designer Anniesa Hasibuan set the tone in September when her New York Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2017 catwalk show hit the headlines for exclusively featuring hijab-clad models, dressed elegantly in trousers, tunics and long-sleeved dresses.
Then in November, Muslim beauty blogger Nura Afia was unveiled as the star of cosmetic giant CoverGirl’s latest commercial. The YouTube sensation was recruited by the makeup brand, which has developed a reputation for championing diversity via its models and ambassadors, to front the campaign for its new ‘So Lashy! BlastPro’ mascara, which launched on November 1.
“I’m so excited to be a part of CoverGirl’s new campaign,” Afia said at the time. “It feels so surreal. Honestly, growing up and being insecure about wearing the hijab I never thought I would see Muslim women represented on such a large scale.”
The strongest message came at the very beginning of 2016, in January, when Dolce & Gabbana announced plans to launch its ‘Abaya Collection’. Aimed at clients in the Middle East, the collection featured the Italian house’s signature bold prints, alongside lace-trimmed hemlines and a dash of jewelled embellishment, ensuring that the lightweight pieces radiate glamour while remaining conservative in structure.