Hijab inspires haute couture

French ban on the veil in public places hasn’t stopped designers from using the conservative dress as inspiration.

Ghania Mirza July 16, 2010

France may be on its way to banning the veil in public places, but that hasn’t stopped designers from using the conservative dress as inspiration.

Fashion designers worldwide are incorporating hijabs and abayas in their collections, using a vibrant colour palette that breaks away from the traditional black, blue and beige colours.

The number of designers who are producing hijabs is on the rise.

Hina Anwar is one such designer. “Style”, she says, “is the Lahori way of living”.

“Lahori women always prefer to dress up in a stylish way wherever they go. They put a lot of effort into their dress everywhere - at school, college, out shopping, wherever they go. A lot of women are choosing to cover up but in a very nice way. They want style, good cuts and good embroidery,” Anwar said.

Libas magazine’s Mehvash Amin told Express 24/7, “I saw a fashion designer catering to this (abayas) at a fashion week, and there are a number of boutiques as well in Lahore which make abayas. The only thing is that Pakistani women absolutely love dressing up and they are not happy with simple black garments. They like rhinestones, a bit of lace, colour and things like that. So I think that’s the trend for hijabwear.”

While designer labels such as Givenchy have produced abayas for couture buyers in the Gulf and the Middle East, Pakistani fashion weeks have seen an increase in designers sowing outerwear. At Fashion Pakistan Week in Karachi this April, the UAE-based designer label Rabis showed a collection with artfully wrapped headscarves and harem pants. Syed Rizwanullah featured a patchwork black-and-white burqa in his collection, which he then said, “was the perfect outfit if you’re having a bad hair day and don’t want to see anyone.”

Earlier this month, the UK’s Independent newspaper coined a term for designers who were making conservative high-street clothes - “Hijabistas” - which they called “a trendy set of up and coming Muslim fashion designers who are doing their bit to forge an indigenous British Islamic identity.” The designers interviewed by the Independent said that their designs were popular with non-Muslims as well.

With additional information by the News Desk

Published in The Express Tribune, July 16th, 2010.


Shemrez Nauman Afzal | 13 years ago | Reply @Mustafa Hanif: I live in Pakistan. The mass media tells me "this", but I don't believe them. I see it for myself. Yes, men in Pakistan ARE blowing themselves up. I can sit in Lahore Defence but hear, and almost feel, the suicide blast blow up the FIA building on Temple Road. I can hear - within a minute afterwards - the second blast in Model Town outside the secret SIA office. I didn't move from where I was, but I could hear "men blowing themselves up" along with their cars and a lot of people and things around them. Mind you, Defence and Temple Road and Model Town are pretty, pretttyyy far apart. So if that isn't men blowing themselves up, it might as well be a hallucinogenic fart. Or maybe one of us is sitting on a whoopee cushion?
Palvasha von Hassell | 13 years ago | Reply There are so many different interpretations of the Quranic injunction to women to dress modestly, ranging from covering their chests at all (it was common in those times not to do so!)which seems very likely, to hiding their faces and almost all else, which is most certainly exaggerated, that there would have to be a consensus on what is really meant by dressing "Islamically". Failing that, live and let live has to de adopted, with no-one claiming monopoly over the "right" interpretation and victimizing others. This would be a true mark of civilization. Our shalwar-kameez, of course, is entirely appropriate, and in no way less than modest, with ou without a dupatta. Those things get in the way enormously when one is doing physical work.
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