Islamic fashion is making its mark and featuring more on the runways from as far afield as Indonesia to Dubai and even Monte Carlo. The fashion industry’s most prominent design houses are producing garments suitable for Islamic women. Designers such as Donna Karan and House of Christian Dior have already brought out collections targeting Muslim consumers worldwide.
Rouge Couture is a Dubai-based fashion line which has created some “unusual twists on the traditional abaya.” Sarah Madani is the Founder of Rouge Couture and states that their designs are created to empower women and reflect how strong Arab women are. Madani says “Our line is both traditional and religious and no matter how far we go with it, our clothes are still modest.”
Muslim designers are also making a name for themselves in the fashion industry. Monte Carlo hosted an Islamic Fashion Festival for whom the Malaysian Prime Minister’s wife, Rosmah Mansur, was a patron for. This, however, caused outrage among many politicians and students in Malaysia, who disagreed with women displaying clothing on the runway, regardless of it being Islamic fashion. The event also received “widespread criticism” on the internet.
Some of the designs on the garments fabrics had Arabic calligraphy printed on them, as did a sleeveless abaya, which received some harsh criticism too. A Malaysian parliament member commented by saying “The pride of the entire Islamic community worldwide has been tarnished by the Islamic Fashion Festival.” There were so much outcry regarding this event, that a Facebook page was even created to urge the Malaysian Prime Minister’s wife to make an apology to all Muslims.
The Founder of the Islamic Fashion Festival, Raja Rezza Shah said critics missed the whole point of the event. It was meant to bring designers from all backgrounds together to design outfits with Muslim consumers in mind, and also to show the more “gentle side of Islam to a non-Muslim audience.” He said that when it comes to fashion events such as this, there will always be non-Muslim designers who may not always create garments which are as appropriate for Muslims as they may think.
A London-based designer, Sarah Elenany, says that as a fashion designer she has always had to be sensitive to religious issues. Her brand, Elanany, includes Western urban pieces, such as long-sleeved shirts with Islamic prints on them.
Her designs are not something which everyone agrees with, though, with many feeling that one should only wear a garment reflecting Islam if it is actually a piece of clothing from the Islamic culture.
Many do not feel that traditional Islamic garments should be mixed with Western fashion. Even wearing a pair of jeans and a hijab is considered by some to have “no basis in Islam,” while a large number of Muslim women comfortably wear outfits such as this every day as views on Islamic fashion differ from person to person.