A look at Muslim women’s fashion exhibit at San Francisco Museum

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SHAFAQNA– Contemporary Muslim Fashions opened at San Francisco Museum on Sept. 22 with about 80 ensembles by nearly 60 designers from around the world, including the Middle East and Southeast Asia including Qatar, Turkey and Indonesia.

The first major museum exhibition of its kind, hope to spark a deeper understanding of the women who are part of the second-largest religion in the world, Daily Lives mentioned.

The exhibition examines how Muslim women have become arbiters of style within and beyond their communities, and in so doing have drawn mass media attention to contemporary Muslim life. The clothes are vibrant, elegant and playful, ranging from high-end couture to sassy streetwear.

“Conscious of including as many voices as possible because we felt it was important to give the community their own platform to discuss contemporary Muslim fashion,” notes Jill D’Alessandro, Curator in Charge of Costume and Textile Arts, who made it a point to include examples of modest dress by Muslim designers from across the world, as well as established western fashion brands such as Christian Dior, Oscar de la Renta and Peter Pilotto, harper’s bazaar Arabia reported.

Contemporary Muslim Fashions opens at a turbulent time for Muslims in the West

It opens at a turbulent time for Muslims in the West, as many countries have taken legal moves to ban Muslim women dress. In Denmark, wearing the niqab, a face veil, has been banned by the government.

“At a time when Muslim women are being increasingly targeted for using their fashion choices to assert their independence and identity, we hope that this exhibition will allow a positive review and examination of a community that’s often talked about, but rarely given the chance to speak and present itself,” said Gisue Hariri, one of two Iranian-born sisters whose architecture firm designed the galleries.

Denmark recently banned face veils in public, saying the move was critical to ensure public safety and uphold Danish, the star reported.

In the U.S., President Donald Trump issued a controversial ban on travel from several majority-Muslim countries. But the idea for the exhibition predated Trump’s election, said Jill D’Alessandro, curator in charge of costume and textile arts for the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, which includes the de Young Museum.

She said the seed was planted in 2016, when France was in an uproar over a ban on “burkini” swimsuits worn by some Muslim beachgoers. At the same time, D’Alessandro was seeing examples of chic “modest fashion” embraced by young Muslim women who wanted to express their religious piety.

The dress is shaped by local customs and global trends

As Islam is a multicultural faith, the dress of its practitioners is shaped not only by religious traditions but also by local customs and global trends. Contemporary Muslim Fashions looks at parts of the globe where designers are creating and consumers are wearing highly fashionable garments, with a specific focus on the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and diasporic communities throughout Europe and the United States, the deyoung reported.

“Fashion is at its best when it both adapts to the needs of society and reflects its social and political undercurrents,” says Jill D’Alessandro, Curator in Charge of Costume and Textile.

“There are those who believe that there is no fashion at all among Muslim women, but the opposite is true, with modern, vibrant, and extraordinary fashion scenes, particularly in many Muslim-majority countries,” Max Hollein, former Director and CEO of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco said in a statement, world bulletin reported.

It showcases different religious interpretations and cultures, including high-end fashions, such as those by Malaysia-based Blancheur; street wear, from brands like London-based Sarah Elenany; sportswear, such as the burkini; and commissioned garments from both emerging and established designers like Marchesa and Oscar De La Renta.

The museum has received a number of donations from around the world including a Christian Dior couture gown and matching abaya from Princess Deena Aljuhani Abdulaziz from Saudi Arabia, which will be displayed on the set designed by the New York–based Iranian sisters behind the architectural firm of Hariri & Hariri.

Exhibiting in the United States, and later in Europe (you’ll be able to see it in Frankfurt next spring), is key to developing understanding of the Muslim cultures and how modest dressing isn’t a trend, but a modern way of life for many.

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