Talented Muslim Designers: Hijabs and Abayas Take Centre Stage at NYFW


Designers and models walk the runway during the Indonesian Diversity fashion show during New York Fashion Week

Indonesian designers Dian Pelangi and Vivi Zubedi push barriers at the “Indonesian Diversity” event by featuring stunning abayas and hijabs.

Diversity is the definitive buzzword at New York Fashion Week (NYFW), where some of the world’s best designers are presenting their spring/summer 2018 collections. You can’t help but notice the amount of models with different coloured skins and body types. Plus, there’s the evidence the modest fashion industry seems to be rising steadily, with more and more backing of Muslim representation through style. 

In fact, five up-and-coming Indonesian designers helped kick things off at an event called “Indonesian Diversity,” which took place on the first day of the increasingly diverse fashion week. The event in Chelsea, which has hopefully helped to challenge stereotypes and prejudices in the West, was a colourful and vibrant show of Muslim styles, with the designers earning praise for their sophisticated modest fashion collections aimed at the well-heeled, cosmopolitan Muslim woman. 

Two of these gifted designers, Dian Pelangi and Vivi Zubedi, focused specifically on the attractiveness of the hijab and abaya while encapsulating modern-day Islamic fashion.


Designer Dian Pelangi in New York

Dian Pelangi
Dian Pelangi’s elegant collection was chock-full of bright Indonesian materials. Whether it was on the long skirts, palazzo trousers or loose-fitting jackets, the 26-year-old designer favoured Batik prints and tie-dye. In fact, Pelangi, who has Princess Basma Bint Talal of Jordan and Princess Nadja of Hanover, Germany on her clientele list, is known for her colourful palettes and unwavering loyalty towards traditional Indonesian techniques like tie-dye, Songket and Batik. Rich brocade, that beautiful, heavy fabric interwoven with an ornate, raised design, was another chief sartorial choice at the Ecole Superieure des Arts et Techniques de la Mode graduate’s show. Models marched down the runway with their hair hidden by scarves, which were wrapped over and under headpieces that were an ode to medieval Europe.


A model at the Indonesian Diversity fashion show

The Jakarta-based Pelangi, who was nominated for the Creative and Innovative Person of the Year at the Indonesian Choice Awards, explained her inspiration for the collection came from best-selling book “Humans of New York.” The book written by American photographer Brandon Stanton records the diversity of the 8.5 million people who live in the city. “We’re not oppressed and we just want to show the world that we still can be beautiful and stylish with our hijab on,” Pelangi, who has 4.8 million followers on Instagram, told British daily newspaper “The Guardian.”


Vivi Zubedi

Vivi Zubedi
Vivi Zubedi made her NYFW debut with a diverse modest fashion collection. She explained she was partly motivated by challenging President Donald Trump, who has been working on restricting immigration from several Muslim majority countries. Speaking to “The Guardian,” she said: “I love the US every much and I have a lot of clients here. Hijab is beautiful, we are all still human no matter what religion you are. We are still the same.”

Zubedi’s collection was clearly conservative and featured her signature modern and fashionable loose, free-flowing abayas. On her website, Zubedi, who is based in Jakarta, describes her abayas as having “a strong ethnic element.” For this show, the 30-year-old designer sewed the words “Mekkah, Madinah and Jannah” on the back of some of her colourful gowns, with the latter meaning paradise in Arabic. Zubedi also made a statement with one of her pieces, which had the phrase ‘all colors matter” emblazoned on its back.


A model wearing a Dian Pelangi creation at the Indonesian Diversity fashion show in New York

The designer tried to integrate Arab and Indonesian cultures, combining styles from different areas like Lombok, Bali and Jepara and using woven Sasirangan fabrics. Other than the trademark black for her abayas, she used colours like electric blue and green. Some of the embroidery seen in the range is characteristic of some of her other collections.

These two shows come a year after Anniesa Hasibuan, also from Indonesia, made waves as the first designer to ever present an entire collection featuring every single model wearing a hijab.  

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