Chas­ing fame

Emi­rati model breaks taboos to fol­low cat­walk dream

The Sun (Malaysia) - - STYLE -

ob­sta­cles in a con­ser­va­tive Mus­lim so­ci­ety where most lo­cal women cover them­selves from head to toe in black abaya robes.

“I con­sider my­self a very coura­geous girl to be in this field,” she said. “It was very dif­fi­cult for me to be­come a model, es­pe­cially as an Emi­rati.”

Ha­jsi started off mod­el­ling tra­di­tional lo­cal cos­tumes. She de­clined to give her age, but said she had to wait years for so­ci­ety to “open up a lit­tle”.

“It took around eight years for you to see me stand­ing here in front of you,” she said.

Af­ter five years of mod­el­ling lo­cal clothes, she started pre­sent­ing ra­dio and tele­vi­sion shows, which opened up op­por­tu­ni­ties to move ahead in the world of fash­ion.

‘Sac­ri­fice’ Ha­jsi’s first ap­pear­ance at a fash­ion show was ear­lier this year in France, when she mod­elled for Le­banese de­signer Ziad Nakad at Paris Fash­ion Week.

She ap­peared at Thurs­day’s open­ing of the third Arab Fash­ion Week, which takes place twice yearly.

On Sun­day she took to the cat­walk to model a long red onesleeved dress and an­other off­shoul­der black gown – both from Ai­isha Ra­madan’s SpringSum­mer 2017 col­lec­tion.

The de­signer, also Le­banese, said her var­ied and colour­ful dresses were in­spired by trips to amuse­ment parks with her two-year-old daugh­ter.

She said Ha­jsi’s fuller fig­ure made her stand out from su­per-thin fash­ion mod­els, mean­ing women could re­late to her. Ha­jsi “has a waist”, she said. “To me, this is my client. Rafeea rep­re­sents the beau­ti­ful Arab girl.” “We made her wear some­thing very sim­ple to show that the Arab girl knows how to dress in some­thing sim­ple and how it suits her.” She agreed that Arab mod­els of­ten face bar­ri­ers keep­ing them out of the fash­ion world.

“For the model to be­come in­ter­na­tional, she needs to re­veal a lot of her body and this can be un­ac­cept­able in (Arab) cul­ture,” the de­signer said.

Ha­jsi ad­mit­ted that she keeps so­ci­ety in mind when con­sid­er­ing mod­el­ling of­fers, say­ing she has turned many down be­cause of the re­veal­ing de­signs.

“There are lim­its that I al­ways con­sider,” she said.

“It’s painful. Some­times there is a dress I re­ally like and which the de­signer wants me to wear, but I can’t be­cause the de­sign is not suit­able for our so­ci­ety.”

“I sac­ri­fice in­ter­na­tional fash­ion shows that are great op­por­tu­ni­ties for me, just to be con­sid­er­ate to­wards our so­ci­ety and my fam­ily,” she said.

But she added that Arab Fash­ion Week showed Emi­rati so­ci­ety was be­com­ing more open to­wards fash­ion.

“I fought many things in my life as a model,” she said. “As you can see, I’ve reached a level where I am sat­is­fied.”

She flashed a big smile and headed off to pose for a nearby pho­tog­ra­pher. – AFP Re­laxnews

Rafeea Al-Ha­jsi.

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