Mod­est fash­ion in the spot­light at de­but Lon­don event

The National - News - Arts & Life - - Front Page - Anam Rizvi

Tra­di­tional Ara­bic jew­ellery com­ple­mented win­ter fab­rics, in­clud­ing velvet and silk, to cre­ate art and history at the first Lon­don Mod­est Fash­ion Week ( LMFW), hosted by the Saatchi Gallery in Lon­don at the week­end.

The spirit of the two-day event was a cel­e­bra­tion of the strength of women, as de­sign­ers, blog­gers and the com­mu­nity gath­ered to sup­port the mod­est fash­ion in­dus­try.

More than 3,000 peo­ple at­tended the event, which was or­gan­ised by Haute Elan, an on­line mod­est fash­ion com­pany.

The ses­sions on the side­lines of the run­way shows in­cluded dis­cus­sions on the rise of the Mus­lim en­tre­pre­neur, while bud­ding de­sign­ers re­ceived ad­vice on build­ing a suc­cess­ful brand. Those who have made a name for them­selves in the in­dus­try were happy to share the chal­lenges they faced and to tell their life sto­ries. With dozens of brands show­cas­ing their col­lec­tions, the sen­ti­ment among many de­sign­ers was one of in­spi­ra­tion.

Here are some of high­lights.

On the run­ways

the It ap­pears green is the colour of the mo­ment and the first run­way show of LMFW was tes­ta­ment to this.

Maslea, a Malaysian fash­ion la­bel, show­cased dresses and jump­suits in green velvet, while Um­miriaz In­ter­na­tional ( an­other Malaysian brand), sent a col­lec­tion of long dresses and flared trousers in shades of bot­tle-green down the run­way. Sara Al Madani Fash­ion De­sign, the only UAE la­bel at the event, opened the show with its sig­na­ture abayas, adorned with leather. Leenaz De­sign, a Bahraini brand, fo­cused on open, funky abayas with touches of pas­tels and white. United King­dom-based brand Lyra showed mod­est swimwear, in­clud­ing stylish full- sleeved long tops with leg­gings.

Art of Her­itage, from Saudi Ara­bia, held a solo show on Satur­day night, at­tract­ing hun­dreds to see its tra­di­tional weaves styled in mod­ern cuts and looks.

Many of the de­signs at the show were ur­ban, func­tional and fun more than fem­i­nine.

A mile­stone

Many de­sign­ers par­tic­i­pat­ing in LMFW said it was an achieve­ment to show­case mod­est fash­ion in Lon­don.

“It’s a mile­stone for us,” says Eman Al Sar­raf, who was there rep­re­sent­ing Leenaz De­sign. “We al­ways wanted to be in Lon­don. It’s a great mar­ket to be in. This is the first fash­ion week we are at­tend­ing in Europe. It will help to fa­mil­iarise peo­ple with the abayas.” Sara Al Madani watched Leenaz’s run­way show and was im­pressed by what she saw.

“It was very out-of-the-box,” she says. “It wasn’t the usual things. There was so much cre­ativ­ity, so much pas­sion and great di­ver­sity in the dif­fer­ent de­sign­ers show­cas­ing.” As mod­est fash­ion gains pop­u­lar­ity in­ter­na­tion­ally, LMFW marked a mile­stone – it was the first time many brands had the op­por­tu­nity to present their col­lec­tions on the ramp to­gether.

The trends

Mod­est fash­ion is not fun­da­men­tally so dif­fer­ent from main­stream fash­ion, “it is just more cov­ered”, ac­cord­ing to Ro­manna Bint-Abubaker, founder and chief ex­ec­u­tive of Haute Elan.

“The trends we are see­ing are a re­ally sim­i­lar replica from main­stream,” she says.

Lace and velvet were pop­u­lar fab­ric choices, as they are in main­stream fash­ion at the mo­ment.

“You can see what’s hap­pen­ing in the main­stream is hap­pen­ing here as well. I think there is a lot of cre­ativ­ity and in­no­va­tion hap­pen­ing at the fash­ion week,” says Bint-Abubaker.

An ex­am­ple of this in­no­va­tive ap­proach was a gown by Rod­diva Cou­ture that can be­come a lit­tle more re­veal­ing when worn at home, then eas­ily trans­formed into a more mod­est gar­ment for wear­ing in public.

No­table guests

As ex­pected, there were some no­table names at the event. Fash­ion blog­ger Dina Torkia made an ap­pear­ance, as did Arab tele­vi­sion per­son­al­ity Muna AbuSu­lay­man and Rabia Zar­garpur, a vet­eran mod­est fash­ion de­signer from the UAE.

Rabia Z, as she is pop­u­larly known, was keen to see how mod­est fash­ion of­fer­ings in the UAE com­pared with what was fea­tured at the event. “In Abu Dhabi and Dubai our fash­ion is mostly abayas,” she says. “We don’t have much need to wear mod­est fash­ion un­less we are trav­el­ling.

“Hav­ing an event like this in UAE is a work in progress. Turkey had an Is­tan­bul Mod­est Fash­ion Week last year and I think that was a great step for­ward.

“I think they started the big fash­ion-week event [for mod­est fash­ion] which was great be­cause they were able to bring in so many brands and blog­gers and in­flu­encers from all over.

“That kick-started things and hope­fully the mo­men­tum will con­tinue.”

The de­signer says she hopes mod­est fash­ion weeks will re­main true to the idea be­hind main­stream fash­ion events and have sea­sons twice a year.

Rabia Z says she saw too much uni­for­mity in com­plete col­lec­tions on the run­way.

“As a de­signer, I’m a vet­eran in the in­dus­try and I want to see an evolve­ment in mod­est fash­ion and more cre­ativ­ity,” she says.


Courtesy Nimz Chana

Emi­rati de­signer Sara Al Madani, left, opened Lon­don Mod­est Fash­ion Week on Satur­day with her leather-adorned abayas.

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