BEYOND the HIJAB
AS the WORLD’S 1.8 BILLION-PLUS MUSLIMS WILL ATTEST, THERE IS FAR MORE to ISLAMIC DRESS THAN HEADSCARVES
IN FEBRUARY OF 2O17,athen19-year-old Halima Aden quite literally changed the face of fashion. Aden, an American-Somali teenager, and a Muslim who spent her early childhood living in a refugee camp, pounded down Kanye West’s Yeezy Season 5 catwalk. It wasn’t the clothes that caught attention, it was the fact that Aden was wearing a hijab. Two seasons later, and a wave of hijabi models have been propelled into the mainstream, appearing on the covers of glossy magazines and walking for fashion’s star labels.
Coverage has been breathlessly enthusiastic, with Aden the first hijabi model to sign to a major agency (IMG), quickly followed by Shahira Yusuf (Storm, scouted by the same agent who signed Kate Moss), and Ikram Abdi Omar (Premier). Yet it seems the projected burden of everything they represent almost eclipses the reason they were signed to begin with – that they, like the models who walk with them, are beautiful. Knockout stunning. Their religion shouldn’t be the point. But it‘s become a defining feature at a time when Islam elicits so much coverage fuelled by a limited understanding of what it really is – particularly now, against the backdrop of Trump’s blackball, anti-immigration politics.
‘We weren’t represented for ages,’ says Dina Torkia, a pioneer and breakout star of a wave of Insta-famous Muslim fashion bloggers, with over 1.4 million followers. ‘Social media allows us to have our own voice, and some
NEW MODELARMY Ikram Abdi Omar walking for Molly Goddard (right)Words by INSTA-STAR Fashion blogger Dina Torkia (below) is challenging normsNOSHEEN IQBAL
ALL HAIL HALIMA The trailblazing model at Max Mara (above)