Thursday, April 26, 2007

France: Fusion Muslim Chic?

By Alexandra Steigrad/Reuters

PARIS/ROTTERDAM (Reuters) - Clad in skinny jeans, wrap dresses and carefully sculpted headscarves, a generation of young Muslim women is making its mark on Europe’s urban street culture, and influencing mainstream fashion.

The daughters of migrants to Europe from Turkey or the Maghreb, these girls say they are as conscious of style as of Islamic dress codes–and want to fuse contemporary chic with elements of their religious and ethnic background.

“H&M and all the French stores have taken our fashion,” said Mahika, a 24-year-old from Paris. She sees Muslim influences in the current trend of wearing dresses over jeans, and layering sweaters and tops.

Shopping for clothes has become simpler, she said: young Muslim women are now able to dress entirely from mainstream outlets if they choose.

Many of her peers agree, although a Hennes & Mauritz spokeswoman said Muslim fashion has not specifically inspired their collections.

“I find it very easy to dress. You find all kinds of things in town. It is about combinations and it has got easier since you see the influence of our fashion in general fashion,” said 20-year-old Bushra Sayed, a student from Rotterdam.

“I am a Muslim but I am also a person who is interested in fashion and I want to combine all these things,” she adds.

Bushra wears a dark brown scarf wrapped tightly around her head and neck, a dark blue shirt, a figure-hugging grey tweed waistcoat and matching knee-length skirt over jeans.

Bushra’s look is a world away from the black voluminous robes and long scarves worn by more traditional Muslim women, which completely hide the contours of the body.

“For me it is important to cover my body, except the hands, feet and face. And within that I can wear whatever I want, but it should not be too tight and short,” she said.

“My mother, friends, and relatives are very enthusiastic and I did not have to fight at all for my own style.”

Bushra is among five women to put together MSLM, a new glossy fashion magazine in Dutch, French and English, aimed at style-conscious young Muslims offering tips, for example on new ways of covering the hair — with baseball caps, hoods or chunky knitted scarves.

The title of the English, Dutch and French language magazine–which the women call a “zero issue” or one-off for now–is a play on the Dutch word for female Muslim, Moslima, and the clothing sizes medium-small-large-medium.

“An increasing group of young women is exploring the boundaries of being veiled and seductive… they compensate the veil with figure-hugging apparel, expressive make-up and higher heels,” Dutch stylist Isis Vandrager told the magazine.

The women have also organized a fashion exhibition in Rotterdam alongside the magazine, displaying outfits made by Dutch designers with Islamic dress codes in mind.

One dummy in the exhibition wears a black halter-neck dress, while its back, arms and legs are concealed by a black-lace cat suit worn beneath.

“I see Muslim girls dress in very tight-fitting clothes these days so I thought ‘why not make a cat suit?’,” smiled Dutch designer Mada van Gaans.

Also on show are jeans by Italian clothing maker Al Quds, designed specifically for Muslims, with a baggy cut and multiple pockets, making it easier to kneel for prayer and store watches, rings or other jewellery when performing ablutions.

“It’s not just Muslims who are buying our jeans now. It’s a good fashion product, first of all. That means the spectrum of our audience is growing,” brand manager Susanna Cavalli said in a telephone interview from Italy.

The women behind MSLM and the show believe European Muslim street style might even one day influence women in the Middle East — but not yet.

“There are Turkish girls here who wear these scarves which are just so out there and striking — but they don’t wear them when they go home,” said Natasa Heydra, of MSLM.

In fact, the number of young women at the clothing fair of an annual conference of French Muslims in Paris shows interest in fashion trends from the Middle East and in traditional dress is still very high.

“It’s both to help women dress according to Islam’s rules, and also to meet a demand,” said Asmaa Buhallut on the aim of the clothing show.

In France, a country which fiercely upholds its secular identity and which banned the veil in schools, there are not so many Muslim designers, she added: brands and designers from abroad use the event to reach the French Muslim public.

The array of bright colored clothing on display also gives women a source of inspiration.

“What’s trendy are bright, vibrant colors, light fabrics, and in general, ensembles, mostly pants,” said 18-year-old Nassima, of Tunisian origin.

Stallholder Ouslghozi Jkrom, selling traditional dresses and inexpensive veils, agreed.


Monday, April 23, 2007

Hijab styles I like

BBC news did a little spread of the different types of hijabs, alhamdulilaah, I found it. Check it out

Here is a website that shows you how to wrap the shayla hijab: Click here and wrap away!

This website is for the hardcore Muslim divas! Brace yourself

Some photos of hijab styles (click on the picture to enlarge it).

I found these courtesy of hijab shop. I like the fringe in the front.

ohhh, this one is nice

Here is a tucked in style I wear when I have a presentation for work or go to a conference. I think it looks elegant.

I might try this when winter rolls around again, insha'allah.

This is the Mauritanian hijab. As you can tell, they take a big piece of material and wrap it around the body and to the head. They call it a malafah. In my years of being married to a Mauritanian I've been unable to wrap it properly. I also trip over the fabric, lol. Sudanis also wear the same type of garment but they call it a "thob".

I love the way Malaysian and Thai sisters wear their hijab. I tend to wear mine like this if I have on a baggy shirt or I make the hijab bigger so it covers the breast area.

I found this pic on someone's flickr blog and thought it was absolutely beautiful, mashallah. (If this is your photo and you don't want it on your blog, please contact me and let me know).


I like the way she wrapped her hijab. did she get it to look so neat?

I will keep adding more hijab style to this post as I find them, insha'allah...

Saturday, April 21, 2007

It's all about hijabs

When I first took shadadah in the 90's there wasn't an abundance of Islamic clothing sites or any Islamic clothing stores in my city. My friends and I, who had no sewing experience, used to go to the fabric store and buy material to "make hijabs". I chuckle to myself when I think about how we'd buy hemming tape and iron down the edges, lol. During that time the only way a new, Jamerican Muslimah like myself could get a "real hijab" (i.e. one from overseas) was to rely on immigrant sisters to bring them from back home. Also, at that time hijab pins hadn't made it on the scene so a sista was constantly buying safety pins which easily snagged on the fabric (thereby ruining it.)

So, after going through some changes and not wearing hijab for many years(another story in itself), I came back to find that there were so many different varieties of hijabs. There were different fabrics, colors, shapes, and types. What's more, they were completely accessible to me. I could buy them online or I could go to a store and purchase them. With so much variety it's often very confusing to figure out where to begin or what type of hijab to purchase. Fear not sisters, I am here to give my hijab advice. And trust me, I've tried 'em all...So I dedicate this post to the newly converted sisters, the sisters who are returning to wearing hijab, or putting it on for the first time.

The most common types of hijabs are:

-The Al-Amirah Hijab or "two-piece hijabs". It basically consists of an underscarf and tube-shaped piece you pull over it. (I usually wear these for working out). Al-Amirah hijabs tend to stop just above the chest. However, there are some that are longer.

-Similar to the Al-Amirah hijab you have the Kuwaiti hijabs which combine the shawl/oblong with the al-Amirah underscarf. I own a couple of these and what I like most is how they stay put throughout the day.

-Square hijabs. This is basically a scarf that is folded into a triangle and placed on the head and then pinned under the chin. It can be wrapped several way but I prefer to wear mine like this. Not only does it cover my chest area but I like the way the fabric frames my face.

-Triangle hijab. No need to fold or wrap this one. It's already in a triangle and it is simply pinned under the chin. (I usually wrap it the same way I do the square hijab mentioned above).

-Oblong or shawl styles hijabs which are rectangular in shape but can be wrapped around the head. Some sisters are so good at wrapping these that they don't even need a mirror to put it on! I'm not one of those sisters. Though I tend to wear the square hijabs most often, when I do wear the oblong ones I find myself fixing it throughout the day. They don't stay in place all day like the square ones. Some sisters don't use any pins when they wear the oblong hijabs. This is another thing I can't do. I usally pin it under my chin, wrap it around and then secure it with a stick pin which I place on the side.

As I mentioned you have so many different types of fabrics; chiffon, cotton, georgette, polyester, rayon, satin, lyrca-cotton combos, silk etc. One of the most frustrating things for me (if you haven't guessed already) is when the hijab won't stay put all day and constantly has to be readjusted. I also don't like it when the hijab just won't "lay right". For this reason I like the georgette fabric . You really can't see it in a picture but you can certainly feel the difference in the fabric. One type of hijab that I always find myself tugging on throughout the days are the Italian satin hijabs. They're so pretty and sure to make an outfit look dressier but oh man...they slip and slide all day.

Similarly, there is much variety in terms of color. You have everything from the standard black to orange, green, ocean blue and everything in between. I'm not one of the sisters who believes in wearing only earth tones, black or white. I like colors (and most earth tones make me look sick. I stay away from beige, light olive, and certain browns.) Though I love black hijabs, for some reason people are more afraid of a Muslimah in black than in any other color. I usually won't wear a black hijab if I have a presentation, am traveling, or attending an event for work. It really freaks people out! Anyhow, apart from the colors you have hijabs with embroidery, sparkles, fringe etc.

The way I see it, just because I have to be covered doesn't mean I can't have fun with it. I like to experiment with color, texture, fabric and style. I think the best way to end this post is to leave you with some pointers I've picked up along the way. (Feel free to add any in the comments section).

-Don't use safety pins on light or delicate fabrics. Not only do they poke holes in the hijab but they can rip or snag it. I recommend using hijab pins.

-Consider different fabrics and their use for different situations. For instance, the Italian satin hijabs I mentioned above can be really hot in the summer time. I once wore one in South Florida in July. Big mistake!

-For my African-American, Caribbean, and African sisters: Don't wear cotton hijabs or cotton under scarves on a regular basis. Also, be careful with the polyester and chiffon hijabs as well. They break our hair off. Most likely the friction from the fabric will thin out your hair around the temples and sides. I learned this the hard way. I was living on Organic Roots Stimulator's Fertilizing Temple Balm. Oh, what a tragedy.

-Also, for my African-American, Caribbean, and African sisters: Wear a thin satin or silk underscarf with hijab. I went to the beauty supply store in the 'hood and bought a "lady do rag" and small satin scarves that are used for bed time. Alhamdulillah, no more breakage. (And to think, my non-Muslim hair dresser was saying I shouldn't wear hijab anymore, hmph).

-Use the shoe holders (that hang on the door) to keep your hijabs organized. I've found if I can't see a hijab then I may forget I have it. This also prevents your hijabs from taking up space in your closet.

-When I lived in Florida, the sisters and I used to have "hijab swaps". That is, we would bring the hijabs we normally don't wear (or don't like anymore) and trade them with each other. You'd be suprised at how much someone might appreciate the hijab you no longer wear.

-One trick I use is to not always wear the same hijab with a particular outfit. Apparently, people think you have on a different outfit if you switch the hijab. I thought this trick only worked on non-Muslims but it appears to work on Muslims too. I don't know how many times sisters have asked me if I had on a new outfit when I just wore a different hijab with the outfit. (BTW, I always tell them it's a different hijab not a new outfit).