Muslims Breaking Barriers


What do you know about Muslim women and the hijab? Do you understand what the hijab denotes or rather represents? Do you have misconceptions about it – and believe that it is rather a piece of fabric that takes away a woman’s confidence instead of enhancing it, or it is a symbol of culture? Many questions surround the hijab and the women around the world who either choose to or are forced to wear it.  It has become quite the hot topic in the western world where Muslim women – models, bloggers and entrepreneurs – are making a mark for themselves and changing the impression of what the headgear represents. It is about time we recognized a culture that has for many years been under-represented and misunderstood.

Firstly, the hijab is more than just sophisticated or a mere simple headwear; it is a symbol of modesty, and has religious and cultural significance in the Islamic world. Let’s be honest, the fashion and beauty industry have certainly not been known for modesty or diversity until quite recently. If you haven’t been a part of what’s going on in the western world at the moment, this article will give you a mini update.

Discussing diversity in the fashion and beauty industry was non existent, until a few years ago. Women of colour, age, race, ethnicity and even human preferences and behavior were not included in campaigns and even addressed in the least. Inclusivity certainly took its time to show up. But it here to stay and is now also enveloping women of Islamic, especially those who cover their heads.

The hijab appeared on the fashion runways for the very first time in the fall of 2018 (2017). Unfortunately however, the models were not Muslim themselves, which takes away from the honest representation of the culture. This brought upon little outrage but certainly made waves of attention and spiked the rise of Muslim models in the industry to take a stand for themselves. And a stand they certainly took. Halima Aiden is the first Muslim to have landed a Nike campaign. Kadija Diawara is a stunning model for many high end fashion brands. Mariah Idrissi was featured on the cover of Teen Vogue, Elle and Marie Clare. Ikram Abdi Omar walked the London Fashion Week runway.


In order to accept these diverse advances, it must be understood that beauty comes in all ages, sizes, skin tones, genders and religious preferences. Once that’s an accepted norm, the rest is pretty simple. Anyone from anywhere can personify beauty and fashion; and that is exactly how it should be. There’s no denying negativity that is encountered every today, but it is important to soldier on in this path in order to have a positive impact and make a change. Negativity and stereotypes exist because of lack of knowledge and understanding. Therefore it is vital to create awareness of the importance of inclusivity in all aspects of fashion and beauty.

Here also lies the opportunity to educate the world about what the hijab symbolizes. It isn’t an item to be sexualized. It is a part of the Muslim faith. The women who choose to wear it often feel strong, and beautiful and confident. They take pride in their sophisticated and stylish headwear, and instead of feeling demeaned, feel rather powerful.


Stand apart from the crowd

Aden once said that we are all born to stand out; that nobody is born to blend in at an interview and this certainly rings true. Her Nike campaign is set to hit shelves this year and has paved the way of other Muslim women who are in the modeling industry, to land great fashion and beauty campaigns. The world’s first Muslim modeling agency – Underwraps, was a recent addition amongst the thousands of others that do no represent women in hijab. For its founder, the journey hasn’t been easy but hard work definitely pays off. She understands that it is important to receive attention, dismiss and break barriers and any type or kind of negative association along with it.

Amena Khan was the first hijab wearing model to have been casted in a L’Oreal hair care campaign. Now, many might raise their eyebrows at this notion or even find it ridiculous but in interviews conducted with Khan, she admitted that even though she does cover her hair when outdoors, her hair is just as important to her as someone who does not. Like everyone else, she shampoos and conditions it, nourishes it with oils and hair masks and the campaign was meant to highlight diversity as well as inclusivity even if it were someone who covered her head in public. The campaign received plenty of attention and also got the ball rolling on other brands like CoverGirl, H&M, DKNY and Dolce & Gabbana giving women in hijab the opportunity to be featured and also creating collections meant for them.  


This goes to prove that there is a definite demand in terms of fashion and beauty for the Muslim fashionista. Collections by the mentioned designers and fashion labels above included modern looks with rules of modesty, and this is just the beginning. Hama Tajima is a British Japanese blogger and now fashion designer who is redefining the hijab with her workmanship. Her stylish lifestyle and take on modest fashion has thousands of others following in on her footsteps and recreating the same in their own way.

Question is, is it a passing trend or a powerful sense of style that is here to stay? Much like inclusivity in the makeup industry, this isn’t just a trend. This is a powerful representation that is becoming more and more recognized as we speak, and also proving to be an inspiration to others around the world, including Sri Lanka. The ideology is thought provoking and opens conversations about the stigma that surrounds the hijab and hopefully will break such misconceptions in time to come.

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CFW Day 2 – 2016

 

Here are my favorites of tonight’s show; 
 

Bibi Russell
  
    
    
Samant Chauhan

Xoxo

 

CFW Emerging Designers Showcase 2016

  
My favorites from the night: 

 

Angelina Seneviratne

 

 

Azzraa Thaarick
 
 
Anushika Perera

 
Wathsala Gunasekera & Nipuni Silva
 

 

Tilini Perera
  
 
Juxtapose
 

Stay tuned tomorrow for Day 2 updates! 

Xoxo

My favourite looks from the Cannes Film Festival 2015

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I wait for the Cannes Film Festival because I find that everyone makes an added effort to dress their best at the events during this week. Whether it’s a semi-casual look or a full on glamorous attire, you’ll find that the stars dazzle. So here are snippets of my favourite red carpet looks 🙂

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rachel-weisz

emma-stone

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jessica-chastain

Katrina-Kaif-Cannes-2015-red-carpet-400x

What do you guys think of my picks?

Xoxo

HSBC Colombo Fashion Week 2015

Ramona Oshini
Ramona Oshini

The year 2015 rang in HSBC Colombo Fashion Week (CFW) for the 12th consecutive and successful year. Each year I find that the CFW team has brought in diversity in terms of the entire look and activities related to the event and also the designers. It is no easy feat to organise and pull together an event of such calibre but they do it with oomph and the right amount of determination. Each year the team is even more committed to raising the bar of fashion and fashion designing in Sri Lanka. This year was however also very much focussed on marketing the local designers’ brands and labels and also getting them retail ready.

CFW took place over the past week and in conjunction to its main events, also hosted Fashion + Food, the Design Trunk Show, multiple workshops, BrightSparks and also Music Designed.

Atsu
Atsu

I find that there are less loopholes to the whole week of events as the years go on and this is definitely a good thing. The space and atmosphere was different this year and that is because the Hilton Colombo ballroom is currently under construction. So CFW made do with the poolside that was transformed into a Fashion Village. An hour or two before the show you’d find Ajai Vir Singh (President and Founder of CFW) walking to and fro making sure everything looks the way he wants them to, Tasneem (who handled PR) making sure the seating arrangements and reserved seating is in order, Dino Corera (compeer) making corrections and notes on his list of what to say, the models looking impeccable walking around the poolside and Prasad Bidapa giving orders for them to be ready in time.

U by Upeksha
U by Upeksha

The usual delay in starting the events each night was to have been expected and also the rush in which invitees hurry in to grab a good seat. I always have a good laugh over this as ladies in their ‘socially best attire’ hustle to and fro trying to find the perfect angle in which the show can be viewed.

Day 1

I like to think that Day 1 was the best night of all three; not that they were not great but the first day really set the bar on high with a great selection of designers who showcased their work. The collection by Indeevari Yapa Abeywardena for her label INDI was based on the Silk Road folks. Traditional textiles were given an up do and transformed into modern and contemporary designs, outfits with embellishments and with a very vintage feel. Smocked mousseline, embroidered florals, heavily textured floral prints, lace, velvet trim finishes, embossed plisse and ribbon edges highlighted the girly and feminine silhouettes. Stefal by Peronie showcased for the first time this year and her collection introduced a new ancient craft technique incorporated into her designs. Being a mixed culture designer, her appreciation for rich artistry was very much apparent in her spring and summer collection which was of blues, reds and purples for the season.

Indi
Indi

Deneth showcased her designs once again this year and I find that each year she brings something similar yet different to the runway. Her designs mostly consist of the cheeththa fabric and her collection for 2015 took after the Chinese dress as a base cut, highlighted by shades of pastel blue, pink and also black. Of all the young designers, Amilani Perera showcased great growth through her collection this year. Inspired by the five-claw Vietnamese dragon, which was a symbol used only by kings at the time, her women’s wear line consisted of both structured and fluid silhouettes , new fabric embellishing techniques and luxurious silks in gold and grey silver. Onto perfecting the little white dress, Ramona Pulle certainly pulled off both flattering and form-fitting outfits that are versatile for the everyday woman. Her line ‘Exalt’ brought in designs with artisanal detail, luxurious fabrics and pieces that flatter the female form in traditional black and white colours and a touch of bright yellow, blue, pink and green. Charini Suriyage has a love for what is both traditional and modern. Her collection for CFW 2015 therefore consisted of modern-esque pieces form and flowy silhouettes and minute laser cut detail that was exquisite.

Charini Suriyage
Charini Suriyage

Straying away from his usual pastel and light hues, Dimuthu Sahabandu‘s collection was themed around “what brings us together pulls us apart” in dark shades of grey, black and a touch of white and mustard. Applying this universal concept in to his collection, garment fastenings were consisted in his designers. The collection also was a combination of his signature draping combined with structured tailoring. Completed the events of the first night was Radhika Hernandez‘s label Lois London. As a luxury kaftan line, her designs consisted of silk fabrics in bright and bold summery hues, draped into utterly feminine and timeless silhouettes.

Day 2

Dims
Dimuthu Sahabandu

 

Kicking off the second day of CFW was Ramona Oshini with her collection ‘Stained’. Inspired by the stained glass designs from Dutch era churches and chapels, she gracefully managed to incorporate it all into her collection that featured vibrant colours, batik and the arashi shibori dye technique. Each piece therefore was timeless and dominated in shades of green, red, blue, black and gold. Another designer in whom I saw a great deal of growth was Yasisurie Kiribandara. Well focussed on creating pieces that were of the highest quality and well execution, black and white dominated her designs that dwelled into the inner peace of man. The symbol of peace was not overly used but gave some of her pieces an individualistic and serene look. She made use of silk satin fabric for her collection.

Another newcomer to the CFW platform was Nelun Harasgama whose designer label ‘Ohe Island’ was a fresh and vibrant change to the second night’s showings. Her ocean inspired collection featured sarees, evening wear, pants and shirts, scarves, bags and shawls. Executed in batik and patchwork, her debut was certainly well received. Sonali Dharmawardena‘s label ‘Acushla’ closed the night with a stellar selection of evening wear, including exquisite sarees. Although she doesn’t call herself a designer, I find her clothing to be an epitome of what fashion is all about.

Arugam Bay
Arugam Bay

Day 3

As always, there are high expectations for the final night of CFW. The designer line-up seemed promising at the time. Opening the night’s events was Colombo Jewellery Stores, the ‘Unforgettable Collection’ by Akram Cassim. The collection reflects an understated sense of elegance and consisted of beautifully handcrafted earrings, bangles, bracelets and necklaces using amethysts, diamonds, emeralds, sapphires, rubies and citrines. Drawing inspiration as always from the magical East coast, Arugam Bay beachwear focussed on a more nautical and colour-block aspect of designs. The clean and fitted used of colour highlighted the laidback styles of this collection.

For this year, the FH Studio collection by Fouzul Hameed revolved around the shades of blue. Overall, the collection included semi collection that were of casual linen, smart casual and ceremonial. The designer had made use of innovative laser and digital prints to give his collection a very diverse and unique look. All garments were made using the finest of fabrics and accessories, ensuring high quality and perfection. Upeksha Hager is no stranger to CFW but I also saw a great deal of growth in her collection as well this year. Her collection had a very rustic yet clean cup look. Her seamless attention to detail and finish as always has been a prominent feature of her work, and this year was no different. She took on the task of working with both light and pastel shades as well as dark toned hues to create a very unique collection for the runway. Bringing all three shows to an end was none other than Yoland Aluwihare. Dresses, sarees and evening wear with asymmetrical elements, exotic fabrics, splashes of colour and sophisticated modern shapes highlighted her collection that was heavy on muted tones and gradually moved on to striking summer shades.

Amilani Perera
Amilani Perera

Of the handful international designers who also participated in CFW this year, Harare by Caroline Fuss and the collection by Lars Anderson certainly stood out. While Fuss’s collection consisted of woolly and thick fabrics crafted into modern and contemporary designs, Anderson’s collection featured scooped neck dresses, cropped shawls and long skirts made of the finest Japanese and Italian fabrics.

**As published in the Ceylon Today newspapers**

Colombo Fashion Week – Day 3

Here are some of the highlights from Day 3!

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Harare
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Yoland
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Bibi Russell
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Upeksha

 

Stay tuned for the more detailed posts on the three days in the coming week!

Xoxo

Colombo Fashion Week – Day 2

Here are a couple of images I captured of my favourite designers on Day 2!

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Yasisurie
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Ramona Oshini
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Ohe Island
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Sonali Dharmawardena

Stay tuned for updates on Day 3!

Xoxo