In a bid to appear innovative and ingenious, fashion runways have seen creations that are often termed outlandish, if not rejected as ‘unwearable’ outright. A path fashion seems to have avoided treading on, is when clothes covered most of the skin.
That however is slowly changing. Thanks to ‘modest’ fashion bloggers and online fashionistas, modest dressing has started to surface, showing itself as versatile, stylish and classy. People who opt to dress modestly do not necessarily have to forego expressing their own style, nor do they have to be labelled ‘unfashionable’.
At the Malaysia Fashion Week (MFW) 2015, a runway show showcased modestly cut ready-to-wear, corporate ensembles and evening dresses, created by over 10 designers and houses. It was aptly called Modest-yle.
Among the designers were Yogiswari Prajanti, Aini Bakker and Blancheur. Indonesian designer Prajanti is known for designing mainstream ready-to-wear clothing, at the fashion week, showcased her Gedoglicious collection, a series of modest clothes that uses Gedog ” weaved cloth from the town of Tuban in Java, Indonesia.
In creating her line, the designer said she did not abandon her personal style even in designing the jilbab. Gedoglicious saw some dresses, trousers and jackets rich in the batik motif of Gedog mixed with linen, silk-satin, jacquard and other fabrics. The ensembles were unique, stylish and trendy.”The Malaysian market for modest fashion is promising,” Prajanti said explaining why she designed the modest-style collection and participated in the show.
The Journey (Fall/Winter 2015-16) collection of Blancheur, a fashion house known for Muslimah designs, showed ensembles wearable by any woman aiming at looking classy at work, about town or in a soiree. Blancheur Creative Director E Gerard said,”We do not see our designs merely as Muslimah. We look at it as a modestly stylish way to dress.” Describing the Japanese inspired collection, which used much silk wool, he said,”It’s luxurious but an understated luxury.” He believes the market for modest fashion is huge and not confined to Muslim women. This influences their creations.”We have trendy designs because we want to open up to a bigger market.”
At the event, Islamic Fashion and Design Council (IFDC) Chairwoman Alia Khan spoke about the huge market for modest-fashion. She said,”Something wonderful is brewing here as a sub-sector of the fashion industry. Chanel remains the epitome of timeless beauty with no end in sight and that’s the kind of potential that we see in the modest fashion scene. It has its own demands for beauty, grace and elegance so the opportunity for designers is tremendous.”
Aini Bakker has been designing clothes for about 20 years, and has been creating modest-wear for about the same length of time. At the MFW 2015, she showcased urban-style ensembles that are trendy and edgy. She said,”Mulimah-fashion does not need to be confined to abaya or long dresses.”
Blogger and on-line entrepreneur, with over 20,000 YouTube and Instagram followers, Taslima Bubbles Islam described the pieces at the Modest-yle show as”amazing, very fashionable and very current.
“It’s very difficult to find couture-style gowns suited for Muslim women. Even though the clothes are modest, they are usually short sleeved or whatever… then you have to go get another product to put underneath your gown. What I’m seeing here is really amazing and we need more designers like these internationally.”
She believes that the young generation benefits the most from the current trend and visibility of modest-fashion, and not just in the sense of enjoying broader design choices. She feels that the pressure of fitting in often deters young women, especially those in Western societies, to dress modestly.
She also feels that the availability of the trendier modest-clothing can help young women to transition into someone comfortable in wearing the even-more-modest abaya.”Everyone grows. I think this about creating strong role models for the younger generation.”