Muslim Fashion Revolution?

A brief internet search highlights articles on a number of Islamic fashion festivals and shows and numerous websites selling Muslim clothing and providing fashion tips. I was particularly impressed by the stunning outfits showcased at the Islamic Fashion Festival 2009, which took place in Jakarta.

Muslim women often wear designer labels underneath their outer garments and increasingly they want to wear fashionable outerwear too. Devout need not mean drab. Fashion designers are waking up to this need for trendy Muslim clothing, and specialised stores, websites and fashion shows are springing up across the UK.

European fashion labels are beginning to embrace Muslim fashion. In June 2009 at The Saks Fifth Avenue Riyadh and Jeddah fashion show held at the George V hotel in Paris, top European fashion labels including John Galliano and Blumarine showcased models wearing couture abayas.

Designers have realised that many Muslim women are wearing designer brands, but that these garments are usually covered by a black abaya. This has led them to consider the idea of producing designer abayas, will this mark the beginning of a new fashion trend for both Muslim and non Muslim women?

The designers and retailers seem suddenly to have woken up to the fact that Muslim women are as interested in fashion as any other women, and whilst a cynic might put this down to the recognition of a very lucrative and as yet virtually uptapped market, a wider availability of fashionable Muslim clothes must surely be good for Muslim women everywhere.

It may be that Muslim women themselves, however well versed in the nuances and requirements of their religion, will be best equipped to introduce traditional garments to the world of high fashion.

The Fashion Revolution In History

Appearance is extremely important nowadays, and so is fashion. Unconsciously or not, most of the people are trying to be fashionable in the niche where they settled. Fashion tendencies are difficult to predict and in a permanent transformation, and that is why the only sure thing in fashion is change. The history of fashion showed us how fashion tendencies are born especially due to cultural icons and famous people, but also how they separate people into groups. Every season brings new tendencies, and fashion turned today into a big business. But which are the big revolutions in fashion?

Probably the first personality who changed the face of clothing and tried to impose new tendencies was Charles Frederick Worth, an Englishman who opened the first fashion house in Paris. Instead of leaving anonymous seamstresses design and create clothes after the style worn in court, he started to dictate his clients what they should wear and thus became the first fashion designer who was not just a dressmaker. Following his revolution, fashion houses began to hire artists in order to draw and sketch the designs for the garments, which made the process cheaper. This was at the end of the 19th century.

Until the 1920s and the First World War, the characteristics of clothes changed from year to year, according to influences from other cultures, like Japan or the Orient, but also to the needs of the period. Thus, clothes for women became much more casual, for they had to start working, postpone pompous events and mourn the dead from the war. The next revolution took place in the 1920s, when fashion simplified. Bouffant coiffures were replaced by short bobs, dresses with long trains by shorter pinafores, corsets were abandoned and women adopted an androgynous look, known as the “garconne” look. The most prominent fashion designer was Coco Chanel, whose elegance and style influenced the world fashion. Who doesn’t know about the little black dress?

Fashion evolved until the 1960s, when another major change took place, but during this period tendencies were quite predictable. However, what shook-up fashion during this period was the fact that more than one prevailing trend was accepted, more precisely a plethora of possibilities. This was the beginning of the Hippie era, the heyday of Teddy boys, the apparition of the mini-skirt, but also the right period for the haute-couture flamboyant designs of well-established designers. Paris was still the capital of fashion, but America was slowly winning ground, especially for the fashion of different subcultures.

The 1980s marked the end of the Hippie era in fashion, and designers focused on the seductive side of women, using new materials and cuts, which could put it in value. The 1990s are famous for the emergence of minimalism in fashion, and the 2000s are thought to be the bleakest years in fashion. No revolution seems to be possible anymore, in this era of all these possibilities. However, great designers still impose trends, bearing influences from the past and from different cultures, trends that many people try to follow.