Modest fashion has come a long way since Mariah Idrissi was growing up, mentally tailoring and layering the outfits she saw on the catwalk to suit her needs. Speaking to Grazia at London Modest Fashion Week – billed by the organisers as a “two-day celebration of style and global cultures featuring runway shows, presentations, exhibitions, talks, shopping and inspiration” that coincided with LFW – she reveals, “Before modest fashion had been officially labelled a thing, I would simply make do with whatever could cover me up from the high street. Fortunately, today I’m spoilt for choice, whether my wardrobe is filled with pieces from modest or mainstream brands. Among those that entirely failed to cater to my needs in the past are now some of my go-to fashion houses.”
In fact, the industry’s evolved to such an extent that modesty’s very own answer to Fashion Week has gone global. Mariah says, “With social media as a platform driving forward modest designers, bloggers and now hijab-wearing models, the impact has burst out of its bubble. Modest Fashion Week has taken place in Istanbul, London and Dubai, showcasing designers that all share the same message that ‘Modesty is always on trend.’”
Among the names on the London Modest Fashion Week catwalk were Saudi Arabian designer Nasiba Hafiz, Dubai’s very own Tamara Al Gabbani and Mariah’s personal favourites, the newly launched casual modest fashion brand Till We Cover.
“That being said, I do question whether that the rise of modest dress in the West is it’s simply a coincidence or a trend?” she argues. “Whether it’s simply the demand for more diversity in the fashion industry, with Muslims being part of the movement, or whether the influence has come from the modest fashion industry and infiltrated the Western market.”
Looking at the head wraps, long sleeves and loose fits at Marc Jacobs SS18 show, and the return of ’90s supermodel Christy Turlington wearing what could pass as a hijab for the Versace SS18 campaign shot by Steven Meisel, Mariah certainly has a point. “I personally feel it’s a combination, as well as fashion houses recognising it’s very financially rewarding to be involved in this market.”
With the AW18 shows in progress, Marc Jacobs and Versace have continued their commitment to covering up, showing that modesty has well and truly become mainstream. But for how long? Mariah acknowledges, “Trends change, and although modesty has been in and out of fashion, I predict this wave is something that many of us will continue to ride. A hijab for Muslim women is religious symbolism, it’s something we’ll always adhere to, but now the rest of the world’s wised-up, there is certainly no going back!”
Photos: Jason Lloyd-Evans, Steven Meisel and supplied