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A new exhibition focusing on fashion within the Muslim community is on display at de Young Museum

The first major museum exhibition exploring Muslim dress codes worldwide is being displayed at the de Young Museum in San Francisco, probing the multifaceted nature of fashion within the Muslim community. Contemporary Muslim Fashions delves into the long-standing history, spotlighting the socio-political understandings and misunderstandings of how fashion has refocused the voices of Muslim women to voice to both reflect and adapt to modern society.

Photography by Joanna Garcia Cheran Image courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

A subject still largely unexplored by most, the exhibition taps into an enduring history, which responds to the individual and religious interpretations of modesty. The exhibition navigates through the principles that are shaped by both religion and culture and dynamic trends that have been influenced by style arbiters and bloggers to emerging designers, politicians, and athletes, demonstrating the many voices of the Muslim community today that is helping mould the fashion scene for women today. Commissioned garments from both emerging and established Muslim designers, with a specific focus on the Middle East, Southeast Asia, communities throughout Europe and the United States.

“There are those who believe that there is no fashion at all among Muslim women, but the opposite is true, with modern, vibrant, and extraordinary fashion scenes, particularly in many Muslim-majority countries,” said Max Hollein, former director and CEO of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

Photography by Joanna Garcia Cheran Image courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

In addition to approximately 80 garments that will be displayed, spanning high-end fashion, streetwear, sportswear, and couture, including the controversial Nike Hijab and the Burkini, the exhibition will also focus on social media, emphasising the influence of online engagement from bloggers and social media influencers who have created a space where Muslim women can feel represented, where they may be otherwise underrepresented in the mainstream media. Showcasing leaders such as Hoda Katebi, Leah Vernon, and Dian Pelangi via Instagram, the exhibition will also draw attention to how style within the Muslim community is serving as a tool for larger conversations that draw attention to issues of sustainability and gender, racial, and religious inequalities.

Photography by Joanna Garcia Cheran Image courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

“Muslim women have been early adopters of each new social media application as it has arrived,” says Laura L. Camerlengo, Associate Curator of Costume and Textile Arts. “For many modest dressers, fashion serves not only as a medium to share their personal style but also for discussions about contemporary religious concerns and social injustices and as a tool for positive social change.”

Ensembles by FIZIWOO, Melinda Looi and Bernard Chandran. Photography by Joanna Garcia Cheran Image courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

Tickets for Contemporary Muslim Fashions can be purchased on de Young Museum, located in Golden Gate Park, 22 September 2018 and runs until 6 January 2019.

About the author

Contributing fashion writer for Style Cartel

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