From Nike hijabs to couture gowns, the show explores the dissimilarity of Islamic style



Model Halima Aden wears a Melinda Looi gown mugged in the exhibition at San Francisco’s de Young museum.
Photograph: Sebastian Kim/PR

A big exhibition exploring the diverse dress codes of Muslims, and the outset of its kind dedicated to displaying Islamic culture within a approach context, is to open in September.

From the launch of Vogue Arabia to Uniqlo and Dolce & Gabbana branching into diffident fashion lines, Islamic style has become a burgeoning universal market in recent years – and a profitable one, too. Figures from Thomson Reuters predict that the global fashion spend by Muslims will reach $373bn (£288bn) by 2022.

Bring into focus on – though not limited to – clothing aimed at Muslim women, Synchronous Muslim Fashions will take over San Francisco’s de Offspring museum from 22 September, and aims to shine a shine on the evolution of Islamic style via Nike hijabs, online influencers and couture gowns.

The present opens with an exploration of modesty, incidentally a fashion buzzword of new years thanks to the increased interest of western retailers and creators. It focuses on the role of head coverings, sportswear – including Aheda Zanetti’s dialectic burkini, which in 2016 was temporarily banned from some French strands – and showing custom designs from couturiers including Oscar De La Renta and Yves Saint Laurent, designed to convenience religious considerations. These include pieces which insure heads, sleeves and cleavages are covered.

“We researched and interviewed conspirators in different areas of the globe, from the Middle East to Malaysia to Indonesia, and covenanted that there was this emergent outburst of energy and creativity on from a lot of Muslim majority countries,” said Laura Camerlengo, the associate curator of clothes and textiles for the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, and one of the organisers of the display. “As such, a lot of the focus of the exhibition is on designers from these boonies, and emerging designers”.

The show also touches on communities in Europe and the US, and high points contributions from up-and-coming British designers, such as athleisure entrepreneur Yasmin Sobeih.

“The offering shows both regional differences, but also the commonality across the planet,” added Jill D’Alessandro, a fellow organiser and curator of attire and textile arts. “In some areas we’ve done that wholly photographic representation and film. We also have a section on sexually transmitted media and art photography”.

Among the artists featured is Morocco-born, London-based pop-artist Hassan Hajjaj, who in showcasing wrote and non-black hijabs has become known for subverting typical depictions of the headwear to his work. Curators have been cautious to avoid a homogenous draw to Muslim millennials in relation to social media. Indeed mid the influencers featured are Leah Vernon, a plus-size, African-American blogger, and Hoda Katebi, an Iranian-American who do a bunks a politically-charged fashion site.

It’s hoped this showcase disposition replicate the success of some of the more recent fashion presentations. The V&A’s Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion, which ran last winter, was critically acclaimed, while earlier this year the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Gorgeous Bodies exhibition became the most popular fashion flash of all time, attracting a million customers in three months.

The demonstration space aims to act as a visual metaphor. Masterminded by Iranian-American architecture anchored Hariri and Hariri, its curved lines mimic the act of covering oneself, with a place which Camerlengo says “surrounds” visitors. In a statement, sisters and framers of the company, Gisue and Mojgan Hariri, said that they waited the exhibition would “allow a positive review and examination of a community that’s over talked about but rarely given the chance to speak and today itself”.

Indeed, this seems to be a key consideration for many confused with the show, which will run until 6 January 2019. A electing of diasporic fashion includes designs by US label Slow Plant, founded by Lebanese-born Celine Semaan who partnered with the American Lay Liberties Union to create a collection opposing Donald Trump’s ‘Muslim ban’ – silk scarves beautified with the word ‘banned’, and a bomber jacket with the US Anything else Amendment written in English and Arabic.

“We decided to mount the expo prior to our current president, but it is an important time for us to do it,” adds Camerlengo. “So tons of the artists and designers we have worked with have talked prevalent the role of fashion as an agent for positive change”.