By: Hana Kotb

In San Francisco, California, de Young Museum of Fine Art is set to showcase a comprehensive exhibition that explores Islamic fashion for Fall 2018, titled “Contemporary Muslim Fashions”. This six-month-long show is created by the museum’s new director, Max Hollein. This will be his first major exhibit, set to start on September 22, 2018, and to end on January 6, 2019.

This show will look at garments and styles from all over the world, including interpretations of the hijab by a range of Muslim and European designers, such as Iman Aldebe, Hussein Chalayan, Mashael Alrajhi, Wadha Al Hajri, and Dolce & Gabbana. Pieces on display will range from special Eid/Ramadan kaftan collections by Oscar de la Renta to luxurious abayas by Franco-Algerian designer Faiza Bouguessa. Another part of the exhibition is set to explore streetwear and sportswear with Islamic inspirations, such as the award-winning Nike hijab and the polarizing burkini. A third section is expected to be more historical, showing examples of traditional Muslim attire from history. A fourth section is dedicated to photography and film, which will include socially charged artworks by artists such as Wesaam Al-Badry, Rania Matar, and Shirin Neshat.

Although this is the world’s first exhibition solely dedicated to Muslim fashion, this will not be the first time Islamic-inspired fashion makes an appearance at a major show in the Western world. Hijabs have made many appearances in many fashion shows, such as turbans at Marc Jacobs Spring 2018, and embellished shawls worn as hijabs dominated Jean Paul Gaultier Fall 2017 Couture. As for Fall 2018, hijabs made a number of appearances on the runways of renowned brands including Alexander Wang, Calvin Klein, Versace, Lanvin, Dior, Chanel, Gucci and Balenciaga. Meanwhile, in Paris, LVMH Prize winner Marine La Serre presented hooded bodysuits with crescent moon emblem, and the crescent moon is a motif deeply rooted in Islam.


In a press release, Hollein stated: “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.” He went on to explain that the aim of the exhibition is to challenge misconstrued stereotypes about how Muslim women define themselves through fashion, as well as to promote cross-cultural communication, understanding, and appreciation. “‘Contemporary Muslim Fashions’ is an overdue, much-needed exploration of a multifaceted topic as yet largely unexplored by museums. This exhibition stands out in our long history of outstanding fashion exhibitions and will shed light onto larger political, social, and cultural understandings and misunderstandings.”