Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Muslim women: Beneath the veil

This is an interesting article (aside from the cliched title and misspelling of Muslim!). Zeynab has also written a good post about this over at Muslimah Media Watch. What do you think of it?

Muslim women are some of the most knowledgeable and fashion-forward shoppers in the world. And under that shapeless, monochrome exterior, don't be surprised to find a daring and imaginative sense of style - not to mention a miniskirt or pink hot pants.

By Sara Buys
Sunday, 29 October 2006

Amid all the recent controversy and hand-wringing over what Muslim women should and shouldn't wear in this country, I found myself wondering - perhaps in my capacity as a fashion editor, but mainly just as a woman - if there wasn't a more interesting question worth asking about Muslim women and their clothes. There is a tendency, in the Western world, to assume that if a Muslim woman is observant of her faith - and covering her body, with varying degrees of extremism, is symbolic of that observance - that she is automatically excluded from being fashionable; she is, in some way, "outside" of fashion. There is also is a tendency to lump traditional Muslim dress into one dull generic pile of black cloth and to assume that one size fits all.

But any time I have been in one of London's most immediately identifiable Muslim areas - Edgware Road at night; Brick Lane on Sundays; the Serpentine during the summer months - it starts to become clear that there is a whole other fashion lexicon at play among modern Muslim women. Sometimes it's in the eyes, other times it's in the tie of the robe or the texture of the cloth; and while those subtle nuances might not initially mean much to most Western eyes, it's obvious that something intriguing is definitely going on beneath those veils.

A gaggle of Arab women, swathed in dark drapes and shopping for Saudi in Harvey Nichols and Harrods remains a popular "foreigner" stereotype. We brazenly stare at them, grimacing in fascination at their seemingly infinite platinum credit-card limits and insatiable appetite for gold taps. So it might come as a surprise to hear that while we've been smugly basking in our 1980s anachronisms, many parts of the Arab world - the Emirates in particular - have been establishing themselves as vital leaders in luxury retail. This, in turn, has given rise to one of the most sartorially savvy, high-fashion buying demographs in the world. Middle Eastern Muslim women aren't just prolific shoppers, now they are discerning, prolific shoppers. And, unlike most of us, they know exactly what they want.

Read the rest here.


Zeynab said...

Salaam waleykum, and thanks for the link love!

Alixianna said...

This is so true: the things Omani women wear grocery shopping.... there's usually a gown under that black abaya, even in the daytime.


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