DKNY's Ramadan collection shows that Muslim dress means more than the burqa

No fashion faux pas here: everything in the collection is beautiful – and halal

Share

Muslim women’s clothes are once again in the spotlight, in a week where the European Court of Human Rights has upheld France’s ban on burqa and niqab. But there’s another controversy taking place around how Muslim women dress themselves, and this time, it’s DKNY’s Ramadan Summer 2014 collection, styled by two Middle Eastern women: Yada Golsharifi, fashion editor of Styles Magazine; and Tamara Al Gabbani, a fashion designer in Dubai.

The collection includes long, flowing dresses, skirts, and jumpsuits; long-sleeved shirts, coats, and even a three-quarters-length leather jacket. The result: outfits that are effortlessly chic, fresh, and elegant, and inspirational for Muslim women looking for ways to be glam and modest at the same time. 

The fact that this collection has been styled by Muslim women who are professionals in the fashion industry is a brilliant move on the part of DKNY: these women aren’t just experts in their field, but they know the context and requirements of the women the collections are aimed for. No fashion faux pas here: everything in the collection is beautiful – and halal. Arms and legs are covered, necklines refrain from plunging to JLo levels, silhouettes are draped with slips so limbs don’t show in the light. The fabrics drape around the body, encasing the curves that nature gave Middle Eastern women without making them obvious, or attempting to disguise them in bag-like abayas. They walk the fine line between cosmpolitan and conservative, luxurious and ostentatious.

But wait. There must be something wrong with wanting to spend huge amounts of money on designer clothes during Ramadan – after all, this is the month of prayer and reflection, of fasting and charity, of austerity. Isn’t it crassly materialistic to drop a thousand dollars or more on this kind of clothing, in this, the holiest of months?

Well, Ramadan may be dedicated to spiritual practice, but Muslims are raised to celebrate it, and to bring a joyous spirit to the entire month, enjoying its blessings and benefits. Yes, we’re encouraged to spend our money on feeding the poor, on donating to charities, and to concentrate on God, rather than our wardrobes. But in Muslim countries, many people buy the entire years’ clothes for themselves and for their loved ones; even this act can accrue blessings because it occurs in such a holy month.

Part of DKNY's Ramadan capsule collection In fact, come to the end of Ramadan, as Eid approaches, and one of the greatest pleasures to help pass the difficult hours of the last few fasts is to go out at night, after the fast is broken, and buy new clothes for Eid. And on Eid Day, it’s a custom to wear those new clothes as we celebrate the end of Ramadan.

For Muslims who worry about this aspect, it’s important to remember that Islam urges balance in all things: as long as one is fulfilling one’s religious obligations in Ramadan, there is no harm in buying a beautiful outfit in celebration of the month.

But isn’t it a cynical marketing gesture on the part of DKNY to use Ramadan as a way of selling clothes?  If you think that, you’ve clearly never been to Pakistan, where I live. Entire clothing lines, such as the wildly popular Junaid Jamshed men’s stores, are based on meeting Islamic guidelines and use Muslim terminology and phrases to motivate people to buy the clothes.  And it isn’t just restricted to clothes: everything is sold using religion as a motivator. There is Al-Falah (Good Works) Industries, which takes its name from the line in the Muslim call to prayer urging people to “come to good works.” There’s even a brand of household soaps and cooking oils called Sufi – after the mystical branch of Islam. 

Video: Muslims get ready for Ramadan

The only thing DKNY did wrong was to include a well-known hadith (saying of the Prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him) on the Web site: “Ramadan is the month whose beginning is mercy, whose middle is forgiveness and whose end is freedom from fire.” They edited the saying to remove the words “from fire” – which refer to hell – and did not attribute it to the Prophet. This can be corrected immediately, either by removing the quote completely or using the quote in totality and telling us who said it. If you’re going to appeal to Muslims, half-measures like these won’t work; authenticity is the key element in making concepts like these a success.

But what I like best about the DKNY Ramadan Web site is the Q&A with the two stylists that appears next to their looks. The women are asked what they like best about Ramadan (“Volunteering to aid the needy,” says Al Gabbani), what their favorite place is to eat the pre-dawn meal or break the fast in the evening (“The majlis at Mina Salam”), and what their favorite Ramadan experience is (“Being around my family at Futoor time,” says Golsharifi). What a lovely way to bring Muslim customs to mainstream attention, and to show that Muslim women can be actively involved with both career and family, blending both together in a style that belongs uniquely and distinctively to the modern Muslim woman. Now that’s a look that everyone should aspire to.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C# Developer (C#, ASP.NET Developer, SQL, MVC, WPF, Real-Time F

£40000 - £48000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C# Devel...

C# Swift Payment Developer (C#, ASP.NET, .NET, MVC, Authorize.N

£45000 - £60000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C# Swift...

Front-End Developer (JavaScript, HTML5, CSS3, C#, GUI)

£55000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Front-End Deve...

Graduate C# Developer (.NET, WPF, SQL, Agile, C++) - London

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Graduate C# De...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Would you fork out to spend time on Sting's Tuscan estate?  

Happy to pay for the privilege of picking olives? Then Sting might have a job for you...

John Walsh
Clockwise from top: Zafran Ramzan, Razwan Razaq (main picture), Adil Hussain, Umar Razaq and Mohsin Khan were sentenced for grooming teenage girls for sex in 2010.  

Nothing can make up for the trauma of Rotherham's abused young girls, but many more heads must roll

Jane Merrick
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?
Rachael Lander interview: From strung out to playing strings

From strung out to playing strings

Award-winning cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by the alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow and Ellie Goulding
The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

A big fat surprise about nutrition?

The science linking saturated fats to heart disease and other health issues has never been sound. Nina Teicholz looks at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
Emmys 2014 review: Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars

Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars?

The recent Emmy Awards are certainly glamorous, but they can't beat their movie cousins