(23 Sep 2018) LEADIN:
An exhibition on female Muslim fashion has opened in San Fransisco.
It aims to show how modest clothing can still be incredibly stylish and exciting.
Modest, yes. But no less fashionable than more revealing designs.
This is the Contemporary Muslim Fashion exhibition at San Fransisco's de Young Museum and it's showcasing the very best of female Muslim style.
Around 80 ensembles from close to 60 designers are on display.
They're from all over the Muslim world: from the Middle East, to Indonesia - the home of designer Dian Pelangi.
She says the exhibition shows the "unity in diversity" of Muslim women.
"Even though we are different, but we are still connected to each other, because of our hijab," she says.
This design uses rich brocade materials, a high-end look that doesn't sacrifice modesty.
"What Muslim woman wants in clothing is modesty itself," Pelangi says.
"Right now it's quite challenging to look for some pieces that are really perfectly cover ourselves."
The head covering is among the most identifiable elements of Muslim women's dress and most likely to be portrayed as drab and restrictive to the Western eye.
But these clothes are vibrant, elegant and playful.
Jill D'Alessandro, a curator at de Young Museum, says this is what the "Muslim millennial" demands.
"You have a sector of young women, young professionals that are international, they're cosmopolitan, they're in the workforce and they are looking for a wardrobe that reflects their lifestyles," she says.
"And they are also pious. They are looking for modest dress. And so together, combined, they are supporting an industry that is both highly fashionable but also adheres to their modest dress codes."
The exhibition ranges from high-end couture to sassy streetwear.
It includes global designers who have tailored their collections to suit their Muslim clients, as well as more affordable designs and examples of how the traditional abaya has been updated for the modern world.
"One of the things we want to do with this exhibition is challenge the idea that Muslims don't do fashion," says Reina Lewis, a consulting curator and Professor of Cultural Studies, London College of Fashion.
"Many people who are not Muslim might often associate religion with the opposite of fashion. And very clearly, Muslims do fashion in all sorts of magnificent and creative ways."
And she says Muslims can also learn something about the way different countries and cultures interpret modest fashion.
The exhibition opened on Saturday and runs until January 6, 2019.
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