Supermodel Halima Aden was the highlight of a “modest” fashion show held in London on the weekend.
Aden, the first supermodel in a hijab who has walked the catwalk in New York and Milan fashion weeks in the head covering, has been billed as one of the top fashion finds of the year.
Seven designers from Oman, Morocco, Britain, and Indonesia showcased their collection, with an eye on the lucrative “modest” wear – fashionable clothes that cover most of the body.
“The collection that we have presented at the Modest Fashion Show is a collection of Moroccan kaftans which are in fashion, relevant to this modern age, relevant to the new trends in attendance. I worked with transparent fabrics and it was all handmade,” said Moroccan designer, Meryem Boussikouk.
A former refugee, Aden made headlines as the first hijab- and burkini-sporting contestant to take part in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant. The bold move catapulted her career to new heights involving many “firsts”, including being the first hijabi signed by a major modelling agency.
Aden said her Islamic faith was compatible with being a fashion model.
“Muslim women love fashion. If you go to the streets of Dubai, it would not be uncommon to see a Chanel bag associated with a hijab. So it’s just a matter of now incorporating Muslim women on the catwalks,” said the 20-year-old supermodel.
Aden, born in Kakuma, a United Nations refugee camp in Kenya, came to the United States at age 7 with her family, initially settling in St. Louis.
She said she hasn’t forgotten her roots.
“I always talk about my upbringing and of course, it was difficult. But now I am at a position where I am privileged enough to work with UNICEF and try to bring change to kids who have experienced some of the things that I have,” she said.
Among the guests was Mariah Idrissi who became the first model to a model for clothing brand H&M. She said models in hijab sent out a positive message about Muslims like herself.
“I think it’s so powerful because through entertainment, through fashion, these are really subtle ways of obviously promoting, not just the fashion side but people as well, so whoever has these misinterpretations of what Islam represents, if there are role models who are out there, who happen to wear hijab, it just makes things a lot easier for us,” said Idrissi.
Members of the audience also praised the show.
In the past two years, the hijab has gone mainstream with advertisers, media giants and fashion firms promoting images of the traditional headscarf in ever more ways.