Major Exhibition Explores the Modest Fashion Industry’s Rise

Contemporary Muslim Fashions examines how Muslim women—those who cover their heads and those who do not—have become arbiters of style within and beyond their communities. As designers and entrepreneurs, they have shown that clothing can be on-trend and still meet the needs of diverse wearers. As consumers, they have used their influence to shape global fashion markets. And as journalists, bloggers, and influencers, they have confronted a lack of representation in the mainstream fashion narrative and drawn international attention to the vitality of Muslim modest style.

Contemporary Muslim Fashions features approximately 80 ensembles drawn from established and emerging designers in high-end fashion, streetwear, sportswear, and couture, as well as about 40 photographs. Interviews and footage of designers at work in their studios introduces a new generation of designers—75% of the designers, artists, and influencers in the exhibition are Muslim women under 40 years of age—and their focus on entrepreneurship, inclusion, and sustainable and ethical practices.

Publication

As seen from above, several copies of the Contemporary Muslim Fashions exhibition book with its pages open to different spreads that showcase varying interpretations of modest fashion around the world

This dazzling exploration of contemporary Muslim modest dress, from historic styles to present-day examples, reveals the enormous range of self-expression through fashion achieved by Muslim men and women. Filled with documentary and fashion photography as well as stills from runway shows and the media, this book explores the ways Muslim style cultures are shaped by global trends and religious beliefs. From high-end couture to streetwear, this volume shows how established and diaspora regions, such as Dubai, Jakarta, London, and New York, are homes to thriving industries that create classic and cutting-edge looks. A fascinating examination of a major segment of the fashion industry, this book highlights the ingenuity and creativity of Muslim designers and wearers as they deftly navigate the fashion industry while maintaining their religious and cultural identities.

Published by The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco with Delmonico/Prestel, the volume includes essays by D’Alessandro, Camerlengo and Lewis. Additional texts by Alex Aubry, director of the Fashion Resource Center at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and editor-at-large for Harper’s Bazaar Arabia; Shiva Balaghi, cultural historian of the Middle East and writer; Carla Jones, associate professor of anthropology at the University of Colorado Boulder; Su’ad Abdul Khabeer; Deena Aljuhan Abdulaziz; Remona Aly; Sariya Cheruvallil-Contractor; and Shelina Janmohamed.

Contemporary Muslim Fashions is organized by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

The Cooper Hewitt presentation of Contemporary Muslim Fashions is made possible by support from the August Heckscher Exhibition Fund.

Additional support is provided by the Barbara and Morton Mandel Design Gallery Endowment Fund and Edward and Helen Hintz.

Funding is also provided by the Cooper Hewitt Master’s Program Fund.

A glamorous model with a medium skin tone sashays in a long scarlet red gown. Her hair is wrapped in silks in cheetah print and jewel tones.
Curator Tour + Talk: Contemporary Muslim Fashions
Join us for an exclusive tour of Contemporary Muslim Fashions on its opening day with Jill D’Alessandro, Curator in Charge of Costume and Textile Arts at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Following the tour, D’Alessandro will join in conversation with designer Carmen W. Muhammad of Al Nisa Designs, whose work is featured in...