Previously On View: February 28, 2020 through July 11, 2021

See exhibitions currently on view.

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.


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.


The museum gratefully acknowledges these community leaders for their input and guidance on Cooper Hewitt’s presentation of Contemporary Muslim Fashions:

Debbie Almontaser, CEO and Founder, Bridging Cultures; Rev. Chloe Breyer, Executive Director, Interfaith Center of New York; Hanadi Doleh, Program Associate for Community Partnerships, Interfaith Center of New York; Aziza Gaouda, Manager of Operations and Community Development, Islamic Center at New York University; Adi Gil, Designer and Co-founder, threeASFOUR; Jenna Hamed, Gathering All Muslim Artists; Aliyah Khabir, Founder, AZK Communications; Afraz Khan, Events and Community Director, Muppies: Muslim Urban Professionals; Alia Khan, Chairwoman, Islamic Fashion and Design Council; Aniqa Nawabs, Executive Director, Muslim Community Network; Daniel Nelson, Director, GAMA—Gathering All Muslim Artists Collective; Edwin Reyes, Designer and Founder, Fine by Edwin Reyes.

Exhibition architecture and graphic design by Isometric Studio.

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.

Arab Fashion and Identity
ARAB FASHION AND IDENTITY The Contemporary Muslim Fashions exhibition showcases the diversity of Arab and Muslim fashion styles and highlights Arab participation in the global and regional fashion industry. Join Cooper Hewitt for an engaging discussion about fashion and identity in the Arab world and diaspora, moderated by consulting exhibition curator Reina Lewis. Panelists include...
Arab Fashion and Identity
Join Cooper Hewitt for an engaging discussion about fashion and identity in the Arab world and diaspora.
Banner Image of 3 portraits and the words "Contemporary Muslim Fashions" on the left. The three portraits are, from l to r: Laura Camerlengo, Leah Vernon, and Kerim Türe.
Reshaping Modest Fashion
How can women’s fashion become truly size-inclusive? Beyond just larger clothing sizes, inclusivity addresses product quality and pricing, design functionality and fashion trends, and bodies of all shapes and sizes. Presented as a complement to Contemporary Muslim Fashions, this panel explores current dialogues about size inclusivity within the modest fashion sector from the perspectives of...
Reshaping Modest Fashion
How can women’s fashion become truly size-inclusive? Join Cooper Hewitt for a dialogue about size-inclusivity within the modest fashion sector from the perspectives of modest fashion designers, retailers, models, and social media influencers.
A view of the galleries at Cooper Hewitt showcasing Contemporary Muslim Fashions. Several garments are displayed on mannequins.
Contemporary Muslim Fashions Virtual Tour
Susan Brown, Associate Curator and Acting Head of Textiles, leads a virtual walk through of Contemporary Muslim Fashions. INTRODUCTION Contemporary Muslim Fashions explores how Muslim women are reshaping the fashion industry to be more inclusive. As designers and entrepreneurs, they have shown that clothing can be on-trend and still meet the needs of diverse wearers. As...
IMAGE: in a 3x3 grid, 7 women and one man smile at the camera. IN the middle grid the words "Voices of the Exhibition" fade on
Contemporary Muslim Fashions | Voices of the Exhibition
Some of the designers, artists, and influencers whose work is included in the exhibition share their thoughts on modest fashion, entrepreneurship, and inclusion. This video is part of the exhibition “Contemporary Muslim Fashions” on view Feb., 2020 through August, 2020 at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.
Diptych. Left: installation view of Contemporary Muslim Fashions shows three mannequins. One mannequin wears a brown tunic with red and gold decorations, camoflage scarf, giant hoop earrings, and an orange head wrap. Mannequin in center wears a dark draped jacket and matching headcovering. Right most mannequin wears brilliant red and gold Pakistani wedding dress
Q&A with Saba Ali, Stylist for Contemporary Muslim Fashions
The exhibition Contemporary Muslim Fashions examines the ascendancy of the global modest fashion industry. On view are 80 ensembles, ranging from high-performance sportswear to haute couture, that showcase how emerging and established designers are meeting the needs of stylish Muslim women. For the exhibition, the San Francisco-area image consultant Saba Ali styled the mannequins’ head...