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.

Featured Image: Melinda Looi (b. 1973, Malaysia) for Melinda Looi (est. 2000, Malaysia); Ensemble (dress, turban, earrings, rings, and shoes); Sunset in Africa Collection, 2012; Tie-dyed silk chiffon with feathers, semi-precious stones, and Swarovski crystals, silk satin lining; Photograph by Sebastian Kim