Muslim Fashion Exhibit Opens At De Young With Gorgeous Runway Show

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The Contemporary Muslim Fashions exhibit
The Contemporary Muslim Fashions exhibit

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer

Last week, fashion lovers and patrons of the arts came together for the opening of an exciting new exhibit at the de Young Museum. Contemporary Muslim Fashions is a stunning collection of dresses and art related to the modern Muslim women. The exhibition is open to the public now through January 9. The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco often hosts opening events to coincide with a new exhibit, but for this pioneering fashion presentation, the museum team went above and beyond the standard procedures.

Jill D'Alessandro, Laura Camerlengo and Robin Laub
Jill D’Alessandro, Laura Camerlengo and Robin Laub

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer

Jill D’Alessandro, the curator in charge of costume and textile arts, and Laura L. Camerlengo, associate curator of costume and textiles, organized the exhibit which features 53 international designers. The duo tapped Stephan Rabimov, the founder of Depesha and a local style influencer, to produce a runway show, specifically for the opening. Rabimov and stylist Farnaz Dadashi put together 12 looks from Muslim fashion designers and The Modist, a luxury e-boutique devoted to modest clothing. “The museum and I wanted to feature as many diverse designers, countries, and regions of the Muslim world. We ended up with a magic number 12,” Rabimov told Haute Living.

A modest look by Dian Pelangi
A modest look by Dian Pelangi

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer

Instead of a traditional runway, the stage was circular. Each model strutted around the circle before taking her spot on the stage. The first look was a graphic print, long-sleeved tunic with fringe pants. The crowd couldn’t help but ooh and ahh at each new look that appeared. Sumptuous fabrics, vibrant colors, and detailed embellishments brought to mind Cleopatra. Rabimov was smitten with the designs by Indonesian designer Dian Pelangi. “Her looks were striking, colorful, and absolutely unlike anything I have seen before,” he says. “This is why we opened and closed the show with her looks!”

The runway presentation
The runway presentation

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer

After the captivating presentation, the exhibit officially opened and the well-dressed group headed downstairs to wander the galleries. The show consists of 80 ensembles and 40 photographs that contextualize the items on display. Social media plays a role in the exhibit. Many fashionable Muslims have used platforms like Instagram to portray themselves accurately—something that is lacking in the mainstream press is the positive representation of this culture. The team behind the exhibit hopes that it will break boundaries and change the way people perceive Muslim women.

The exhibit
The exhibit

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer

“There is no doubt that religion plays a significant role in shaping Muslim fashions, but so do many other influences. This exhibition, as well as the fashion show, presents a view that goes above and beyond religious garb. It offers us a real glimpse into influences that shape Muslim fashion wherever they might originate: From the USA to Malaysia,” Rabimov explains. “There is a rising phenomenon I call ‘fashion diplomacy’ and this presentation and the exhibition at the de Young featuring the diverse contemporary Muslim fashions creates a positive dialogue between cultures and people.”

Barbara Brown and Allison Speer
Barbara Brown and Allison Speer

Photo Credit: Andrew Caulfield for Drew Altizer Photography

The crowd gathered at the de Young was inspired by the modest theme. Allison Speer and Barbara Brown wore long sleeved dresses as did Farah Makras and Mary Beth Shimmon. Although there wasn’t a lot of skin, there was a sense of community and excitement in the air. The exhibit was beautiful with everyone raving about the immaculate assortment of clothing and artwork. The idea of covering up never seemed so sophisticated and chic. As Rabimov puts it, “Emerging markets, especially from the Muslim world are often stereotyped. This exhibition, as well as the fashion presentation, unified the diverse Muslim cultures under one roof. It is unprecedented.”

Mary Beth Shimmon
Mary Beth Shimmon

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer

The exhibit
The exhibit

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer

Deena Aljuhani Abdulaziz
Deena Aljuhani Abdulaziz

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer

Neelam Hakeem and Marquis Mohammed
Neelam Hakeem and Marquis Mohammed

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer

Gisue Hariri, Max Hollein and Mojgan Hariri
Gisue Hariri, Max Hollein and Mojgan Hariri

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer

The stage
The stage

Photo Credit: Andrew Caulfield for Drew Altizer Photography

Vanessa Getty
Vanessa Getty

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer

Ghizlan Guenez
Ghizlan Guenez

Photo Credit: Andrew Caulfield for Drew Altizer Photography

The fashion show
The fashion show

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer

Melinda Looi
Melinda Looi

Photo Credit: Andrew Caulfield for Drew Altizer Photography

The exhibit
The exhibit

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer

The fashion show
The fashion show

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer

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