words by Adekemi Savage
During the Spring/Summer 2021 season, I began a Twitter thread showcasing looks that closely align to a hijab-wearing woman’s wardrobe, such as myself.
In November once the season ended, Halima Aden, the first Muslim hijab-wearing fashion model vocalized her leave in the fashion industry as it was incompatible with her religion. “I can only blame myself for caring more about the opportunity than what was actually at stake. I blame myself for being naive and rebellious,” Halima stated in her Instagram story. “What I do blame the industry for, is the lack of Muslim women stylists.” The latter statement fuelled me to dig deeper into how Muslim hijab-wearing models are presented in the fashion industry and my role within it.
As a Muslim hijab-wearing fashion stylist, seeing myself and others alike in these collections always comes about in my review process.
Apart from the design, tailoring, and overall cohesion in the collection; I also consider the standard conditions of the hijab. This includes covering the whole body (excluding the face and hands), opaque/thick fabric, and a loose fit that is ideally skirts/dresses that closely resemble Islamic attire (if applicable). It’s difficult to fulfil all conditions of the hijab through Western clothing so alternatives are needed. In continuation to last season, I’ve put together my top five Ready-to-Wear collections of Autumn/Winter 2021 that require little to no extra layers while remaining fashion-forward and respectful to the hijab conditions.
South Korean Central Saint Martins M.A. graduate, Goom Heo, shared her fall collection titled ‘Horror.’ With an obscure background contrasted by a vibrant red, the looks become the focal point while complemented with accent colours. The tone of the set design is timely as there’s a great deal of uncertainty weighing over us.
Heo combats this notion with lightness in the colour palettes, draped jersey fabrics, and delicate knitwear techniques. These delicacies are also incorporated in some structured silhouettes shown in a hooded coat that drapes into the sleeves and a pleated jacket–which creates a shadowed pipe-like effect. The hooded coat and draped jersey minidresses are reminiscent of the jilbab silhouette, which is another form of the hijab.
Balaclavas are being reintroduced as a staple accessory during the winter seasons. Designer Jung Wook Jun of Juun. J, highlighted extensions of this protective piece, along with a utilitarian approach, hints of femininity through the fabric choices, and elongated silhouettes in his A/W 2021 collection. Like his previous collections, he manages to execute exaggerated silhouettes that don’t overpower the body through puffer coats, parkas, billowy skirts, and strong shoulders.
The collection, titled ‘Persona,’ was presented in a short film directed by Hong Jang Hyun. The opening scene is at a bird-eye view of the depths of a staircase as an individual walks upward. The mood felt quite suspenseful, as it was shot in black and white but the short clips of flashy gold and blue hues suggest hope, considering the current times.
Simone Rocha’s garments portray modesty while presenting captivating silhouettes, perhaps due to her “homages to Elizabeth I.” This season was no different as her historical-awareness remains. The show was set in the church, St. John’s Hyde Park in London where she fused biker ballerinas and rebellious school girls into her ‘Winter Roses’ collection.
An interesting combination that was highlighted through lengthened moto-jackets cinched at the waist, voluminous knitted sweaters, with canvas-like fabrics layered over tutu skirts and lace stockings. There’s an element of a personal romance that feels familiar– it’s adorned internally yet concealed outwardly through the contrast of fabrics. I’m interested to see how this translates into her forthcoming collaboration with H&M.
Christophe Lemaire and Sarah-Linh Tran offer timeless pieces that are sophisticated, sleek, and elevated. This A/W 2021 collection was framed around heightened attention to comfort. With light knits, supple canvas fabrics, and Mongolian wool coats layered over silk and cotton sets. The collection was presented with a black background as models casually stroll, some conversing amongst each other, while others move with haste. Lemaire is practical and easy, all of which are necessary but also appreciated when it comes to being on-the-go again.
Glenn Martens of Y/Project gives a complex approach to design and craftsmanship. In his recent collection, he mixes iridescent dresses and skirts; reconstructed blazers and trench coats; and technical track jackets in collaboration with Canada Goose. A mixture that may seem chaotic on the surface to the masses but Glenn encompasses order in his design through the styling, colour palettes, and overall craftsmanship. This sentiment is more visceral in the show’s video debut, as models sporadically walk in a maze-like motion but there is order.
The brand cues similar styles of complexity through their past collections. Glenn honours experimentation and it’s evident as he typically incorporates multiple ways to wear select pieces, whether it be through snap closures or elastic drawstrings that turn into straps. This motivation to experiment is necessary for embracing longevity, versatility, and transformation in each garment for the future.
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