Arab Fashion Week is playing a considerable role in reshaping perceptions of 21st-century
The biannual fashion weeks hosted in New York, London, Milan, and Paris have dominated the industry calendar for decades. In recent years, however, a clutch of new contenders have emerged, including Dubai, where Arab Fashion Week begins tomorrow.
The five-day event is a predictably glitzy affair, showcasing talent from the 22 countries that make up the Arab League. Plenty of emerging Western designers are also on the schedule, keen to cater to the valuable Middle Eastern client base. Above, Saudi designer Sadeem Alshehail, background, after her fashion show in Dubai last month.
Expect a broad mix of both Western-style ready-to-wear and modest clothing from the catwalk collections. As a growing global chorus of women demands attire that is in tune both with Islam and the societies around them, designers are responding with flowing printed tunics and colorful headscarves. Interestingly, designers from abroad are often the more conservative.
Modest fashion is becoming a commercial phenomenon. The global Muslim clothing market is forecast to be worth $368 billion by 2021, according to the latest Global Islamic Economy report. With its blend of trends from all over the world, Arab Fashion Week is playing a considerable role in reshaping perceptions of 21st-century Muslim female identity in ways that go far beyond the veil.