Women's Tunic Tops Featured At Malaysian International Fashion Week

Poplar Designers Reinvent Islamic Tunic Tops And Abayas

The perception of Muslims in the media often resonates with stereotypical images which (sometimes unintentionally) tend to gloss over many of the culturally rich and creatively diverse aspects of Islamic life all over the world. In a list of words commonly associated with the western media’s portrayal of Islam, “fashion” is not likely to appear; yet every year in Kuala Lumpur, the bustling capital of Malaysia, the Muslim Fashion Festival at the Malaysian International Fashion Week makes local headlines, highlighting style, grace, and a kind of elegant beauty that is unique to modest Muslim clothing.

This year’s festival played host to noted fashion designers Sohail Abbasi, Feny Mustafa, and Rukhsana Marian, among many others, who reaffirmed their commitment to fashionable religious self-expression with impressive collections of women's tunic tops, hijabs, abayas, and other traditional clothing presented in unexpectedly stunning designs. As pioneers in the world of Muslim fashion, the designers featured at the Muslim Fashion Festival showed creative interpretations of classic garments, reinventing Islamic tunic tops and abayas in vibrant, colorful, and artistic ways that satisfy the traditions of modesty and “covering up” while still celebrating the virtues of style and individual expression.

Many westerners lack exposure to the intricate blends of cultural style found throughout the Muslim communities of the world, and probably would be surprised to see that Islamic fashion can incorporate an uncanny, nearly organic fusion of purpose and beauty that expresses the essence of a religious belief while also fitting the needs of modern people. Unlike the bland, one-note Islamic clothing that is often portrayed in the popular media, the strikingly beautiful abayas and women’s tunic tops featured at the festival spoke to the rich traditions of Islamic art and design. These new designs are not tighter fitting and do not reveal or accentuate the body, yet they are flattering to the wearer, and seem to express a sense of beauty that is intended to be spiritual rather than sexual.

Raja Rezza Shah, the festival’s 48-year-old chairman and founder, created the event in 2006, with hoped of making Islamic fashion more mainstream. Over the last three years, the festival has shown the work of over 200 designers from all over the world, half of whom are not themselves Muslims.

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