FASHION The latest edition of Think Fashion’s Modest Fashion Weeks took place in Riyadh, with a three-day programme on and off the catwalk. Charlotte Smith looks at the designs from all around the world
From the February 2023 issue of Lucire KSA
Modest Fashion Week is a momentous, nearly annual event, allowing designers from all over the world to come together and showcase their contributions to the modest fashion space. Riyadh is viewed as an increasing fashion hotspot, so it was fitting that this year the organizers’ three-day Modest Fashion Show was held there from December 15 to 17.
Situated at the beautiful Al-Faisaliah Hotel, the catwalk shows were all inspired by the event’s encompassing theme Roots to the Future. CEO Özlem Şahin Ertaş this approach, stating, ‘We have all the values that come from our very own roots, and it is time to be the pioneers also in the fashion industry with an inclusive, innovative and global approach. We aim to highlight the city of Riyadh as one of the fashion capitals of the world and we believe Saudi Arabia will be a great home for all modest fashion lovers.’ The event views modest fashion as a dynamic, exciting and creative space—and the collections that took the stage epitomize this.
At 4 p.m. on December 15, the first parade slot took place, with an exceptional starting line-up. It featured the local KSA brand String Story, which designs elegant dresses for Saudi women, but the rest were foreign brands with distinct focuses and styles. This set the tone for the show: although centred in Saudi Arabia, there was a diverse range of designers that spanned the globe. Two African brands were featured in this show, one being Morocco-based Lacavalierelegante. The label conceptualizes its clothes through powerful and ambitious women, while also emphasizing respect for Moroccan tradition. Nigerian brand Younass Design was also present, their expertise being in ready-to-wear fashion and tailoring. The African presence from early in the show demonstrated a key theme in the event: African and Middle Eastern Styles coming together. There was also Roassanabrand, an Italian brand that takes Italy’s refined clothing style and combines it with traditional Islam attire. US-based Nofadeen was also there, providing modest wear that aims to help Middle Eastern women feel empowered and express their beliefs.
Lacavalierelegante’s pieces embodied the energy of strong and empowered women, with long dresses and striking headwear. The stand-out feature was the bejewelled facial accessories which wielded this sense of power and demonstrated the blending of Arabic and African cultures. Younass also featured this face jewellery but, clothing-wise, focused more on beautiful ready-to-wear pieces in intricate patterns, with a generous dash of gold. Rossanabrand was heavy in deep golds and purples which expressed a sense of regality. With much shimmer, ruffles and shine, it represented Italian luxury, but simultaneously characteristics of traditional Islam style were pronounced through its modest approach and often partial face covering. Nofa Deen, although being US-based, also brought forward the Middle Eastern tradition. Long dresses paired with hijabs in a variety of patterns and colours were the predominant look of the collection.
Two hours later, the second parade began, featuring five more unique brands. This included designer Sara Rayess’s Foulard, the second KSA brand of the event that produces beautiful and modest accessories, and Lara Ali, a designer from UAE who prides herself on honouring tradition while keeping up with the ever-changing trends in women’s fashion. Hijab Boutique, another African Brand, this time from Egypt, also took the stage—and focuses on providing a diverse range of quality modest wear products. Limonette, a Turkish luxury jewellery brand, also made an appearance. Southeast Asia was represented at this parade, too, through the Malaysian brand Innersejuk. Renowned for their leisurewear aimed at Muslim women, they have a reputation as producing the most advanced hijab for this purpose.
Lara Ali was a stand-out performance, and her collection bought to the forefront two-piece sets consisting of tunic-style tops and pants. Khaki, olive and rust were the dominating colours placed alongside traditional details. Innersejuk brought a point of difference to the catwalk, with an abundance of dark shades and neutral colours. The hijabs were simple but practical, showcasing what this brand does best. Limonette used predominantly black or silver materials as an ode to the superstar—the jewellery. Earrings, bangles and necklaces all featured an extraordinary level of detail and featured both clear and coloured diamonds.
On top of the parades, the Riyadh Modest Fashion Show also contained a series of exclusive shows on both days, where certain brands showcased a special capsule collection. The first was an exquisite line from the Palestine brand Sawsan Design. As a label, they gain their inspiration from traditional Arabic dresses but also are interested in keeping up with the times—holding the values of sophistication, art, integrity, and distinctiveness high. This line had a fabulous palette—from bright pinks to deep greens, and accents of gold and red throughout. A star look was the glamorous black dress, a look perfected by a soft black hat and lavish silver necklace (shown as the header image).
Miha also made an exclusive appearance on the first day. Founded in İstanbul, Miha is a versatile brand that has become hugely successful in carrying out an exciting vision for women’s fashion. They look to combine ‘signature touches with floral fabrics’, which we saw coming through in the show. With flowery detailing in lilac and white, the collection was feminine and modest in every way.
Talabaya is a Czech brand that also had a capsule collection present. Based in Prague, they preach versatility above all else and describe themselves as a story of various cultural backgrounds and embody female uniqueness. Head designer Mirka Talavašková uses the image of the ideal woman to drive her pieces—someone who is bold, ambitious, creative, free and anything she wants to be. This was reflected in her RMFS collection, with models and clothes that commanded attention on the runway. A trench coat of dazzling blue and gold flowers was a standout piece.
Marina Turkey’s capsule collection bought fresh and exciting looks. Hijabs and long dresses were seen in interesting prints and stripes. Hues of warm pink, orange and yellow shone through. The collection even offered a discreet swimsuit. Alongside the sunhats, caps and funky sunglasses, we were given a vision of thriving modest fashion in summer.
Kayane Mahrejian’s Kaiane Designs was next, who describe their inspiration as ‘the luxury nomad’. A label born in Riyadh, the brand is driven by sustainability, luxury, journey and purpose. Their part in the slow fashion movement is commendable and they aim to balance this with luxury, viewing fashion as an art piece and attending to all the finer details. From outerwear to resort wear, they cover a diverse range of seasons and styles and this exclusive show embodies this versatility. With sweeping long dresses and light colours, a sense of simplicity and freedom is bought to the forefront.
The 4 p.m. show on the second day of Parade Shows included brands from Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Daska is a UK brand that noticed that there was a market for modest clothing that was stylish and of decent quality. They attribute this to the way women who like to dress modestly are seen as inferior in the industry, with a lack of decent brands who are dedicated to creating clothes for these women. This collection is spectacular—clearly filling this gap with stylish modest pieces. A standout dress was an elegant patchwork of white, orange and blue. Soumaya Beaudin is another European brand, this time from France, which featured in this slot and produces beautiful modest wear. Their collection was heavy in white dresses: one with a purple hijab, and the other accompanied by a white veil-like headdress and bejewelled crown.
Sudanese Eiman Design is a brand focused on communicating how modesty can also be synonymous with fashionable. They play around with features like shoulder spikes, huge sleeves, and flower and bow imagery, exemplifying how modest fashion can be fun. Chartreuse, brown and red are utilised, creating a sophisticated and interesting collection. Kosovo-based MTM Design also took the runway in this slot and standing out were their incredible modest dresses with glitter, sequinned and feathered accents. The colour combinations were fresh but complementary—blues against blacks, and soft greens against pinks.
It came to the final parade show of the event, and the last five brands did not fall short of excellence. There were two ksa brands featured in the final line-up. Kaafmeem, which focuses on creating beautiful hijabs and modest accessories, and Blooming, which has a specific focus on loungewear, sleepwear and lingerie for Saudi women. They put empowerment and comfort at the forefront. Lara Active also features, and like its counterpart, Lara Ali creates stylish modest clothing but has a more specific focus on activewear. This parade also featured the event’s first Indonesian brand, Hijaberlin. Turkish modest fashion label Imannoor was also present, a brand which looks to honour Islamic culture through their beautiful modest wear, particularly scarves.
Imannoor’s catwalk experience this year was characterised by its striking and sensational use of patterns. The coordination between the hijabs and dresses gave a cohesive look, each being unique in its detailing and colour palette. Kaafmeem was also bold with colour in 2022; a deep electric blue being a common theme between different items. Dresses and pantsuits were paired with abayas in this blue and mustard, showing their expertise in modest accessories. Blooming’s collection was as the name implies: flower-focused. Yellow and white were emphasised in garlands and headdresses, consisting of small flowers, and long flowing dresses.
Rabail Riaz took the spotlight for an unforgettable catwalk in the sixth exclusive show and first of the second day. Its prides itself in being Middle Eastern-based—with a unique approach and skilled craftsmanship. Based in Dubai, the luxury band attempts to capture Middle Eastern beauty and glamour. The brand certainly did this with standout looks including a bright yellow dress with a matching, but glittery, hijab and deep purple trousers and top set with a velvet abaya.
A special exclusive show named the Ford Fashion Experience was a collaboration between modest designer Hama Yassen and Al Jazirah Ford. The collection featured stylish and modern modest wear, women’s pantsuits in shades like deep purple and aqua. Infinitely classic, this collection provided wearable and refined pieces for a range of occasions.
Next to take the stage was Kisva, a fashion label started by Gainiken in 2010 in Almaty, Kazakhstan. They describe their goal as aiming to ‘personify obedience to the creator, to show the beauty of Islam through the reverent and dignified attitude of Muslim women to their personality, who protect their beauty like a sea pearl in a shell.’ Their exclusive show embraces this tradition but at the same time speaks to more modern developments in fashion. There is rich detailing, texture and colours which all speak to their two focuses.
Sultana R is a French modest clothing brand that describes itself as bringing together the elegance of French fashion with the principles of Muslim women. They aim to embrace the foundations of Islam, yet still be stylish and modern. This exclusive show brings a collection that screams summer and brightness. The yellows and greens make a vibrant garden and the intricate floral detailing extends this imagery, a creative approach to discreet clothing.
HK Designs had the final exclusive show, and is a women’s fashion brand based in Egypt, producing fun and colourful modest wear. Their collection puts pink at the forefront, in their long dresses and headdresses. A standout look was a flowing, collage-like, abaya—blue and pink and animal print. A unique piece for a brand that prides itself on standing out. Another dress is all pink except for glittery silver detailing on the top half which matches the jewels on the model’s forehead.
A wide array of designers from all over the world showcased their pieces over these two days. Together, they are a testament to modest fashion and make clear it is an area that is ever-changing and ever-important. It is exciting to think about what the 2023 show has in store! •
Charlotte Smith is a writer for Lucire.
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From the March 2023 issue of Lucire KSA
Dans le numéro du mars 2023 de Lucire KSA
Born in Riyadh
Né à Riyad
Kayane Mahrejian created her sustainable label, Kaiane Designs, when searching for a wedding dress, and now capably multitasks between designing and working as one of the engineers at NEOM. Jack Yan speaks with her
Kayane Mahrejian a créé son label durable, Kaiane Designs, lors de la recherche d’une robe de mariée, et est désormais capable d’effectuer plusieurs tâches entre la conception et le travail en tant qu’ingénieur chez NEOM. Jack Yan parle avec elle