New looks for the muslim women

New York fashion label DKNY has entered new territory with the recent launch of its first Ramadan-themed collection. Available in its stores in the Middle East, it consists of conservative yet chic pieces, such as maxi dresses, long-sleeved tops and pants. The collection coincides with the debut of the label's Middle Eastern website.

The new line is styled by two Middle Eastern fashion insiders - Dubai-based designer Tamara Al Gabbani and Kuwaiti fashion editor Yalda Golsharifi, and features them wearing the items in the campaign lookbook.

Many of the modest looks are adapted from the brand's summer offerings, with similar prints and colour schemes at play. The beauty of the Ramadan collection lies in the fact that while the pieces adhere to a need for the wearer to be covered up, they fit right in with DKNY's main collection with its modern, athletic and elegant style.

There are currently no plans to sell it here.

Lasalle College of the Arts' dean of the Faculty of Design Nur Hidayah Abu Bakar thinks this is just the start of fashion brands offering more options for such religious occasions.

"I think the DKNY Ramadan Collection is the beginning of many more contemporary designs for Hari Raya," she says of the brand's savvy approach. "The modern Muslim woman would be attracted to simple designs which are versatile and can be worn on any occasion."

Ms Abu Bakar adds that in the future, Hari Raya looks from various retailers could become even more diverse, with a playful mixture of Asian, Western and Arabic styles.

The brand's non-traditional yet Muslim-inspired collection reflects a growing diversity of fashion options for those celebrating Eid or Hari Raya.

While there are still those opting for custom-made baju kurung, other younger and more fashion-conscious shoppers now like to pick up modern, off-the-rack pieces which can easily be worn after Hari Raya as well.

Public relations executive Atiqah Ali has been particularly enamoured with the new options offered by online multi-label store Zalora. The e-tailer has an annual curated Hari Raya section, with colourful and streamlined offerings from designers such as Jovian Mandagie and Melinda Looi from Malaysia. Prices range from $29.90 for a top to $219.90 for a dress.

"I like their more modern silhouettes," says the 25-year-old, who owns two designs from Zalora by Malaysian designer Rizalman Ibrahim. One, in particular, is a long dress which is more reminiscent of a kaftan than a baju kurung. A kaftan is a front-buttoned coat or overdress. Other more formal occasions also call for alternatives, she says.

"A lot of my friends wear maxi skirts and long tops to attend Malay weddings. It's easier to mix and match and there are more options."

Health-care marketing professional Aida Fadzil, 28, agrees that combining separates from high-street brands is more versatile and cost-effective. Additionally, she says, wearing less traditional options to celebrate means getting to express more individuality.

"If you buy a set at the store, you're more likely to see other people wearing the same thing," she says. "You can put together a mermaid skirt and peplum top from other places to look different and more modern."

Childcare teacher Umairah Abdullah, 24, took a similarly individual route recently. For Hari Raya last year, she paired a three-quarter- sleeved dress with lace overlay from H&M with a more traditional sarong, for a fun mix of old and new.

"Places like Zara or Mango have a lot of drape-like pieces, which make for a modern look with a traditional touch," she says, adding that these pieces lend themselves well to everyday wear.

"I got to wear the lace dress again with jeans."

This article was first published on July 18, 2014.
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