Fashion month is one of the busiest and most stressful months in the yearly calendar of the frivolous industry – for veterans of the industry, it’s the same old with presentations of collections with masses of attention and media, while for smaller and fresh faces in the industry, it can occasionally be difficult to get the foot through the door, making it all too easy to miss out on new talent revolutionising the industry.
However during NYFW, one designer had taken the industry, critics and fans by storm by becoming the first Muslim designer to have an all hijab-incorporated collection inspired by her hometown of Jakarta. With 48 beautiful and ethereal looks donning the runway for media, fans and insiders to see, Anniesa Haisbuan created history by becoming the first Indonesian designer to show at New York, earning a standing ovation at the end.
While only one year into business, Haisbuan states that she wanted to use her designs to introduce and educate people both inside and outside of the industry to the ‘different and diverse parts of Indonesia’. Using printing techniques of ethnic mosaics and bold signature colours of gold, green and peach, Hasibuan has worked towards a vision to showcase the beauty of her country and beautifying the Muslim tradition with silhouettes and embellished pieces.
Following the policy ban of the burkini in France, this notion of the hijab being apart of the industry is a significant moment that brings progress and diversity into a once all-white and exclusive industry. Amidst the anti-Muslim rhetoric of socio-political conditions, Hasibuan has described her collection as a way to show the world that there is no slowing down. Previously, I had written about how Cannes Mayor David Lisnard claimed that the burqa-swimpieces were “the symbol of Islamic extremism.” He’s also stated that since France is currently the target of many terrorist attacks, beachwear that displays religious affiliation is liable in creating public doubt and disorder. Haisbuan's revolutionising collection is a massive step in the industry for less secularism within and outside - this defies consumerism and delves deeper into acceptance and understanding of culture and a changing norm within society.
While bigger names such as H&M and Dolce & Gabbana have run down the same line with hijab-incorporated campaigns through the lenses of Casuasian creative heads, Hasibuan has shown that the power and voice of the industry expresses identity and value, as well as break down the misconception and stereotypes that tend to sit with those who choose to adorn the hijab for their faith. As the hijab is introduced more into mainstream Western culture through the means of the industry, one can only hope that it will become less of a foreign piece of clothing and replaced with cultural awareness and understanding.
At a time where what a Muslim woman chooses to wear is causing much unnecessary debate, Hasibuan’s collection is a historic moment into diversifying the industry even more. Conclusively, while the show was able to show the beauty and functionality of the hijab, the diverse casting of models also aims to prove that the industry is moving at a gradual pace to model diversity and racism.