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POSTED AT 02:45 PM 17-09-2016

A fashion first: hijabs dazzle New York Fashion Week

A collection by designer Anniesa Hasibuan's presented at New York Fashion Week. [Courtesy:]

A collection by designer Anniesa Hasibuan's presented at New York Fashion Week (NYFW), is the first time every model walked the event's runway wearing a hijab. The show was also one of the firsts by an Indonesian at the prestigious annual event. At a time when what Muslim women choose to wear is causing intense debate, many are calling Hasibuan's move a historic moment in bringing the hijab out of the ‘mainstream’.

Inspired by her hometown Jakarta, Hasibuan presented trousers, flowing tunic and gowns, in luxurious fabrics and detailed embroidery, which left her audience dazzled. As a relative newcomer to the NYFW runway , 30-year-old Hasibuan received a standing ovation at the end of her show earlier this week.

With Islamic fashion making such an impact on the runway, world’s leading designer brands such as; H&M and Dolce and Gabbana, are already lining up to get in on the evolution of the stereotype fashion. It has coincided with what is being called the "modesty movement" in fashion. Many mainstream designers are experimenting with more covered-up clothing (the one-piece bathing suit is back on trend). Indonesia is seen as an innovator in the region for modern Islamic dress. "Indonesian fashion has become more diverse and we've become more confident in taking our own culture and what we've grown up with into our influences," says Putri Soediono, a Singapore-based designer with Indonesian heritage.

The designer further stated that, Hasibuan has proven that Islamic wear can be fashionable, not just the plain black Arab-style burqa that people think of, and that there is talent in Indonesia. But although some see designers like Hasibuan as modernising the Muslim dress for the modern Muslim, there are conservative groups in Indonesia who do not agree.

"The essence of Muslim dress is to wear something decent, to be modest. For women they have to make sure what they're wearing doesn't attract the attention of men," says Dr Eva Nisa, professor of Islamic Studies at Victoria University, who has been researching Muslim fashion in Indonesia since 2007. "Some people think what the Muslim fashion designers produce is totally against this kind of religious doctrine [because it can be seen to attract attention]." In addition she stated, in reaction to this, there has been a move towards the jilbab or hijab Shari'a - presented as more appropriate modern Islamic dress - since it is long and loosen fitted. For many young Muslim women, the hijab is not a symbol or a statement, but part of their identity - an identity they are asserting more confidently.