What is fashion? Does Paris fashion show represent world fashion? If you have read my last post on Abaya fashion, you probably will have an idea of fashion in the Muslim world. Obviously fashion in the Muslim world is a mix with Islamic dress code. This is various from country to country. Alexandru Balasescu, an anthropologist, shows the different between a fashion showrooms in Tehran and Paris in “Gendered Space and Fashion Catwalks: Paris and Tehran.” He notes that the showrooms in Tehran has “enforced and transgress requirements of gender segregation, in Paris fashion houses with a Middle Eastern clientele create a gender-segregated space in order to accommodate the sensibilities of their customer” (Annelies Moors).
“We can dress as well as you do,” was an argument Ozlem Sandikci often encountered in discussions between Islamist women with Turkish secularists. This is an open sentence of Annelies Moors’ conference summary report on “Muslim Fashions – Fashionable Muslims.” Moors is an Anthropologist professor in University of Amsterdam. In her report, she argues that
Young Muslim women wearing Islamic dress in Europe as well as in Muslim majority countries are not simply conforming to notions of Islamic propriety, but are also involved in developing new styles of Islamic fashion or hybrid forms of fashion that include Islamic elements. At the same time, fashion in Muslim societies is not restricted to styles of dress that are linked to or inspired by Islamic dressing codes.
In the Muslim communities, we have seem various styles of Islamic fashion as Moors’ statement. Apparently, Egyptian women have their own fashion as compare with the Levantine countries and the Gulf.
Muslim fashion has been a form of debate about femininity, piety, gender segregation, power/authority, and propriety. Muslim fashion surely reveals the women’s lives and cycles.
Moors has investigated the term Islamic fashion whether the term itself is contradictory in “Islam and Fashion on the Streets of San’a, Yemen.” She argues that “[n]ot all women wearing Islamic dress are, however, equally seen as victims of religious or familial systems of oppression.” For instance, the women of Moroccan descent in the Netherlands have developed new styles of Islamic fashions as well as comply with her propriety. In her article, she provides some very important information over the fashion trends in Sana’a from 1960s to 2000.
–Sharshaf – Turkish style of dress reached Yemen during the Ottoman Empire. In 1960s, some years the establishment of the Yemen Arab Republic, wearing hijab became a major topic of debate in the Yemeni press: Sharshaf was replaced by Balto. -A small number of women began to discard the face veil in the 1970s and the debate over lifting of the hijab: Sabah al-Iryani argued that the lift of veil was to show the beauty of the women rather to enable them to participate in society. However at this time, the Islamists also began to gain influence -In the 1990s, niqab (face-veiling) was introduced and became popular with an enormous of Yemeni returnees from Saudi Arabia.
It is true when Moors says that “it is impossible to discuss women’s cloths outside the field of fashion.” However it is impossible to discuss Islamic fashion outside the field of femininity, piety, propriety, and power. Moors presents a positive view on the authority of Islamic dress code in Yemen. Islamist women is also involved in the argument of the Code and make decisions.