Is Muslim fashion finally getting the attention it deserves from luxury designers? Well, Dolce & Gabbana’s inaugural collection of hijabs and abayas certainly seems like a solid start. The Italian house debuted an array of abayas (loose, full-length, robe-like garments worn by some Muslim women) and hijabs (headscarves) on Style.com/Arabia on Sunday.
The collection, comprised of satin weave charmeuse and sheer georgette pieces, involves ample lace detailing — unsurprisingly, as that's Dolce & Gabbana’s Sicilian-widow-apropos signature. Besides plenty of black-and-black, there are a couple prints on offer, including rose, lemon, and daisy motifs, as well as a dramatic B&W baroque-patterned number.
“It's really cool that a major designer is extending its tastes to Muslim clothing items, but are brands finally catering to Muslim women, or are they exploiting them?” Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, editor-in-chief and CEO of fashion blog MuslimGirl.net, remarked to Refinery29. “I think this is an important moment in fashion where we can influence that relationship in the right direction.”
Dolce & Gabbana’s new modest garb is a really progressive (if slightly imperfect) step for the Muslim fashion community, she said. To wit: how the collection images were cast. “Muslim women are getting the visibility right now, but not necessarily the inclusivity…The model for the D&G [hijab and abaya] line is still a white-passing woman that might not even be Muslim,” Al-Khatahtbeh said.
Last summer, Stefano Gabbana alluded to the collection in an interview with Arab newspaper, The National, as Dazed pointed out: "I’m really fascinated with the Middle East and we’ve just completed a prêt-à-porter collection of abayas and sheylas. Pieces have some lace, embroidery, and some prints — but not too much."
Dolce & Gabbana’s forthcoming line catering to its Middle Eastern customers follows DKNY’s Ramadan line, which launched in July 2014 as a regionalized campaign and collection. H&M got tons of attention in September for featuring its first-ever hijab-wearing model, Mariah Idrissi, in a campaign video (granted, Idrissi was only featured in a very brief, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it shot, alongside a diverse array of other models).
The collection has drummed up plenty of excitement on social media: "Thank you, @dolcegabbana for seeing that there is beauty in our differences. #MuslimandProud #DolceandGabbana," wrote one Twitter user. "This will make some people freak out! Enjoy!! The Dolce & Gabbana Abaya Collection Debut," another tweeted. Others were a bit more critical of the label's motives behind a modest collection aimed at Middle Eastern shoppers: "Catering to where the $$$$ is. Smart marketing!" one Instagram user commented on Gabbana' s shot of the new looks.
We’ve reached out to Dolce & Gabbana’s reps for the collection’s price points, as well as details on which store locations or regions will carry the pieces, and will update when we hear back.
Other luxury labels are bound to follow suit with their own spates of high-end hijabs and abayas soon enough, though it remains to be seen how designer takes on modest fashion will jive with the Muslim customers they're vying for. “It's going to be really interesting to watch the way consumerism and the fashion world interact with Islam, and how that relationship will unfold,” Al-Khatahtbeh said.