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Emirati designer Rabia Z at Fashion Pakistan Week in Karachi.

 AHI: We have the very first corporate sponsored billboard for women who cover their heads…

RZ: …that is fantastic. It is common here in the Gulf but nice to see it outside of GCC.

AHI: Meanwhile, what I see as an ‘extremist’ streak of menswear designers are promoting their collections through very disturbing campaigns of women with their faces completely muffled under their scarves…

RZ: They are probably trying to copy the West, misrepresenting Muslim women and then calling it “art”!

AHI: What do you say for human figures featured without a head?

RZ: This bit is OK.  Even net-a-porter does that with their video clips of outfits as do Islamic clothing websites with their images. Muslim sites do that because photos have same Islamic ruling as drawing/sketching human figures, which is not permissible in some schools of thought. However, there are other rulings that do permit photography with reasons behind why it is not the same as drawing human figures etc. I am not a scholar so I won’t go into depth with this but in my opinion it is fine not to photograph the model without a head.  If those designers are doing it for other reasons then I would need to understand their logical reasoning behind it to make a comment.

Without judging what is Islamic and what isn’t, I ask you how do you find it possible to design clothes that are modest and yet extremely fashionable and contemporary?

RZ: My designs represent modest dressing for today’s Muslim woman.  They represent a strong, confident yet feminine Muslim/modestly dressed woman who is empowered and dynamic as most of us are; not what media or certain cultures mis-portray us as. My clothes show moderation and balance to give you the best of both worlds without having to compromise on your faith.  It promotes modesty in fashion and though my models are usually in hijab, the clothes also greatly appeal to women around the world who prefer modest dressing. Anyone that sees it otherwise, doesn’t understand the vision behind our brand and work.

(Rabia’s work can be viewed at her website


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