Skip to main content

The Dawn Review, April 25, 2010

We live in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and despite the fact that modern society is readily adapting ways of the West, many (in fact a majority of women in the country’s huge population) prefer to observe the hijab or cover their heads. It is therefore a natural part of Pakistan’s style evolution that fashion also address that huge majority. And that is exactly what is happening. We are seeing more and more women adapting options of how to cover the hair or simply cover up without compromising on their style quotient. The variations are very exciting and one feels proud to see many women sprucing up their hijabs just as eagerly as one would update makeup or accessories.

As UAE based fashion designer Rabia Z, who was recently visiting Karachi for Fashion Pakistan Week 2, said: “I cover my head and that’s what I portray in my collections too. Many people are skeptical that fashion and the veil cannot go hand in hand but I say that I’m a fashionable person who does the hijab. No one designs for women like me and I wish to change that. Let’s have fun with covering up!”

Here’s a run through of what one has been observing in terms of fashionable veils…


Twenty-plus women: the towering turban

A very fashionable alternative to a black scarf, the flattering turban is a radical, rare and yet extremely funky way to cover the head. It’s when you select a scarf or fabric that compliments your outfit (in either coordinating and contrasting colours) and wrap it around your head like a turban. It does look like a trend borrowed from African tribeswomen but that just makes it all the more trendy and certainly more fashionable. Highly recommended if you are twenty plus, tall and like to wear colours, especially if you only cover the head and the rest of your attire is contemporary.

Thirty-plus women: lace inserts


Delicate lace, no matter what form or style you wear it in, will add elegance and class to your wardrobe. It’s a given, especially if you opt for the French variety which drapes like a whisk of silk. A very sophisticated way of making sure that you have no runaway hair is to construct skullcaps (that look like swimming caps) in different shades of lace. They will fit over your head while an equally delicate dupatta or scarf will drape over it. Very Parisian, tres chic!

Forty-plus: the little black veil

Every single woman who wears the burqa has a black headscarf. In fact, in terms of style the little black veil is the equivalent of Chanel’s ‘little black dress’ because for women who like to cover up, the black headscarf is a wardrobe essential. Women wear it with their casual wear or with burqas but almost everyone has a black scarf or dupatta, all the more reason why it has to evolve beyond the stark, unforgiving, angel of death symbolism. A little flair would be welcome and who better to look towards than the Middle East. Black is every Arab woman’s veil essential but they have adapted it in a highly glamorous, almost mysterious manner. That’s the trend Pakistani women should follow. If you wear the burqa then spruce it up with either lace for the day or Swarovski crystals for the evening. When in Dubai, one can witness the most expensive and intricate of crystal patterns adorning burqas, sometimes even in different colours. Similar trends are available in all commercial areas whether you live in Karachi or Lahore. Get some bling on your burqa; it’s the in thing!

Note: The white dupatta draped over the head is an option to avoid as long as you can, unless your white dupatta is lacy or fancy, of course. Plain white, in our society, often symbolizes death and mourning or even old age. And almost all our grand mothers did resign to white dupattas as they aged; it was and always will be a graceful option for them but that said, it needn’t and shouldn’t be for the young at heart.

Photos courtesy Tapu Javeri

Leave a Reply