On Ramadan, fashion and Ramadan fashion – with a beauty focus?
The first half of Ramadan has come and gone. With it, a myriad international editorials and op-ed pieces on Ramadan collections and hijab have saturated the media landscape.
There's been a lot of debate around 2016's Ramadan fashion collections, especially with major fashion players such as Burberry, Zara, Tommy Hilfiger and Mango following in the footsteps of frontrunner DKNY who launched their first Ramadan collection in 2014 to target Muslim women in the Middle. East. And yet... these collections fail most of the Muslim population. While it's applaudable that designers have included the Muslim population in their target audiences, they've failed to reflect the needs and values of Muslim women in their Ramadan collections.
The collections are inappropriate to wear during this holy month and improper for the Islamic religious guidelines as a whole (read: not modest enough), they're only targeted at a very small segment of the population, namely women that live in the Middle East, at gastronomic prices that most Muslims can't afford (again, Westerners believe the majority of Muslims are high-spending Arabs rich off their oil springs). Contrary to Refinery29's belief that most Muslim women are in search of formal or semi-formal items to wear to the various events taking place in Ramadan as well as on Eid, I'd say a lot of us are actually looking for casual pieces that can easily be worn with other items in our wardrobes (a point Mango has stressed with their latest collection, which includes leggings, tunics and body wraps) as well as pieces that work in all types of weather (all hail the innovative Veil Hijab, who produces climate-adaptive scarves and gym apparel – unfortunately sold in US dollars at the current exchange rate, making it difficult for Muslim women in underserved and poorer countries to gain access).
Closer to home, #RespekTheDoek took centre stage when journalist Nontobeko Sibisi's segment was cut from an eNCA video on Africa Day because she was wearing a headscarf. In a country such as South Africa, which boasts 11 languages and various cultures that associate the headscarf, doek, turban or hijab with many different values, including respect, modesty, honour, history and preservation, this almost seems laughable – especially at a time when the hijab is slowly being relinquished from the controversial Westernised notions that is it a symbol of oppression. So much so, that this past London Fashion Week held in February, two London College of Fashion graduates Nelly Rose and Odette Steele teamed up with Indonesian designer Dian Pelangi to redesign the hijab into 24 fashion-forward designs that appeals to non-religious women as well.
In France, where Islamophobic sentiments persist and women are legally prohibited from wearing religious garments that cover their faces, such as burqas, the hijab has become a political symbol. Students at the Sciences Po University invited all students who hold the belief that women should have the right to dress the way they want and be respected for this choice, to wear a hijab during university hours to a 'Hijab Day' this past April.
Both these movements – the inclusion of modest-wear on a global scale and the acceptance of the hijab beyond spiritual, religious and cultural reasons – are once again putting a spotlight on Islamophobia and highlighting the fact that in countries such as the United States, Britain and France, women wearing the headscarf for religious and cultural reasons are still being discriminated against and risk attack for their clothing choices. While solidarity through cultural appropriation is often applauded, as in the case of #RespekTheDoek, it is still problematic as the consequences are often more severe for hijabis and those wearing the headscarf for cultural reasons.
While I don't wear the hijab on a daily basis, the fact that I am allowed to wear it without judgement, oppression or fear of attack is a blessing many South African Muslims take for granted and is only highlighted further by movements such as Hijab Day and #RespekTheDoek. So, in conceptualising this shoot, I thought it would be beautiful to showcase a few of the ways I wear my hijab and how wearing it doesn't necessarily mean replacing a love of style and beauty with a religious, spiritual or cultural symbol.
Image 3, from top left: Benefit Pore Professional, essence make-up brush, essence all about matt! oil-free make-up in 10 matt beige, Catrice Ultimate Stay Lipstick in 070 Plum & Base, Rimmel Lasting Finish Lipstick in 120 Cutting Edge, Flormar Waterproof Lip Liner, Catrice Infinite Shine Lip Gloss in 240 Like A Vintage Rose, Catrice Luminous Lipstick in 100 Me, My Macaron & I.
Image 5, from top left: Guerlain Terracotta Khôl, Benefit Sun Beam, Craft glitter, Chanel Le Blanc de Chanel Multi-use Illuminating Base.
Image 9, from top right: essence how to make brows wow make-up box, essence eyebrow gel colour & shape in 01 brown, H&M Eyeliner Brush, Urban Decay Brow Beater Microfine Brow Pencil and Brush in Neutral Brown, MAC Pro Longwear Waterproof Brow Set in Quiet Brunette.
Image 11, from top left: Tweezerman Eyelash Curler, Eyelure Volume Lashes in No. 101, Bobbi Brown Tinted Eye Brightener in Light to Medium Peach, H&M Eyeliner Brush, Urban Decay Brow Beater Microfine Brow Pencil and Brush in Neutral Brown, Sally Hansen Hard As Nails Xtreme Wear in 159 Golden-I, essence the gel nail polish in 46 black is back.
Photography: Samantha Pinto
Beauty: Megan Wridgway