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Australia: Young designer ’hijabifying’ Melbourne

Friday 15 November 2013, by siawi3

Source: http://www.theage.com.au/national/young-designer-hijabifying-melbourne-20131004-2uzux.html

October 5, 2013

Annabel Ross

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/national/young-designer-hijabifying-melbourne-20131004-2uzux.html#ixzz2kcV5oP00

Hijabstylist Zulfiye Tufa.

Zulfiye, known as thehijabstylist on social media, is one of of the designers featured in Faith Fashion Fusion, an exhibition at Melbourne’s Immigration Museum. Photo: Jason South

The dress is a knockout. In black velvet, it’s a long-sleeved, fitted gown that falls to the floor and pools around the mannequin’s feet.

The shoulders are adorned with silver spikes and shiny crystals, and black chains affixed to each shoulder hang below the bust, forming a kind of necklace. A smoky grey scarf has been tied around the mannequin’s head; there’s a black scarf underneath with more chains running across the hairline.

The designer, Zulfiye, was inspired by Rihanna. While the singer usually gets around in outfits that leave little to the imagination, Zulfiye wanted to create something that had as much impact, but that Muslim women, like herself, could wear comfortably.
Hijab stylist Zulfiye Tufa is a young designer of Turkish/Oromo heritage.

Muslim Women’s Style, a fusion of faith and fashion

Hijab stylist Zulfiye Tufa is a young designer of Turkish/Oromo heritage. Photo: Jason South

A growing phenomenon, the practice of adapting fashion-forward clothing to make it more modest has been dubbed “hijabifying”, and Zulfiye, when she’s not studying to become a pharmacist, moonlights as a designer, calling herself thehijabstylist on Facebook and Instagram.

“I started doing it in high school, I found it was hard to find things that I liked that was respecting the religion and what the requirements are,” she says. “People started liking it and asking me to help them out as well.”

Zulfiye is one of the designers featured in Faith Fashion Fusion, an exhibition that has made its way from Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum to Melbourne’s Immigration Museum. Designers like Zulfiye, who have modified outfits in different ways - from the designer who makes long skirts and matching tops in denim to the woman responsible for the modest swimming costume dubbed the “Burquini” - will have their creations displayed.

In another room, prominent Muslim women - from sociologist (and wife of Waleed Aly) Susan Carland, to Sydney surf lifesaver Mecca Laalaa - are profiled. Pictures and video interviews are presented alongside artefacts that tell a story about each woman’s identity. Academic Dr Nasya Bahfen has chosen a pair of soccer boots - “I’m completely obsessed with sport”, she says - and a men’s silk tie she likes to wear, which challenges the views of more conservative Muslims on two fronts: that men should not wear silk and women should not wear men’s attire.

Other women profiled, such as author Randa Abdel-Fattah, don’t wear a hijab at all. As much as Faith Fashion Fusion is an examination of the hijab, it is also more broadly about the experiences of the modern Muslim woman in Australia.

“It uses the hijab as a hook, in a sense … because people are interested in that, but what I think a lot of people miss … is that to cover or not to cover is ultimately a personal choice,” says Melbourne curator Tasneem Chopra.

“The point here is that the hijab, while very topical, shouldn’t take anything away from the complexity of each individual person, it’s just a component, and it does tend to become the issue that overrides the entire conversation.”

For Zulfiye, hijabifying is a way to indulge her passion for fashion, while presenting the hijab as anything but a symbol of oppression.

“In our culture I think there’s a notion of ’if you’ve got it, flaunt it’. People think when you cover yourself up it’s because you’re ashamed, not because you choose not to show it to the world,” she said.

Faith Fashion Fusion is at the Immigration Museum until June 9, 2014.