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Celebrating the style of Muslim women

Molly McLaughlin

Modest fashion is beginning to turn heads in the mainstream fashion world – think Susan Carland on the Logies red carpet with husband Waleed Aly.

While diverse personal styles have always been a part of Australia’s multicultural society, Muslim women in Australia are increasingly able to create their own identity through fashion. A new exhibition at the National Archives of Australia, Faith Fashion Fusion, explores the work of Muslim designers and entrepreneurs and the way it interacts with mainstream fashion.

Officially opening today, the free exhibition has been developed by the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS) in Sydney, with advice and assistance from Multicultural NSW, Australian Muslim organisations and community members. MAAS fashion and dress curator Glynis Jones believes that an alternative approach to fashion is beneficial for both faith-based groups and the wider community.

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MAAS fashion and dress curator Glynis Jones.

“Modest fashion is one of the global fashion industry’s largest growth areas,” Glynis says.

“It’s also interesting to see the market for these designs is not limited to Muslim women but has broader appeal for woman looking for looser fitting fashionable clothing that offers more coverage.”

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Sydney’s first Muslim fashion blogger Delina Darusman-Gala has provided commentary for the exhibition. Since 2010, Delina has been chronicling her outfits and has become an influential voice in the modest fashion scene. Along with more traditional influences, Delina even takes inspiration from the Olsen twins’ loose fitting, bohemian vibe and Nicole Richie’s elegant but youthful style.

In the exhibition, academic Susan Carland, author Randa Abdel-Fattah and Australia’s first Muslin surf lifesaver Mecca Laala share their stories and discuss the Muslim-Australian experience of fashion as well as everything else.

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It also features a Sydney-based street style photo shoot that demonstrates the diversity and innovation happening at the moment in the modest fashion world.

Modest fashion covers everything from swimwear to denim to red carpet gowns and encourages designers and stylists to think outside the box when it comes to creating outfits. The Faith Fashion Fusion exhibition defies the stereotypes of what modest fashion can be and illuminates styles that might be underrepresented on catwalks but are important for many women.

The National Archives is the final stop for the exhibition of its national tour and it will be on show until 4 September.

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the essentials

What: Faith Fashion Fusion: Muslim women’s style in Australia
When: 27 May to 4 September, 9am to 5pm daily
Where: The National Archives of Australia, Queen Victoria Terrace, Parkes
How Much: Free
Web: naa.gov.au/visit-us/exhibitions/

Photography by Martin Ollman

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Molly McLaughlin

Molly McLaughlin was less than thrilled to move to Canberra a couple of years ago to study Arts and Economics at ANU, but she can confirm the city has grown on her since then. Along with writing for HerCanberra, she spends her time reading, eating noodles and planning her next adventure. More about the Author

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