Two weeks ago, fashion headlines buzzed with a beautiful Hijab-wearing model named Halima Aden walking the ramp for Kanye West at New York Fashion Week; a pivotal move suggesting that fashion leaders are miles ahead to welcome inclusivity unlike a certain Trump presidency.
All of 19, the Somalian-American Halima Aden has been applauded for being the very first model to compete in a beauty pageant wearing a hijab. The model with lips that could give Angelina Jolie a run for her money, has been noticed by style gurus and was featured on the cover of Carine Roitfeld’s fashion magazine styled by the fashion maven herself.
Halima’s rise to fame follows last year’s most remarkable fashion event – International Modest Fashion Week in Istanbul. It was a two-day event that brought together some of the most prominent designers who cater to the increasing fashion demand of the Muslim community and they showcased some of the most innovative variations to style the hijab.
Perhaps ‘modest fashion’ has been the unwritten trend as we moved on from the year of Marsala with bloggers and vloggers parading major style inspo in their hijabs on the streets of London, New York, Paris and Milan. This is real, and we have come a long way from Muslim women having cameos in mainstream fashion-forward movies like Sex and the City.
Around the same time, yet another model gained global recognition and I first spotted her in a Diesel campaign. It was Winnie Harlow; she who made heads turn with her wildly attractive face and body that were streaked with a skin condition called vitiligo. But, brands wanted her, magazine covers featured her, designers chased her and she was flooded with offers. In short, the fashion industry celebrated this unorthodox beauty.
Vogue USA’s March cover hailed diversity by featuring seven models, including Ashley Graham and Kendal Jenner, to reflect the coming together of different ethnicities, body sizes and skin colour, while Vogue France took the un-gender route with Brazilian trans model Valentina Sampaio. Last month’s New York Fashion Week consciously included some models who were differently abled.
Seven years ago, Lakme Fashion Week hosted a workshop for fashion journalists who dreamt of being Suzy Menkes, and we sat there making copious notes. The charismatic Bandana Tewari was one of the keynote speakers and she said something that garnered a loud applause and has stayed with me since. “You are not just a fashion journalist, you are a social anthropologist, for you observe and document trends that exist in a certain time-period,” Bandana explained in her signature style.
And here we are in 2017, and Lakme Fashion Week’s biggest gamechanger was their strategy to be more inclusive. The #TagFree show was a celebration of undoing stereotypes and made more news than the Grand Finale. The transgender model, Anjali Lama, who walked the ramp for multiple shows ousted Lakme’s brand ambassador on every social media platform.
In the same month, Elle India featured Anjali on their cover with the bold caption #UNGENDER Join the Global Movement.
As we welcome spring and celebrate women’s month, the time could not be more apt to dish out the season’s hottest hue – pink. While we talk about breaking stereotypes, nominating pink for this season feels somewhat amiss. Take it with a healthy those of irony because pink for Spring 2017 is tailored to reflect the persistent power of feminists, not to mention it does so with a sense of humour, such as Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
Like this article? Also read: Five women show you how diverse Indian beauty can be