Fashion

Abayas only: New York show spotlights rise of modest fashion

Indonesian designer Vivi Zubedi made her New York Fashion Week solo runway show debut on Sunday, wowing the crowd with her abaya-only collection as she hopes to capitalise on the growing market for modest Muslim fashion.

In September, she showcased her signature look in a joint show shared with other designers from her country.

It went so well that she jetted back to New York with the aim of drumming up more business.

"Very excited!" Zubedi giggled backstage after being mobbed by friends and family, taking selfies with US bloggers who admire her fashion-forward Islamic-style dressing even if they are not Muslim.

"I have a lot of clients here actually," she said.

It was standing room only as Zubedi sent down the runway a collection of batik prints, black and midnight blue velvet, pearl-rimmed hijabs and American baseball-style hats perched on the top of headscarves.

Unlike the average US catwalk display of leg and cleavage, there was barely a strand of hair in sight, and even hands were cloaked in leather gloves or shielded by flouncy lacy cuffs.

Zubedi's signature product is the abaya - the loose, flowing head-to-toe black garment obligatory in Saudi Arabia and adopted by some of the most strictly observant Muslim women elsewhere.

But it was far from the throw-on-an-abaya-to-head-to-the-shops kind of look.

This was luxury, crystal-embossed material shimmering in the light, pearls draped around the neck, ruffled sleeves and hip hop meets tradition - a daring black leather jacket zipped up on top.

"I thought the show was amazing," US blogger and stylist Dyandra Raye said. "I would wear all of them! I'm super dramatic!"

Fashion writer Kristen Martin agreed.

"I absolutely loved it," Martin said. "I think it's really important for us to embrace each other's culture. The line was just really detailed and it made me excited."

Since Zubedi established her eponymous label in 2011, modest fashion - designed specifically for the affluent, modern, religiously observant Muslim woman - is gaining traction as designers eye the consumer potential in conservative communities all over the world.

After her shared show in September, Zubedi said she attracted attention from buyers in Dubai, Hong Kong and the US.

Her next ambition? To open a store for overseas customers, who can now purchase her products only online. - AFP

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