Sultana's Dream

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Sultana's Dream
November 2013

ARTS/MEDIA


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Faith, Fashion, Fusion: Muslim Women's Style in Australia  

The Powerhouse publication, Faith, Fashion, Fusion; Muslim Women’s Style in Australia, profiles various designers, prominent individuals, and fashionistas from the previously little known Modest Fashion circles in Sydney. It shouts out for all to hear ‘Modest fashion is more than assimilation – it’s innovation!’

As I sat down to write this review, I realised my copy had disappeared from my desk. Sure enough, I came across my sister (a fashion-crazed adolescent) lounging on her bed, drinking a cup of tea and flicking through the pages. 

‘This stuff is SO gorgeous, does this designer have a Facebook page?! I want these pants, I NEED THESE PANTS!’, she yelled as I snatched my copy back. 

And it finally dawned on me. The development of the Modest Fashion industry is an inspiration to the general Australian women’s fashion market. This newfound creative design and fashion style appeals to women of all stripes. 

The publication includes a number of interesting profiles, and essays including an analysis of the to cover or not to cover debate by Shakira Hussein. Her essay points out that the emergence of the Modest Fashion industry ‘represents a break with both the various regional outfits of Muslim-majority societies… [as well as] the ‘uncovered’ western-style dress-mode.’

Could this new Muslim fashion trend represent the birth of a new fashion style for all Aussie women? Does it offer something different to the tight pencil skirt or bare-all tube dress on a Saturday night? 

Hussein goes on to describe the negative effects of the ‘moral panic’ around Islamic dress in Australia, as she laments ‘all conversational pathways seem to lead back to the issue of ‘the veil’….The new style of covering has become a fashion trend among women with a diverse range of political perspectives.’ 

The new emphasis on individual expression through this emerging style is evident of an attempt to reclaim ‘the veil’ back in to the individual’s space, and away from the multi-cultural discourse that had co-opted it. Perhaps this new fashion trend could take us one step closer to reclaiming the woman’s body from the public space, no matter her faith, class, or ethnicity. 

Faith, fashion, fusion: Muslim women’s style in Australia, edited by Glynis Jones, is available to order online at www.powerhousemuseum.com. 


Gemma Ross-McGlynn


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