One year after the Australian city’s first mainstream modest runway show took place during Melbourne Fashion Week, it returned in a digital format.
The show, which was a collaboration between Modest Fashion Runways and Melbourne Fashion Week, live-streamed the designs of some of Australia’s most exciting up-and-coming modestwear brands on Saturday, November 28.
"Due to Covid-19, we are rapidly progressing to a virtual world," Yusuf Liban, Modest Fashion Runways director, tells The National. "There are many advantages of a digital show. The fact that the shows are easily accessible widens our platform and allows designers to connect with potential global clients and buyers." He says Australia is one of the leading markets for modest fashion: "Most of the world's biggest modest fashion players are Australian."
Personalities such as Nawal Sari, famous for her creative scarf-tying techniques, and Yasmin Jay, the hijab-wearing blogger and eveningwear designer who made an appearance at Dubai Modest Fashion Week last year, were also a part of Melbourne Fashion Week, which shone a spotlight on these six modestwear brands.
A contemporary princess theme with unmistakable Turkish influences runs through the designs of New South Wales brand Dusty Pink, which targets women seeking beautiful modestwear that isn't over the top.
"The Dusty Pink aesthetic is classic yet chic. Our customers include the everyday woman, the working mum, the influencer and the plus-size woman," says designer Christine Eljamal. At Melbourne Fashion Week, tiered dresses and skirts, and elegant, belted gowns with draped bodices appeared on "stage" in primary colours.
The brand also showcased its knack for reimagining feminine silhouettes in practical textiles such as denim, with its creation of tiered maxi dresses with high-neck collars and zip-down, floor-length abaya-like coats.
Describing itself as a sustainable and multifunctional full-coverage swimwear label, Azya Swim offers designs that are both versatile and elegant, to the extent that they could transition from beach to brunch. At this year’s show, one-piece designs in shades of mauve, olive and black featured high necklines and were paired with high-waisted, sarong-style maxi skirts and swim-friendly turbans.
"Our signature sustainable techno-fabric combined with feminine minimalist designs allows the wearer to use the garments for both water and movement activities," co-founder Marina Ishak tells The National. "And our swimwear also effortlessly crosses over into ready-to-wear once paired with existing wardrobes."
The showstopping look was a black swim-dress brought to life with voluminous, leg-of-mutton-style sleeves, which featured an enchanting dark floral pattern also used in some of the swimsuits. While paired with swim leggings at this runway show, it wouldn't look out of place at an elegant dinner party.
Leading Australian modestwear brand Hijab House presented a collection of classic and easy-to-wear silhouettes with thoughtful detailing and a bohemian flair.
“The collection is inspired by European resortwear as well as some early 1990s denim pieces we found in fashion archives. It offers an alternative to the common modest dress,” says chief executive Tarik Houchar.
A white A-line dress was a picture of simplicity, save for the addition of subtle, ruched shoulders, while drop-waist dresses were finished with floor-length hems. A denim, button-down maxi skirt was paired with a long, white blouse, which was worn half untucked, making a cool and casual sartorial statement.
This Aussie modestwear label combines feminine flounce with casual, effortless ease. For its fashion week edit, shirt dresses featured Victorian influences, and pencil skirts paired with peplum tops made a fine argument for the next big trend in modest fashion.
“We go for flattering and modest silhouettes such as A-line dresses and skirts. This season we have extended our range to include jumpsuits and straight-cut dresses,” says designer Maryam.
The brand’s real strength, however, lies in putting creative twists on its matching sets made up of tunics and wide-leg pants, creating practical fashion for women who seek streamlined and sophisticated comfort.
Modest fashion for men is an up-and-coming market, and Praer seeks to debunk the myth that modesty is only for women. The brand's edgy, streetwear-inspired ensembles for both men and women focused on silhouette, texture and pattern, without any visible logos, reflecting its "anti-brand" ideology.
“Modest menswear is for men who would like to observe modesty, no more, no less," says designer Ilyas Morrison. "You are not required to fall under a religious or cultural label, ethnic background, colour or creed. We are living in a time where the social pressures on men from all walks of life are almost entirely overlooked and yet we are witnessing a wave of mental health concerns.”
“Modest menswear provides the same empowerment, confidence and protection we hear from our female counterparts and, with enough flavour and creativity, promotes an aesthetic that is easy on the heart as well as the eyes.” Praer’s designs will be available to pre-order from January 2021.
There are a number of headwear trends that influence hijab styles, from turbans and bucket hats to even baseball caps layered underneath headscarves. Jamela Boutique specialises in a different style of topper – one that suits the sunny climate of Australia, and is a stylish accompaniment to modestwear looks.
“Our hats have a mould size and design specifically for women who wear hijabs and head coverings, while offering protection from the sun,” says founder Seher Istar.
The handcrafted straw and raffia designs appeared on the runway in wide-brimmed boater, garden and floppy styles, instantly elevating summer dresses and linen suits. Whether they’re worn at the beach or at a picnic in the park – which has become a popular pandemic pastime of the fashion crowd – these hats are sure to turn heads.