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Show coordinator N’aimah Abdullah is breaking barriers in the fashion world. Abdullah lent her creative geniuses to the 35th annual Sealed Nectar Fashion Show where the designer created a cruise-themed Islamic fashion event. Packed with beachwear, dancing, and tropical music, the vacation-inspired runway show served as a place where Black Muslim women could express their creativity and “individuality.”
“This is Black women showing their creativity and allowing themselves that place to shine,” Abdullah explained to ACJ.
“We’re the leaders in fashion and when you start talking about colors and styles and all of these different things — African American women have been unapologetically fashionable.”
Designers who took part in the event also shared that they wanted to help empower and uplift Muslim women through their fashionably modest designs. The move is bold considering society’s frequent pushback against Muslim women for wanting the right to express themselves freely. A study conducted by Pew Research Center suggested that women in 56 countries often experienced “harassment from individuals or groups – due to clothing that was deemed to violate religious or secular dress norms.” The harmful criticism often lead to verbal abuse or in some cases physical violence. Muslim women have even faced discrimination for refusing to remove their headscarves– which some say they have been denied employment as a result.
Despite the backlash, The Sealed Nectar Fashion show is leading the way in a conversation about what it means to identify as a Black Muslim woman and how fashion can be used as a tool to express the joy of identity. Attendees participated in the show over Zoom this year due to COVID restrictions, but the chatroom was packed with love and admiration for the designer’s pieces. Rahima Shaban who showcased her Beautiful Jamila brand during the show shared that she was able to “see” herself and feel comfortable expressing her Africaness in a way that was powerful and profound.
Nefertari Hazziez of Queens’ Creations said seeing her designs appear in the show brought her to tears.
“Muslims in America, we’ve always had the fashion flair but we just weren’t known for that. So I think that one of the differences is that we are being shown more and we’re being seen more,” she explained.