Egyptian designer puts on a show as industry insiders scout for talent

NEW YORK: In dresses eliciting a “I want that” response, models showcasing collections from Saudi designers transformed the Museum of the City of New York into a work of art  last week as they sashayed down the runway and into the hearts of every woman looking for inspiration on how to be fashionably modest.

And that’s exactly what the dedicated panel discussion brought to the table. Founder and CEO of Maarkah, Rabab Abdalla, said she launched a panel centered on modest fashion and what it means to be visibly Muslim in today’s digitally focused fashion world to ensure greater representation of designers from the Middle East and North Africa region at New York Fashion Week.

I moderated a diverse set of women, including British hijab-wearing model Mariah Idrissi, who is also the face of Fenty Beauty, and Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, the founder of MuslimGirl.com, as well as Saudi designer Arwa Al-Ammari.

With elegantly draped dresses and endless layers of fabric, Al-Ammari’s ArAm collection, shown on the sidelines of fashion week, proved once again that she is armed with considerable experience and a flair for the fashionable.

As an ambassador of the Arab Fashion Council and the first winner of Fashion Star Arabia, Al-Ammari said that the world is starting to listen to Muslim women and that is a good thing. “By having access to social media, the world has become a global village. People have started expressing themselves through fashion,” she told me during the panel discussion.

Abdalla said she chose Al-Ammari for her “unmeasurable talent.”

“I knew Arwa would be the ideal woman to represent and empower other Saudi women on a big platform,” she said.

Close on Al-Ammari’s heels is another Saudi designer, Jalila Nayil, who showcased her luxury line, Laith. “Fashion is a language that is spoken and understood by an international audience… It felt like I was being heard,” she said. 

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