Muslim women's fashion exhibition

By: Julia Irwin


MODEST Muslim couture is emerging as a trendsetter in contemporary Australian fashion, thanks to a new wave of designers.

Preston resident Dima Kattan is among designers who were disillusioned with the lack of choice, style and practicality in Muslim fashion. Realising she could do better, she started her own label Dima G for the discerning fashionista or, more appropriately, “hijabista”.

“The clothes I’ve designed are for women who like to follow fashion but want to feel comfortable — they are easier for women to wear,” Kattan said.

“I care about the fabric I use and mainly use natural fibres like silk and cotton — I rarely use polyester.”

Kattan is among those whose works appear at the upcoming Immigration Museum exhibition Faith, fashion, fashion: Muslim Women’s Style in Australia.

“Many of these labels were founded by Muslim Women whose own experience of finding fashionable head scarfs was either limited or non-existent and that led them to start designing and making their own clothes,” Immigration Museum manager Padmini Sebastian said.

“This includes a designer who creates high-end dresses inspired by pop star Rihanna, to the swimwear designer who created the one and only Burquini.”

Kattan said although Muslim women were required to cover their arms, legs body shape and hair, there was plenty of leeway in what women could wear and what she could design for her online business.

“Women can even wear pants so long as the don’t show the details of their body,” she said.

Kattan, a Palestinian living in Jordan before she moved to Australia 25 years ago, decided to stop wearing western clothes and wear the Muslim hijab eight years ago.

“Before I started wearing the hijab, no-one could tell if I was Italian or Muslim but now people know straight away,” she said.

“Every now and then someone might make a bad comment but I find most people are very friendly — people in Australia understand.”

Kattan said with new cutting-edge Muslim designers making waves on the fashion scene, non-Muslim women might also start to wear the clothes.

Faith, fashion, fusion: Muslim Women’s Style in Australia is at the Immigration Museum, 400 Flinders St, CBD, from October 10 to July 9.

Adults: $10. Free for children and concession card holders.