To begin this review by stating that Mashael Alrajhi revealed, for the first time in history, the much talked about and photographed Nike Pro hijab—a polyester hijab for Muslim female athletes—on her Fashion Forward runway, works both for and against the Saudi designer. Alrajhi’s eponymous brand thrives on its signature of blending couture and sportswear; for Nike to collaborate with Alrajhi is evidence, and Muslim women around the world will be be drawn to look at her show as a result.
However, this critic does not wish for the Nike Pro hijab to steer any spotlight from Alrajhi’s clothes themselves. They were outstanding, and not just because in a period when fashion is increasingly recycling eras the young designer managed to create something fresh, but rather that she did so by nimbly blending couture and sportswear, Eastern and Western dress, and masculine and feminine codes.
Case-in-point, observe the dress above. See how Alrajhi collides the loose, sober elegance of an abaya’s silhouette to embrace a Western pinafore and ceremoniously marry the two with flowers that cinch the waist. Alrajhi adds a further dimension to the look by matching masculine pinstripes with feminine pleats.
Below, she introduces ruching in ultramarine blue; it adds texture to the silhouette and emphasizes the criss-cross that recalls a corset. However the garment’s shape remains loose and flowing. After all, Alrajhi’s woman is on the move and will not be restricted by form-fitting clothes to satisfy the prying gaze of another.
To the trained eye, Alrajhi’s collection reflects an ideal world. One where far-flung cultures meet on common ground; where customs are shared and embraced with open arms; and where a new vocabulary arises from this exchange. Nothing is lost, only gained. It’s no wonder Nike turned to her. With this Spring 2018 collection, Mashael Alrajhi “did it.”