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The Front Row Highlights From Dubai’s Debut Modest Fashion Week

ETU show. Courtesy of DMFW

A rare downpour didn’t dampen the spirit at Dubai’s debut Modest Fashion Week (DMFW) held over the weekend. The two-day event began on a spectacular note, and saw more than 100 attendees flock to the Burj Park overlooking the Burj Khalifa, to catch Halima Aden and co. stomp down the runway wearing elegant ensembles by more than 30 local and international modest ready-to-wear, couture, and abaya designers. Read on for the top five highlights from Dubai Modest Fashion Week.

1. Halima Aden Makes Her Dubai Runway Debut

Halima Aden at the Modanisa show. Courtesy of DMFW

The hijab-wearing model and Vogue Arabia cover star Halima Aden hit the catwalk for the opening show for Modanisa, which staged the fashion shows for Raşit Bağzıbağlı, Muslima Wear and Selma Sarı. The Somali beauty made her Dubai debut on the open-air runway wearing a long, white, ruffled ensemble by London-born, Turkish couture designer Raşit Bağzıbağlı paired with a cream-colored turban to match.

2. Thought-Provoking Talks With Mariah Idrissi, Manal Rostom, Halima Aden, and More

Dina Torkia, Halima Aden, and Manal Rostom. Courtesy of DMFW

The guests got to attend various interactive talks during the two days. Following the cancellation of shows due to the rain on day one, invitees headed to the talkshow tent for Sheikha Hend Faisal Al Qassemi’s insights on the evolution of the abaya. The Q&A session was moderated by Dr Monica Gallant of the College of Fashion & Design Dubai and explored the role of the religious overlays in driving modest fashion trends across the globe.

Later that evening, Aden, hijab-wearing model Mariah Idrissi, Hijabi Nike ambassador Manal Rostom, and London-based model Muna Jama discussed taking the modest movement to the mainstream. The day ended with a talk moderated by Safiya Abdallah and including Zaskia Sungkar, Norma Hauri, ETU, Ria Miranda, and Wardah Beauty’s special representative, in which they swapped stories and beauty tips.

3. Bahar Acahan Wins the Debut Emerging Modest Fashion Designer Prize 

Emerging Modest Fashion Designer finalists and winners. Courtesy of Dubai Modest Fashion Festival

The Emerging Modest Fashion Designer award is supported by modest e-commerce platform The Modist to recognize up-and-coming, young design talent. Judges included womenswear designer Dima Ayad, industry specialists, and Think Fashion founders, who awarded Australian modest label Bahar Acahan with the grand prize. Russian-based fashion brand Araida and womenswear label for Muslim women Ilham A Ismail were dubbed “ones to watch” by the panel.

4. Celebrities and Modest Influencers From Across the Globe Gather at Burj Park

Sisters Toosy and Dina Torkia. Courtesy of DMFW

The leading ladies of modest fashion all attended, including Dina Torkia (better known as Dina Tokio to her 1.3 million Instagram followers) who is of British and Egyptian descent, and is known for her outfit posts, hijab styling tips, and tutorials. Habiba da Silva, the UK-based blogger who comes from a Lebanese and Brazilian background, was also in attendance. Da Silva – better known to her 740,000 followers as @lifelongpercussion – has also recently launched her own range of hijabs suitable for various skintones. Also at DMFW were Leena Asad (@withloveleena), Algerian-Turkish designer Nabiilabee, Dubai-based content creator Saufeeya Goodson (@feeeeya), Nike ambassador Manal Rostom, and Rumena Begum (@rumena_101). Turkish model Tülin Sahin was also among the special guests.

5. Dulce by Safiya Showcases Its Debut Collection

Safiya Abdullah and Rhea Jacobs. Courtesy of DMFW

On the last day of DMFW, modest womenswear label Dulce by Safiya, by North African designer Safiya Abdallah, unveiled a collection of structured gowns in a candy-hued palette. The lineup included metallic pleated dresses, expertly cut blazers, and flowing separates across form-flattering silhouettes. A standout piece was the chainmail-inspired hooded gown. The runway show concluded with an appearance by Dubai-based style influencer and Marc Jacobs Beauty ambassador Rhea Jacobs (@therjacobs), who took to the catwalk in a shimmering two-piece ensemble that featured a loose kaftan with a long skirt.

The event came to a close with a fashion show by Murcyleen Peerzada before spectators were treated to a surprise performance by Lebanese singer Hisham El Hajj, who sang some of his most popular hits, such as “Enti W Ana,” to a packed audience. The singer later shared a video of the performance on his personal Instagram page for fans keen to relive the experience.

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