Heading for the catwalk: hijab fashion contest wraps up in Chicago

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A fashion design contest in Chicago, challenging designers to create an American style of hijab, wrapped up this week in front of a star-studded line up of judges.

Panelists included Rhymefest, a Kanye West collaborator; Shireen Soliman, who teaches at Parsons The New School for Design in New York, Aminah McCloud, director of DePaul University’s Islamic World Studies program, Derek Khan, who guest-judged “America’s Next Top Model” and designer Nailah Lymus, who founded a modeling agency for Muslims called Underwraps.


Created in order to promote a culture of tolerance in the United States by human rights attorney Shaz Kaiseruddin, the American Hijab Design Contest aims to prove that the “hijab is as American as blue jeans,” according to the official website.

The competition was won by New Yorker Sarah Musa, who graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.

Her winning outfit featured a camel-colored quilted shirt-dress, worn with a turtle-neck and knitted hat.

The outfit fits the necessary requirements for a hijab as set by the contest’s organizers; “the covering of everything but the hands, face, and feet in a non-formfitting and non-sheer manner.”

“If you really study Shariah, Islamic law — rather than what Fox News says Shariah is — women just have to be covered,” said Musa in an interview with The Chicago Tribune, “so whether you use a hat and turtleneck, or funk it out with a turban style, it’s still a hijab. In Saudi Arabia they might wear black. But in America we may choose to wear jeans and jean jackets. The creativity is limitless as long as she meets modesty guidelines. Basically everything is covered but the hands and face.”

Musa’s design grand prize includes a trip to Dubai.

In addition to the design component of the competition, organizers also included a style contest for non-designers to present their American hijab outfits.

This was won by Yasmeen Sabir for her tropical headscarf scarf coupled with a coral motorcycle jacket ensemble.

The aim of the competition was to create a style of hijab that speaks to today’s American fashion, according to the contest’s website.

In addition to this, “I want to make a woman feel liberated, regardless of her faith,” said Musa.

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