How Dubai-based influencers are changing the narrative around modest fashion

Hafsa Lodi
Filed on March 25, 2021
Nida wears blue dress by Iris and Ink at The Outnet, Mehreen wears cream dress by Iris and Ink at The Outnet, Safiya wears blazer and trousers by Iris and Ink at the Outnet and rings by Nina Runsdorf, Salima wears yellow blazer by Iris and Ink at The Outnet and rings by Nina Runsdorf, Hanan wears her own clothes and jewellery. Photo courtesy of modestish, with flowers by Quite Quaint, shot at Maiz Tacos by Qash Abbas at Broomstick Creative.

We bring you five Dubai-based hijabi creatives you should be following on Instagram

From an experimental makeup artist to a lifestyle blogger who shares her candid family moments, meet the UAE-based hijabi women who are using social media to inspire others. These chic, creative and digital-savvy women come from different walks of life, but have a passion for modest fashion in common, and they’re churning out content that’s meaningful, memorable and motivational. Ahead of Muslim Women’s Day on March 27, we meet these rising stars to talk about how wearing the hijab has shaped their personal style, creativity, content and experience with empowerment. Shot by modestish, a newly-launched online content hub and styling consultancy dedicated to making mainstream representation of modest fashion more authentic, these stylish social media faces wear spring style trends: pleats, boxy blazers, button-down dresses and tailored suits.

Salima Alaoui

A Chinese-Moroccan-Yemeni modest model and photographer who gives a whole new dimension to street wear and experimental layering

How would you describe your personal style and aesthetic?

My personal style has many moods, the way I dress is how I like to express my personality through different looks. As for my aesthetic, I like to think of myself as a bold, colourful and creative person when reflecting on my pictures.

In what ways is fashion an outlet of creative expression for you, and what type of content do you like to share on social media?

Experimenting with different fabrics, colours and styles is what I enjoy doing. The content I share on my socials are different styles of moods I like to dress in, which also inspires other female hijabis to create their own unique styles.

What makes social media the ideal platform to help spread the message of the hijab as an empowering symbol?

Nowadays everyone uses social media, it allows you to connect with so many people by expressing and spreading messages through images, blogs, captions and stories. Social media also categorises people’s interests, which makes it easier for me to spread the message of the hijab.

How do you hope to inspire the young women who follow you?

I hope to inspire woman by posting regularly on not being scared of express themselves through dressing in different colours and styles. Feeling comfortable and confident in yourself is the key to growth — we all love to see confident women.

Name a female icon you look up to.

Junaynah El Guthmy is one of my close friends and role model. She has always been supportive of what I create and if I’m ever in need of advice, she offers it. Junaynah has always been strong-willed when it comes to the creative field, and it’s what she loves doing.

Hanan Houachmi

The multifaceted French-Moroccan modest fashion influencer, mother and founder of Modesteen magazine

How would you describe your personal style?

Modesty with an edge. A strong conversation between my feminine side and my obsession for sartorial gentlemen elegance.

In what ways is fashion an outlet of creative expression for you?

Fashion has always been a constant way of expressing with those you don’t have the opportunity to talk to. It is the first thing we notice before proper conversation. Modesty commands respect and forces people to look into your personality, merits and qualifications.

What makes social media the ideal platform to help spread the message of the hijab as an empowering symbol?

The audience of all ages, the possibility to choose your target and build your community from all over the world. Social media is inclusive enough to help spread that message.

How do you hope to inspire the young women who follow you?

Through Modesteen, I am creating a magazine for modest teenagers to give them their own relatable space. More than a magazine, it’s an inclusive, anti-bullying platform free from stigma and hyper sexualisation.

Nida Siddiq

An American-Pakistani lifestyle blogger who posts on style, cooking and family life

How would you describe your personal style?

I like to dress with comfort in mind and that’s usually in neutral and solid colour palettes. I’m also super girly, you’ll often find me in dresses! I love staying connected to my culture by wearing traditional Pakistani clothes.

In what ways is fashion an outlet of creative expression?

Fashion to me is about having fun — I love to dress up! It puts me in a great mood for the day. I also enjoy sharing videos with upbeat Bollywood music that can make anyone smile.

What makes social media the ideal platform to spread the message of the hijab as an empowering symbol?

I think social media provides a window into our lives being ‘normal’. We aren’t oppressed, we do this by choice and we absolutely love sharing modest fashion.

How do you hope to inspire the young women who follow you?

I would hope they see that I’m just like them, and inspire them to make time for themselves, as I have. It’s important for women to be forward thinkers and get out of their comfort zones.

A female icon you look up to.

Michelle Obama! I love how she carries herself with grace and the impact she has made in the world. Let’s not forget her amazing sense of style — it’s so elegant yet chic. She is women empowerment at its best!

Safiya Abdallah

A California girl of North African and Mexican heritage and modest-inclusive fashion designer of Dulce by Safiya

How would you describe your personal style?

I would say I love minimalistic vibes that are classic, with an edge.

In what ways is fashion an outlet of creative expression?

I believe my outlet is my brand and every time I walk out of the house, I am depicting that brand — not that I’m always switched on. As a mom of four, I find it hard to always look put-together, but even when I’m having an off day, I still suit up to battle the day and I feel it has a huge impact on my mindset. I also love sharing things I view as beautiful or funny — anything I find that can help my followers to relate to me on some level.

What makes social media the ideal platform to spread the message of the hijab as an empowering symbol?

Social media has become this vortex or another world where we connect with people we normally wouldn’t come across. It’s easier to find more like-minded individuals.

How do you inspire the young women who follow you?

By being as good a role model to them as possible, and if they need actual support or advice, I’m always ready to help!

Mehreen Mughal

A British-Pakistani-Kenyan professional makeup artist with a knack for fashion and editorial beauty, and bridal makeup

How would you describe your personal style and aesthetic?

My personal style is either super relaxed or elegant and chic — there’s no in-between. My aesthetic is more eccentric and vibrant, which reflects my passion for art and makeup.

In what ways is fashion an outlet of creative expression for you?

It gives me freedom to experiment with textures and patterns. I also feel I can express my personality and mood through fashion. I love to share my passion for creativity through makeup, particularly fashion and editorial style makeup.

What makes social media the ideal platform to spread the message of the hijab as an empowering symbol?

It is ideal because it’s just that — a platform to connect with people from all over. The power it holds is immense, so showing the world that my hijab does not stop me from achieving my goals can have a positive impact.

How do you hope to inspire the young women who follow you?

I hope to encourage youngsters to work hard, never give up and never stop learning.

Name a female icon you look up to.

There are so many to name, however, one that stands out recently is, Halima Aden. Her story of how she made her way into the modelling industry is amazing. What truly inspires me is how she made the decision to leave the industry due to it clashing with her religious beliefs. There is an immense amount of strength in that — taking back ownership of her hijab and modesty, is powerful.





 
 
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