ALIA KHAN TALKS MODEST STYLE, SUSTAINABILITY AND FUSING FASHION AND FAITH
In her role as founder and chairwoman of the Islamic Fashion and Design Council (IFDC), an organisation established to further the development of the Islamic fashion and design industry worldwide, Alia Khan is leading the charge in the modest fashion movement.
“I sometimes wonder if people really understand what the term modest actually means,” says Canadian-Pakistani Alia. “For me, I’ve chosen to partake in that lifestyle because it empowers me; it frees me. I feel like I don’t have the pressure of having to show my body to prove something.”
And it is this life choice that sees her turn to various regional labels for her day-to-day wardrobe essentials, modest-driven brands that cater to her love of understated, yet unexpected, fashion. “I’m a fan of something being different, but fitting exactly in the modesty category, because it’s not breaking any of the rules,” she explains. “That’s what I love about modest dressing – you don’t need to be overstated to make a statement.”
An avid believer and practitioner of upcycling fashion, Alia also looks to designer Ann Taylor and Dubai-based store ReTold for pre-loved pieces and vintage finds, urging others to follow suit and re-use looks that “already exist without having to compel the industry to make more,” she explains.
This passion and drive, paired with a unique understanding of how one can take modesty and make it their own, is something that has been passed down for generations within the Khan family and for Alia, whose upbringing took place in America, sparked a lust and yearning to connect with her Islamic heritage.
“I always felt that there was something very romantic about getting back in touch with my roots, and now I get to demonstrate the most stylish side of what it means to be a Muslim woman, and the most open-minded elements of Islam, all within my work,” she says.
“My grandmother was one of the most stylish Muslim women I have known. She was extremely fashionable, and yet she didn’t compromise on her faith-based principles. I think she gave me this fun sense for dressing, one that she passed down to my mother, who followed in her footsteps, and today, is one of the most stylish women you’ll ever meet. These are women who take pride in who they are, and represent it well.”
CLICK THROUGH FOR ALIA’S STYLE NOTES…
FAVOURITE GIFT TO GIVE OR RECEIVE: “I love it when I discover a great scarf, as I think they’re quite difficult for the Islamic or modest fashionista to find. We love scarves that can be friendly with every outfit and get along with everything we wear. So if someone can find me a reversible scarf, then that is perfect.” | Scarf, Gucci
GO-TO MODEST DESIGNERS: “I love the new brand Lamace, and also Ehtiros - the colours and style are very vibrant and chic." | Dress, Lamace
BAG BRAND INVESTMENT: “Amanda Navai. She designs beautiful pieces and she also has this really great way of understanding women and knowing how to create pieces that really cater to the range of different women out there. Close your eyes and pick any bag of hers - you can’t go wrong.” | Bag, Amanda Navai
STYLE ETHOS: “These days I’m very big about getting behind rental clothing and used clothing, as I think these shops that do second-hand or vintage clothes are just treasures. Recently I’ve been going to ReTold in Al Barsha. You can find so many gems and I think we need to start seeing the value in places like this.” | ReTold Boutique
JEWELLERY EDIT: "I’m always begging designers to think of us women who don’t pierce our ears. So I’m always looking for beautiful clip-on earrings and they’re still so hard to find." | Earrings, Oscar de la Renta at Net-a-Porter
ABAYA BUY: “I love Talabaya. She’s a Czech designer who’s becoming a huge favourite in Saudi and she’s been picked up by some major stores in the region. She’s got this eclectic flair and what she’s doing has rarely been seen, in terms of how she incorporates her sense of style from a European perspective and makes it so likeable for the Middle Eastern audience too.” | Dress, Talabaya
SHOE EDIT: "If you want to get all dressed up, then it’s got to be Christian Louboutin. It’s an amazing shoe brand for glamorous occasions.” | Shoes, Christian Louboutin
IFTAR OUTFIT: “Definitely a kaftan - something long, flowy and comfortable. That one effortless piece that can just really pick you up with the vivaciousness of the colour, or the chicness of the design, without feeling like you have to make an effort.” | Dress, Ingie Paris at FarFetch
BEAUTY PICK-ME-UP: “Great lip colour. As soon as I put on an amazing lip colour, my entire face looks different. All I need is that one item and it just does the trick.” | Dior Addict Stellar Shine in Glazed
ENDURING SCENT: “Patchouli is my favourite scent. It’s the most romantic fragrance and by default it makes you fall in love.” | Amber & Patchouli fragrance, Jo Malone