Karen Walker – Revives the Head Scarf for Mainstream Fashion

Karen Walker Headscarves have been in style for decades: think Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly and Jackie Kennedy. More recently, designer Karen Walker showcased 1940s Rosie the Riveter-inspired headscarves in her spring 2012 show, and Vivienne Westwood and Lie Sang Bong both favored the 1960s triangular headscarves in their 2012 collections. But headscarves are more than a fashion accessory for millions of women around the world. Muslim women who wear the headscarf known as a hijab do so for religious reasons. Now, the creator of the American Hijab Design Contest is trying to extend the hijab beyond the Muslim population, and help build a following for a fashion trend she calls “covered chic.” “The scope of covered chic fashion far exceeds the Muslim population,” says Shaz Kaiseruddin, 31, a human rights attorney based in Chicago and the creator of the contest. “A hijab is as American as blue jeans.” Kaiseruddin hopes to build support for an “American hijab,” a headscarf that can have as many styles in a nation as diverse as America. And she hopes to shake up the belief that the hijab, and Muslims, are foreign to America, and show that headscarves are fashion accessories anyone—regardless of faith—can play with in their wardrobes. Nzinga Knight, an American fashion designer and a practicing Muslim, agrees. “The notion of covering the hair because of religion is so ancient,” she says. Knight, who presented her spring/summer 2013 collection at New York Fashion Week in September, is known for her modest, elegant clothes. Her collection features opulent gowns with long sleeves and flowing skirts. Matching headscarves complete the outfits. She says she designs for women “who respect their bodies and find modesty to be beautiful and glamorous.” “Our form of dressing is a way of communicating [modesty] to others,” says Knight. Women should reflect their beliefs in the ways they dress, she says. “I see dishonesty in women who dress provocatively, but say they want to be known for their brains.” Knight and Kaiseruddin agree that covering up is not a sign of oppression, but of freedom of choice. “Fashion can break down barriers and make the unfamiliar familiar,” says Kaiseruddin. “I’m confident that we, as a nation, will move towards a broader definition of what beauty looks like, a broader definition of what American fashion looks like, and a broader definition of what an American looks like.” source: Wall Street Journal

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