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The Abaya Gets the High-End Treatment

Posted on Jul 23, 2009
abaya show

In late June, French President Nicolas Sarkozy made it clear that he’s no fan of the burqa, calling the concealing garment worn by some Muslim women a symbol of “subservience.” But right around that same time, a fashion show consisting of only abayas, the requisite attire of Saudi women, hit the runway in Paris.

Vanity Fair:

Abayas, typically black and usually unadorned, are required garb for all women in Saudi Arabia. Saks Fifth Avenue in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia’s capital city, cleverly saw this as a business opportunity: Along with selling Western-style clothing, why not offer options for the covering as well, thought the store’s general manager, Dania Tarhini. She enlisted a crop of well-known designers such as Carolina Herrera and Dior’s John Galliano to create their own take on the garment. In an interview with the Associated Press, Tarhini admitted that she encountered difficulties in convincing some of the designers to participate. Considering the beautiful results, Saudi women should be grateful she persevered.

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By Sepharad, July 29, 2009 at 11:37 pm Link to this comment

Fashion is a little behind the times. For at least six or seven years, in this country and others not legally policed for the dress code, gorgeous young Moslem women have been wearing abayas and scarves and other variations that emphasize their bodies rather than hide them. Sitting on the campus where our son teaches, there were a number of beautiful young women in skin tight long garments and tight scarves framing their lovely faces complete with exotic jewelry. Go to a museum opening in San Francisco or Calgary or Chicago and you see the whole array of stunning clothes available to the Moslem woman in addition to the ones we’re used to looking at in Afghanistan and other religious countries. There are usually one or two women in the face and eye-grid top to toe loose hijabs women are forced to wear to avoid seducing poor susceptible men, more in loose robes and head covering, Indian-style but looser over baggy pants, teachers and professional women with hair covered and long fitted coats and stiletto heels ... This is everything from devout religious behavior to lip service to cleverly turning the intent on its head and looking, covered by skintight, about as seductive as any less-covered Western woman.  Some of the Western women at these events are wearing the kind of abayas shown in the photographs with this article.

I think the Moslem women in all but the very strictest societies have got the men and the mullahs figured out. My hat (if I wore one) would be off to them! Saudi women I’ve interviewed say they get the finest silks and other luxurious fabrices for their voluminous robes (if their husbands are strict) and modest blouses and slacks if hubby is a modern kind of sheik or merchant. But whether covered traditional modest or modern but covered up, the ones who were wealth said they order the most expensive, custommade lingerie (which theoretically no one but their husbands ever see).

The spirit is free, and when blocked, people—especially women, who’ve been subordinated to severe social strictures are gonna find a way around them, or how to make them work for them.

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By NYCartist, July 28, 2009 at 10:58 am Link to this comment

I think some women (not Muslim) will wear the clothing (if there’s inexpensive copies) because they are beautiful clothes.  I’d be tempted.

It’s is getting common to see women in Manhattan wearing the moderate priced versions from all over the regions of the Middle East.  I went online to figure
out who is wearing what in different countries and had a hard time.  Can anyone help?

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By Spiritgirl, July 27, 2009 at 1:58 pm Link to this comment

As the abayas or burqa is supposed to be about the modesty (of the woman) one wonders as beautiful as these may be, will the women be allowed to wear these as they will bring attention to the woman in question, thereby rendering null & void the reason for the abaya/burqa in the first place?

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By Ed Harges, July 27, 2009 at 12:47 pm Link to this comment

I would think that with such limited lifetime exposure to the sun, Saudi women must have gorgeously youthful skin well into old age — as well as some serious osteoporosis issues owing to low vitamin D levels, of course.

Oh well. Maybe having gorgeous, healthy skin and brittle bones is no worse than having leathery, cancer-prone skin and strong bones. Getting old sucks no matter what you do!

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By omop, July 27, 2009 at 8:06 am Link to this comment


Original… revolutionary…...yknot… on.

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By ballerina, July 27, 2009 at 2:48 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

wouldn’t it be a hoot if all western women came to wear headscarves in solidarity with muslim women?

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By expat in germany, July 27, 2009 at 2:26 am Link to this comment
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Some years ago, while dining in a Middle Eastern restaurant in the Midwest, my sister couldn’t help but comment to the waitress about how beautiful she was. The waitress looked very flustered, and then shyly and quietly answered, “Thank you, but I’m not supposed to look beautiful.”

I thought of this when I read the article on designer abayas, because I believe that most women choose to look beautiful if not prevented from doing so by a patriarchal ruling class with deeply ambivalent ideas about women, beauty, and sexuality.

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By Paracelsus, July 25, 2009 at 6:53 pm Link to this comment

Here it is:

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By Paracelsus, July 25, 2009 at 6:45 pm Link to this comment

Has anybody heard of Enoch Powell? I saw a BBC documentary about him.

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By Paracelsus, July 25, 2009 at 11:35 am Link to this comment

I think European self loathing is getting out of hand.

The French philosopher Alain Finkielkraut thinks that “Europe does not love itself.” He says that it’s not forces from outside that are threatening Europe as much as the voluntary renunciation of European identity, its wish of freeing itself from its own history and traditions, only replaced by human rights. The EU isn’t just post-national; it’s post-European.
Next to the EU, the most dangerous people are the Leftists all over the Western world who are waging a Jihad to destroy their own civilization and have teamed up with Muslims to achieve this goal. Unlike neo-Nazis, these people are not only far more numerous but socially accepted and disproportionately represented in the media and the education system, where they systematically silence “racist” dissenters by destroying their livelihoods and reputations. They use an imaginary “far-Right” threat to crush people they don’t like.
According to Dr Aidan Rankin, “anti-Fascism” is the new Fascism. The so-called anti-racists and Multiculturalists are aggressors with totalitarian leanings; the people they unfairly attack are victims of a failed social experiment and one of the greatest betrayals in history:

  “Progressives (as they invariably call themselves) use accusations of racism and fascism as excuses to bully and oppress impoverished white communities and isolate them in racially based ghettos. For white liberals, anti-racism becomes a form of auto-racism, directed at members of their own race who are deemed to be socially inferior. It is, in other words, a new type of snobbery and social exclusion […]. Their ideology allows for no concern for individuals, except for attack or denunciation. This contempt for the individual, the white, male worker in particular, allows the anti-fascist to reconcile two contradictory demands - for civil disobedience (including violence) and for the massive extension of state power […]. [They operate] by appealing to more basic psychological impulses of fear, envy and hatred. Anti-fascism shares with its alleged opposite a belief in the cleansing or redemptive power of violence. They share as well an obsessive preoccupation with race.”

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By omop, July 25, 2009 at 10:19 am Link to this comment

Would not a real, down to earth dude be more seduced to desiring to “look” at what a Abaya covers than just what does not cover 60% cleavage of a females and a 98% “crotch cover?”

  And Sarkozy still pretends to be an “egalite, fraternite, liberte” kinda guy.

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By Paolo, July 24, 2009 at 6:00 pm Link to this comment

I just spent a week in Munich, Germany. I was a little surprised at the number of Muslim men and women there.

But guess what? Every one of them spoke German very well. They were all very polite. Many of the Muslim women wore burqas or shawls. So what? Who is harmed by women choosing to dress modestly?

Not a single bomber in the whole group. No one tried to hide weapons under their burqas. They were just trying to get along in their new country, and seemingly doing a pretty good job of it.

I think the fashion show Abayas are rather stunning. I’m not sure they’d pass in Saudi Arabia, but who knows?

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By Political Insurgent, July 24, 2009 at 7:11 am Link to this comment

KICKASS! Those designs look fabulous. I’m shocked that France be so backward and so avant garde at the same time.

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