high fashion hijabs are getting a massive museum exhibition

San Francisco's de Young Museum is following up its Gaultier and YSL retrospectives with a very timely exploration of Islamic dress.

by Hannah Ongley
27 December 2016, 6:10pm

Unless you've been living/hiding under a rock this year, you've probably heard a fair bit about hijabs. The controversial headscarf, worn by some Muslim women for religious reasons, has found itself at the center of the western cultural consciousness over the past few months for reasons both good and not-so-good. French mayors banned Islam-friendly burkinis on public beaches, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for a partial burqa ban, Dolce & Gabbana and Uniqlo launched hijab collections, Yves Saint Laurent co-founder Pierre Bergé offered his own two cents, and America got its first fully covered Miss Minnesota USA contestant. Unfortunately, America also elected an Islamophobic Twitter troll as the next leader of the free world — in turn prompting some Muslim women to abandon the hijab for their own public safety. 

So it's not altogether shocking that America is now getting a museum exhibition dedicated to Islamic fashion. The Fashion of Islam will be unveiled at San Francisco's de Young Museum in the fall of 2018, marking the stateside debut of a theme few other museums around the world have covered. As the New York Times noted yesterday, Australia recently explored Islamic apparel by hosting the traveling exhibition Faith, Fashion, Fusion. Max Hollein, the de Young's new director, explained to the Times, "There are probably people who don't even think there is fashion in Islam. But if you look at Saudi Arabia, Dubai, and Beirut, the fashion is really vibrant, and it can speak to larger political and social developments, cultural understanding, and misunderstandings."

The de Young show will include Dolce & Gabbana's first hijabs, along with similar garments by Islamic and European designers such as Iman Aldebe and Hussein Chalayan. Islamic streetwear and sportswear will also be exhibited, while another section of the show will focus on historic and traditional examples of Islamic dress. This is the latest in a series of excellent fashion-themed exhibitions at the de Young, including retrospectives of Oscar de la Renta, Yves Saint Laurent, and Jean Paul Gaultier. The YSL and Gaultier shows were two of the most popular the museum has ever hosted, each drawing almost 300,000 guests through the de Young's doors. Something tells us The Fashion of Islam will also be garnering quite a bit of attention. 


Text Hannah Ongley

Images Dolce & Gabbana via Style.com/Arabia

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