The upcoming student-led Islamic Fashion Show will bring together members of the Hobart and William Smith community and beyond to celebrate an evening of Islamic cultural heritage through authentic clothing and traditional dance.
The fashion show, which will also feature a segment dedicated to Indonesian dance, will take place on Wednesday, Nov. 4 at 7 p.m. in the Vandervort Room of the Scandling Campus Center.
Associate Professor and Chair of Religious Studies Etin Anwar, who is advising the students, says that foundational to the fashion show itself is the understanding that Islamic garb is culturally specific, departing from a common Western assumption that a veil is political.
“To highlight the veil as a cultural project, I have chosen a specific fabric, called songket,” Anwar says. “Songket is made through a weaving process and is usually embellished with metallic threads. Originally, the aristocrats in Southeast Asia, especially from Indonesia, wore songket for special ceremonies. Nowadays, songket is available in traditional and modern markets in Indonesia.”
Anwar says that the songket for the show will be fashioned with a “modern flair.” In all, 12 designs ranging from formal and casual garb to party dresses will be presented. All the clothing for the show is made and managed by Modish, a website dedicated to Islamic fashion.
“I have been fortunate to be able to share my passion for songket with HWS students and the community,” says Anwar, who adds that she owns a songket dress she made while living in Bali. “We use what we made from the songket as a teaching moment and a collaborative project.”
She says, “I am truly grateful to be in a place where respect for cultural diversity is honored.”
During the event, Inung Noti and Nia Trijono, two dancers from Washington, D.C., will showcase Indonesian dances from Lampung, a province in Sumatra. Both Noti and Trijono will don garments made of songket.
Anwar says that songket garb is used during performances and weddings. She says the two dresses presented during the upcoming dance associate closely with those worn during weddings.
Students taking the course, “Gender and Islam” and members of the HWS student group Project Nur are working together to organize the show. Members of “Introduction to Islamic Religious Traditions” class are also volunteering. Other HWS students have also volunteered to model for the show.
“With the help of Aleem Mohammad ’19, we are running a very tight schedule as we try to incorporate Professor Anwar’s vision of this event,” says Rayan Khan ’15, the show’s manager. “The goal of this event is to illustrate the richness and diversity of Islamic culture that exists outside of the Middle East by drawing inspiration from the world’s largest Muslim country (in terms of population), Indonesia.”
The show is sponsored by the Office of the Provost, Intercultural Affairs, the Religious Studies Department, Asian Studies Department, the Young Memorial Trust for International Peace and Understanding and Global Aliya Indonesia Foundation.
“The fashion show will act as a way to educate and generate interest in the Islamic culture,” says Max Jones ’18, vice president of the HWS Democrats who is publicizing the show. “Working on the event has been enjoyable due to the great people that are behind the show.”
The event is free and donations will be accepted for a number of causes during the event.