Muslim women wear Abaya as a symbol and sign of protection and modesty. It is usually black long maxi dress that serves as cover for women from head to toe. Recently, this traditional dress has witnessed evolutionary changes.
Time has changed since Abaya has transformed into a fashion symbol vis-a-vis its cultural and religious purpose. Currently, Abayas come in variety of designs along with different fabulous and eye catching crystal colors. The epicenter of this rising trend is of course gulf countries. Fortunately, this trend is diffusing in Europe’s fashion circle as well and masses are accepting it.
European fashion labels have started embracing Muslim fashion. Evidently, a fashion show held in George V hotel Paris in summer of 2009 showcased models wearing couture Abayas. Europe’s top fashion labels including John Galliano and Blumarine also participated in the event.
Apparently, the European designers and retailers are waking up to the fact that Muslim women are as interested in fashion as any other women. They recognize the importance of very lucrative and as yet virtually untapped market. This has ensured a wider availability of fashionable Muslim clothes especially abaya in many European markets.
European Fashion designers along with their gulf counter parts have made variety of changes in the Abaya. For instance, there is rising trend of fancy hijab known as jilbab. This Abaya in long shirt have yellow ribbon like a belt and have yellow lace border. These types of Fancy Abaya designs are frequently embellished in western countries as Islamic cultural dress.
Moreover, like Western-style fashion, Abayas are designed for different occasions as well as different times of the day. Abayas for normal daytime wear are usually plain or have simple designs.
Similarly, Abayas for evening wear are more elaborate, with different cuts and intricate designs.
Abayas for special occasions such as weddings and Eid are so exquisite that they almost look like black gowns. Diamante, Swarovski crystals, leather, lace, denim and fur-Abayas are laden with everything imaginable. Interestingly, women can even get sporty Abayas.
However, this trend also comes with a backlash from Gulf countries especially UAE who think that there is an emergence of designers that strip the Abaya from its true purpose such as covering up and guarding the body in front of God and prying eyes. Resultantly, over the past decade, the ‘Abaya’ has become the subject of international conversations.
Emirati women designers have found their calling in expressing themselves through the ‘Abaya’ in distinctive designs. They re-defined the ‘Abaya’ while keeping it within traditional measures.
Some designers have created ‘Abayas’ that are sheer, tight, and extenuate a woman’s body eliminating the whole purpose. These newly designed ‘Abayas’ are influenced by pop culture and imported European fashion trends.
In short, Abayas have been subjected to evolutionary changes. There is increasing number of designers who have experimented with its designs. Owing to this rising trend in Abaya and embracing of Muslim dressing code by many fashion designers in Europe, Abayas have earned their own values.