New York Fashion Week embraced the hijab, and it was stunning

High fashion hijabs.
High fashion hijabs.
Image: Getty Images/Frazer Harrison
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The hijab—the head covering donned by many Muslim women in public—isn’t typically considered synonymous with high fashion, especially in the western world. But times are changing.

Hijabs were spotted high and low at New York Fashion Week, on the catwalk and in the street style of attendees. The event featured its first show of hijabs worn with every every outfit. Indonesian Muslim designer Anniesa Hasibuan showcased her collection—inspired by her hometown Jarkarta—of colorful silk and velvet tunics, kimonos and gowns.

The audience on Sept. 12 at Moynihan Station showered Hasibuan with a standing ovation after the show’s finale.

Vogue included hijab-clad women in its roundup of the best street style spotted at NYFW. And the growing contingent of hijabi fashion bloggers took to Instagram to document their NYFW experiences.

Melanie Elturk, CEO of modest fashion line Haute Hijab and a prolific hijabi Instagrammer, described her emotional reaction to Hasibuan’s NYFW debut on Instagram: “Many believe fashion is frivolous and devoid of meaning…I believe fashion is one of the outlets in which we can start that cultural shift in today’s society to normalize hijab in America, break down stereotypes and demystify misconceptions.”

Modest fashion is taking hold among conventional retailers like Uniqlo, which launched a modest fashion collection last year. Muslims spent $266 billion on clothing and footwear in 2013, a number that is expected to nearly double by 2019. Modeling agencies are following suit with “modest models,” helping to challenge conventional notions of feminism and style.