PARIS – August 31, 2008 – It can be strange for fashion writers like me, who are used to visit the world’s fashion capitals ( New York, London, Milan and Paris) sometimes to witness that fashion weeks do happen in different cultures, under different latitudes.
Of course not all of them have the same impact on the world scene, and every season, we chose to cover some “extra” fashion capital, like Barcelona this season for instance, to discover new talent, and get some fresh air, which is sometimes very much needed when you are a fashion veteran in the circuit.
So, I guess all of us do get press releases promoting various fashion weeks around the planet. We all know about Sao paulo , Tokyo, which are actually becoming bigger and more important these years. We know also of some difficultuies to organize fashion weeks in the continent of Africa, where South Africa, and particularly Capetown and Johannesburg are doing their best to put the continent on the world map of fashion. There is also the odd or strange edition of, for instance, Athens Fashion Week last year, the not yet extremely interesting Moscow Fashion Week, the secluded Seul Fashion week, etc…
But, if you look at the pictures we have received and which I am here publishing, courtesy of image.net, nothing on the field of “international” fashion weeks is quite like the event organized in Jakarta 9 days ago.
On the first day of the first Festival Mode Indonesia and Jakarta Fashion Week 2008, the organizers have gathered six specifically “Muslim” designers ( Monika Jufry, Merry Pramono, Jeny Tjahyawati, Anne Rufaidah, Fenny Mustafa, Hannie Hananto) for a runway show… on a special event called “APPMI” to bring together the ethnic riches of the archipelago of Idonesia. Bring together, but not mix! And this is where, both ideologically and aesthetically, I have started to question myself about some paradoxes.
Honestly, I did not think a Muslim runway show could exist and my feelings towards this new event are mixed. My firts reaction is : how can you want to hide women, their hair, their body, their curves and still be a fashion designer ? In my eyes, fashion is not first here to conceal but to reveal, to enhance, to make more beautiful, and in some muslim sensitivities at least, it seems that the garment is here to erase the body, to hide the personality, to reserve its beauty to a very private sexual usage only.
Now, I must admit that , no matter what I thought about the designs, which are not yet at international level it must bne admitted, this collective runway hsow of Indonesian muslim designers, probably represents a big step forward. Putting women, even clothed women, on display on a catwalk, is rather unusual in the islamic tradition, isn’t it?
So, I would like to ask you -our dear readers- to react also to these photos shown in this article and share your views. maybe one of you can explain the paradoxes in the muslim culture about beauty. i think it would be very helpful to us all.
On last thing I wanted to mention here; one of the main sponsors for this fashion week is Sunsilk… I guess they were very happy to witness the kind of image these pictures show about beautiful hair styled with Sunsilk products under the veil! Should we encourage or boycott, should Sunsilk and the Femina press group sponsor this kind of event? Feel free to tell what you think in the comments below…
JEAN PAUL CAUVIN