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New York Designer Moves Islamic Fashion Forward

"I want women to feel so feminine and glamorous and beautiful," says fashion designer Nzinga Knight.
"I want women to feel so feminine and glamorous and beautiful," says fashion designer Nzinga Knight.
By Courtney Brooks
NEW YORK -- Fashion designer Nzinga Knight is in a business that usually leaves little to the imagination.

But in a city where cleavage and short hemlines hold sway, her modest designs have grabbed New York's attention.

Knight is turning on its head any perception that Islamic dress is intended to hide a woman's beauty.

"I want women to feel so feminine and glamorous and beautiful," she says. "And I want them to feel confident when they're wearing the clothes. I want them to feel sensual and sexy, and, you know, all of those things. And I want them to feel comfortable."

Her second and most recent clothing line, which features vibrantly colored, flowing, and often curve-hugging dresses, debuted at New York Fashion Week in September. Her models held their own as they strode alongside more skimpily dressed women.

Knight's parents, who are from Guyana and the island of Trinidad in the Caribbean, converted to Islam after they moved to New York as young adults. She says her style comes out of her Caribbean roots and the "fresh and cosmopolitan" dress of New Yorkers -- not to mention growing up as one of six fashion-savvy sisters.

PHOTO GALLERY: Designs from Knight's first two collections


Her choice to dress modestly -- and design for women with the same values -- is not only about faith.

"I value coverage. I'm informed about it from the point of view of Islam," Knight says, "but I embrace it from my own values about what that actually does for a woman. It elevates her."

A "misconception" about Islamic fashion, she says, is that it is designed only for Muslims. She says her customers come from all faiths and nationalities, and that many of them are luminaries, which makes sense given her clothes' price tags. Blouses and skirts start at $365 and gowns range from $1,200 to $3,500. New York socialites are common customers, Knight says.

Her first collection is sold at high-end stores in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and she says she regularly receives inquires from women in Malaysia, Pakistan, and other Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian countries.

Acknowledging that the items are too expensive for most women, Knight hopes to create a more affordable line once she is more established. She also hopes to make her clothes more available throughout the Islamic world.

Knight's visionary designs are part of a growing trend.

Muslim designer Barjis Chohan told Britain's "The Guardian" that Islamic fashion represents a $96 billion global industry. A New York modeling agency for Muslim models, called Underwraps, held its first show in September. And Medni Kadyrova, the wife of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, owns her own fashion house that offers modern Islamic designs for Muslim women.

Knight says her mission is personal: to foster a greater respect and appreciation for the female figure.

"These clothes enable that sense of somebody actually looking at you in praise or in awe, as opposed to looking at you as, you know, a piece of meat because they're seeing all your skin," she says.
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by: Sey from: World
November 05, 2012 05:48
There is no "sensual and sexy" in Islam. Islamic dress is about modesty and decency when clothing, both to please God and to keep moral values. Fashion and fashion shows are a display of indecency, banality, and consumerism. They go against everything that the Islam stands for.

Thus, the idea of "Muslim fashion" is not only contradictory to the teachings of Islam, but is an insult to Islam.

The reason these things are held is because some Muslims are subconscious about their own faith and have no self-respect, as they are desperate to say to the West "Look, we can be modern too. We are just like you." And that is just disgraceful.

With so many fake Muslims destroying Islam...and then you ask yourself why Wahabbism is spreading so fast.


In Response

by: Jorjo from: Florida
November 06, 2012 02:36
Sey nailed it, can't be said better. Same goes for the so called "Islamic" fashion shows promoted by Kadyrov(a) in Chechnya and other similar pitiful attempts to promote Western values under Islamic disguise.
In Response

by: nawras marweni from: tunisia
November 10, 2012 10:43
what you say is all true and very that there some peaple respect the islam and understand that some peaple what to tell the world that muslms are hurrior and i raelly like the dresses so much espacionlly the colours

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