On one of the holiest nights of Ramadan, Marwa Atik chose a crowded Southern California mosque to debut her latest creation.
It was just after midnight when the 20-year-old walked into the Islamic Center of Irvine, dressed in a long, flowing burgundy robe, her head wrapped in a charcoal-colored chiffon hijab, trimmed with decorative gold zippers.
After the group prayers, sermon and Koran recitation, a woman approached Atik, gesturing at the scarf. “OK, I want one,” she said excitedly. “How can I get it?”
Atik has taken the Muslim head scarf, often known as hijab, and turned it into a canvas for her fashion sensibilities, with ideas inspired by designs from Forever 21 and H&M as well as haute couture runways and the pages of Vogue and Elle. Showing her latest design at a mosque was her way of gauging sentiment on scarves that go beyond the limited fashion realm they have thus far inhabited, such as floral and geometric prints or lace and beaded embellishments.
This has, not surprisingly, caused a stir among more traditional American Muslims, and re-invigorated an old debate about what modesty entails. I wrote more about that part of this story at GetReligion.