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Although seemingly more plain-jane, this outfit checks all my necessary boxes. Clean, crisp and stark, all at once. A contour-er of contrast if you will, the inspiration for this shoot stemmed solely from opting to focus on external compositions. With the Aga Khan museum at our disposal, exhibiting Islamic art on an international scale, I chose to enhance this idea of cultural preservation and conservation. The way of dress throughout the religious practice of Islam is ultimately a display of uniformity; the all black abaya and niqāb symbolic of the ruling, prestige and status, and tradition.

You may be wondering why this has anything to do with my post on classic pieces, capable of withstanding structure and fabrication season-to-season. In recent years, it has become accustom for Islamic women to adapt a more Westernized way of dress underneath their abaya; an act of maintaining that sacred individualization. I first learned this while becoming close friends with a girl from Saudi in my Parsons class, where we discussed the means of singular manifestation. Of course while in New York, she was adept to wearing garments that were so much as a contradition of sorts to her customary routine; she, herself, reciting that she’s constant with a more ‘punk’ look away from her homeland for the very reason punk was adopted into mainstream light: rebellion. She went on to say how the majority of women in Saudi are quite bold with their textile choices underneath it all, opting for bright colours and prints. Again, this idea of opposition resurfaced and I became perplexed with the orderly, clean external integument that housed such vibrant life residing unveiled among its intimate walls.

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This is an excerpt from the article Contrast & Culture: Unveiled which originally appeared on