The Underwraps agency’s founder, New York fashion designer Nailah Lymus, says ‘being modest isn’t just a Muslim concept’
If the guests atttending the Stella McCartney party are anything to go by, then flesh will feature prominently in London fashion week. If so it will be a far cry from one fashion show in New York last week, which coincided with the launch of a new agency for Muslim models. Could the trend for modest couture catch on here?
Underwraps is the brainchild of fashion designer Nailah Lymus, a 28-year-old American-born Muslim who believes that Muslim models shouldn’t feel obliged to compromise on covering up. The agency will ensure its models won’t have to wear revealing outfits.
Lymus, from Brooklyn, New York, says: “Being modest isn’t just a Muslim concept; it crosses many religions and cultures. Beautiful women who have always wanted to venture on to the catwalk but have declined because of their beliefs now have a chance.”
Underwraps currently represents three models, who appeared at Lymus’s own show and were sent to castings during New York fashion week. Two of them have been signed by a bridal boutique opening in London this year.
So far, US Glamour and online magazine Fashionista.com have commended Lymus’s attempts to diversify the modelling industry.
According to Bethania Matheus, director of BM Models agency in Brighton, an increase in faith-based fashion has led to a demand for Muslim models internationally – she has received inquiries from designers looking to cast Muslim models, and applications from Muslims wanting to become models. “Modesty appeals to millions. Photographers shouldn’t have issues with models who are specific about what they will and won’t do – this could be a great opportunity for very creative shoots.”
British Muslim model Shanna Bukhari, who was criticised by some Muslim organisations when she appeared in Miss Universe last year, says: “This is something I would definitely sign up for. I’ve turned down work after being told to compromise my modesty so if a model has the option not to reveal too much skin, then it’s perfect.”
Some fashion followers are more sceptical. Jana Kossaibati, who runs the Muslim fashion blog Hijab Style , says: “I don’t think the way forward is simply to create the hijab-clad version of Claudia Schiffer. That reduces Islamic beliefs to the superficial.”