Halima Aden Embraced More-Is-More Modesty Dressing for Cannes
Somali-American model Halima Aden is on a personal mission: to prove that modest fashion and playful fashion are not mutually exclusive terms. “In the beginning of my career, I was like, ‘Let’s just pair a black or white turtleneck with everything,’” Aden shared with Vogue last week, from a hotel room in Midtown Manhattan, where she sat on a cream-colored couch whilst clad in a colorful Richard Quinn gown with latex gloves worn underneath. There, among multiple racks of poppy runway pieces, Aden and stylist Jason Rembert strategically combed through potential looks for an approaching trip to Cannes Film Festival. On display: a visual buffet of Gucci, Prozena Schouler, Valentino, and other top brands, with pieces carefully layered with precision and delicacy. There were no throwaway black or white turtlenecks in sight.
At this stage in her career, Aden no longer has to jerry-rig luxury fashion to fit her values and personal comfort. It’s the other way around. “I want what I wear to look intentional,” Aden said. “We’re living in a different time. And just because someone dresses more conservatively it doesn’t mean that they don’t want to take risks when it comes to fashion.”
Those risks were well-executed throughout the film festival. The model, who recently returned to the spotlight after a three-year break, adopted a more-is-more approach for her time abroad. There’s a black-and-white Proenza Schouler suit that features voluminous, almost three-dimensional, sleeves (perfectly completed with a white hijab). A campy lime-green Valentino gown, which Aden wore to the AmFar Gala, decorated with a gazillion feathers (“I feel like Cannes is the place to wear feathers,” Rembert said.) A boxy, power-broker Vauthier suit for the airport. “I hope our red carpet looks inspires people to be more adventurous when it comes to style,” Aden said of her carefully planned Cannes style story.
Brands are taking note. Aden says that labels are now creating custom adaptations and hijabs to make looks align with her comfort. “I think people are now realizing modest fashion can be lucrative because there’s a need,” Aden said. “Modest women want to see what’s on the runway and have that be adapted to what they wear.”Aden shared an inspiring illustration of this ongoing embrace of inclusion by top brands: “My Gucci dress, they’re also going to make a custom hijab to go with it,” she shared. “That’s one of the big changes I’m welcoming.”
The modest fashion market is estimated to be one of the fastest-growing segments in the industry and worth over $283 billion. Muslim consumers have voiced frustrations in their ability to meaningfully partake in the luxury fashion sector, as highlighted by Vogue Business. Rembert, who began working with Aden this year after they met at an Oscars event, says serving modest women is not a hard task. It just requires thought and communication. “Conservative fashion today are couture dreams,” the stylist, who also leads the luxury brand Aliette, said. “When you look at courtiers, a lot of their fashion is conservative fashion. They have identity and personality.”
Change is afoot. Aden was not alone in her personality-filled approach to conservative dressing on the red carpet. Fellow model Rawdah Mohammed turned heads on at the premiere La Passion De Dodin Bouffant, where she wore a “scorched bride” dress by designer Robert Wun, the outfit’s “burnt” veil operating in harmony with her hijab.
For her part, Aden is excited about what the future holds for conservative dressers everywhere. “I do get messages from young girls all over the world that say, ‘you make modesty so cool,’” she said. “I think that’s such a compliment.”
Originally Appeared on Vogue
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