“The age of
men is over” –Gothmog, Lord of the Rings. Ok, so he was an orc talking about
the demise of hobbits and elves, but he had the right idea.
status of British Muslims could be described as “a little bit rubbish”. Our
patriarchal communities, led and dominated by men, are not working. We’ve been
in this country since the 1950s and haven’t managed to be successful yet. It’s
time for Muslim women to break free from the shackles of their back seat roles. It’s
time to unfasten those back seat belts, buss open the safety locks and start
driving the car.
designer who has seen the “Muslim fashion scene” blow up (#PunIntended) in the
last three years or so and seeing in what direction it is developing in, the
vast majority of new Muslim labels for the British market tend to have the
Arabian aesthetic. That is, gown-like, glamorous, and full of bling. It has the
kind of look that says “these clothes aren’t for the real world, they’re for
looking pleasing to a man in”. They’re the kind of clothes that say “I conform
to maintaining the status quo of traditional gender roles”. So if we keep on
doing what we’ve always done, won’t we be stuck in this undesirable
have been in the UK since the late 50s, when Asians brought their cultures with
them. Why is there still so much misunderstanding between ordinary British and
British Muslim communities? Why don’t people know who we are? Is it because
women –the gender that builds bridges and just gets on with things, have stayed
at home for the last 60 years? If it is, it means the men have been doing a
shit job at integrating. They’ve been bad at creating
understanding between and balancing the two cultures.
people have only been in this country for around twelve years. When they came,
they faced a lot of resentment. But they worked really hard and were good at
what they did and are now valued members of British society. You COULD argue that they came over as skilled workers, whereas Muslims did not. But isn’t three
generations of Muslims being in the UK long enough to have gone through the
education system, that’s the same system/ opportunities available to everyone
else, to become skilled people?
haven’t women taken charge of things yet? We’re still brought up with the idea
that once we’ve done our degrees and whatnot, we’re just going to get married
and raise kids. A lot of us have the mentality that we’re not going to ever go
out into the big wide world, we’re just going to be maintained by our husbands.
But then we end up in our late 20s/ early 30s and realise that a high
percentage of Muslim men available to us are “unsuitable” (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2012/jan/18/british-muslim-women-marriage-struggle)
and that we have to become independent, as a consequence of singledom, rather
than a deliberate decision. We didn’t have big ideas and ambition when we were
growing up, the constant “housewife indoctrination” meant we all had an
implicit understanding of our place in the world. We’re still being raised in
the same way today.
there’s the actual deal of Muslim women going into the workplace and being
important and making an impact. Many will say it’s impossible, that Britons are
collectively too Islamophobic to “allow” us to. I personally, am a little bit
bored of this “poor me” defensive attitude. Whilst I do not yet drive a Porsche
(not that I want to, but success in monetary terms is easy to understand) I’ve
achieved ok things. And although it wasn’t easy and I tried really, really hard
and worked really hard, maybe harder than your average white man, wasn’t it in
my interest to keep trying, if I wanted to be accepted and understood by those
appease The White Man, rather, so I had the choice to choose life; choose a
partner, choose where I want to live, rather than get tarted up and waiting to
be chosen. Maybe I’ve been lucky and that most of my interactions have been
with liberal, intelligent, educated people and hence I’ve never experienced any
Islamophobia, but maybe they’re the type of people, institutions etc that we
should be trying to build bridges with. And until we have proven ourselves,
like the Pols did, we’re going to have to work really hard. Then things will be
men have failed, so now it’s our turn to make things ok. Don’t get me wrong,
I’m a traditionalist. I want to stay at home and have lots of babies, but
there’s a world to save out there.
It was a trip to Morocco around 5 years ago that
first sparked my love for Islamic graphics and hence came to define the look of
the Elenany brand. Islamic art is everywhere over there; it’s a visual assault
wherever you look, in a good way.
I just realised that some of my all-time favourite lookbook images aren't available to view online anymore, so thought I'd compile all my favourites, past and present, right here succinctly in a single-post fashion. What's your favourite?