Bernard Chandran, Melinda Looi among designers featured at de Young Museum


By Su Fen Tan

Bernard Chandran, Melinda Looi among designers featured at de Young Museum

On posters and promotion materials for Contemporary Muslim Fashions, the stunning Halima Aden is seen in a long dress with tie-dyed effect and feather detailing — a vivid look designed by Malaysia’s very own Melinda Looi, putting local fashion on the world map.


Organised by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Contemporary Muslim Fashions at de Young is the first major exhibition to explore the complex and diverse nature of Muslim fashion across the world. Putting the spotlight on modest and Muslim dress codes, it examines how Muslim women have become arbiters of style, and how modest fashion has been adapted by Muslim and non-Muslim designers.


“There are those who believe that there is no fashion at all among Muslim women, but the opposite is true, with modern, vibrant, and extraordinary fashion scenes, particularly in many Muslim-majority countries,” says Max Hollein, former Director and CEO of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. “Contemporary Muslim Fashions is an overdue, much-needed exploration of a multifaceted topic as yet largely unexplored by museums. This exhibition stands out in our long history of outstanding fashion exhibitions and will shed light onto larger political, social, and cultural understandings and misunderstandings.”


Contemporary Muslim Fashions‘ regional exploration covers Malaysia, highlighting how the digital age spurred a rapidly growing market for halal beauty, technology, food and fashion, and the high demand for bespoke looks by the Muslim elite. Among a string of international names, five Malaysian designers played a part in this pioneering exhibition: Bernard Chandran, Melinda Looi, Datin Haslinda Abdul Rahim of Blancheur, and Fiziwoo’s Izree Kai Haffiz and Mohd Hafizi Radzi Woo.


“I am honoured to be selected for this exhibition and I believe it is about time that a major museum is exploring Muslim and modest dress codes,” says Melinda Looi. “I applaud de Young museum, which welcomes 1.7 million visitors annually, for bringing the topic of contemporary Muslimah fashion to wider audience and start a  global discussion.”


The ‘Contemporary Muslim Fashions’ will run until 6 January 2019 at de Young, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. 

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