I have long thought that organised religion and fashion were deadly enemies, and I thought this despite the fact that in my childhood, Autumn and Spring were the times when you hit the shops so you could join the fashion parade in the ladies' gallery of our synagogue for Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Passover. While the men below prayed, the women cast a critical eye over each other's outfits. Evidently, God was a keen fashionista if he judged whse name was to be written down in the book of life and whose in the book of death by whether we had a Chanel bag with a chain handle.
It has slowly been sinking in that the Muslim woman who ties a headscarf across her hair might not been the downtrodden slave of misogynist fundamentalism that the panicky first believed. The scarf, or hijab, is now a hot fashion accessory amongst young Muslim women. How have I come about such a realisation? Looking at salesgirls in London. At the stunning women whose carefully put together outfit checks this season plus an artfully tied hijab on top:
Jana Kossaibati, whose blog, Hijab Style, claims to be the UK's first style guide for Muslim women, says women are getting more experimental. "Muslim girls are very conscious of the way they dress. When you wear a headscarf you stand out as a Muslim, so what kind of message are you also sending out if you look drab or messy?" Kossaibati started her site because there wasn't another like it in the UK, "but since it began 10 months ago a lot of others have appeared," she says.
Go and check out that site, and also Hijabfashionista and The Hijab blog, where
classic "Spanish", "simple braid" and layered styles are studied and copied by women who want to make sure their scarves turn heads. Other sites advise on the best scarves to wear for sport and even under a baseball cap.
Perhaps fashion will defeat fundamentalism. Hope so.