Boat Image: TANYA HABJOUQA (b. 1975, Jordan) Untitled, from the series Occupied Pleasures 2013 Ink-jet on Canson Rag Photographique paper Image Courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

Muslim Fashion Showcased at DeYoung: Modest and Moving

When Max Hollein became the new director of the Fine Arts Museums in 2016, he pledged to foster the De Young’s mission “by offering multiple ways to access art and by creating meaningful experiences that will transcend the museum walls and be felt deeply throughout our local community and beyond.”

Before lighting off for greener pastures (he took the job as director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York last May) he ensured that his legacy for risk would represent his fond farewell.

Behold Contemporary Muslim Fashions –  the first major museum exhibition to explore the complex and diverse nature of Muslim dress codes worldwide.

The Hollein vision makes this pioneering exhibition one that faithfully examines how Muslim women have become arbiters of style within and beyond their communities.

Spotlighting places, garments, and styles from around the world, the exhibition focuses on clothing that responds to individual and collective interpretations of modesty. It considers how Muslim women define themselves and are defined by their dress, providing a snapshot of the current moment in Muslim modest fashion.

We were especially taken by costumes designed for Muslim athletes engaged in all manners of sport, including swimming and fencing.

As Islam is a multicultural faith, the dress of its practitioners is shaped not only by religious traditions but also by local customs and global trends.

“Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination,” staged at The Met last spring was also a celebration of modest fashion. That marvelous exhibition—devoted to Roman Catholic sensibilities and globalism—juxtaposed the museum’s religious masterpieces with ensembles from more than 50 designers.

One can only hope that such a show will one day come to the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco once it determines who will take over the directorial helm.