Riyadh Taps in the Huge Muslim Fashion Market but Not Without Controversy!

They call it the fashion for style-conscious Muslims and the “Modest Fashion” show took place in the Saudi Arabia capital Riyadh, of all the places.

The event with its extravagant clothing shows the transformation of Saudi Arabia. That is from a super conservative nation to a ‘modern’ one. But what did the show achieve?

The show was for the high society in Saudi Arabia, covered by European news agencies. During the show:

  • Princess Safia and Lomar launch the Khaleeki Chic abaya line, a modern and global abaya for all women
  • Princess Hannah Al-Faisal, the granddaughter of the late Minister of Foreign Affairs Saud Al-Faisal, walks the runway showcasing her mother’s designs


Princess Safia Hussein Guerras and Belgian designer Christophe Beaufays have collaborated with the Lomar brand to create a new line of abayas that redefine modest fashion, says Arab News.

Perhaps for security reason, the designers presented the Khaleeki Chic collection in a private fashion show hosted in the Belgian embassy on a Saturday (Jan 23).


True, it’s been a few years since conservative Saudi Arabia has hosted fashion events to give political signals. They wanted to show that change was coming.

Before the shows, Saudi women had little opportunity to use fashion to express themselves publicly.

While Muslim women around the globe were showing off. They were wearing Gucci’s, Balenciaga’s or whatever huge brands they wear in public.

In Saudi Arabia, and the world believed it too, the accepted norm was the abaya, a black floor-length cloak covering women’s clothes.

Women in Saudi Arabia have more freedom now. They can go to stadiums, which was taboo. They drive cars, which was also taboo. And they can also drive alone, without a guardian.

In the recent past, European fashion giants like Jean Paul Gaultier and Roberto Cavalli were in Riyadh. They were meeting with local designers.

They went to Saudi fashion shows, but men were not allowed and cameras were forbidden.

But the latest show in January shows Saudi Arabia will tap in the women’s fashion market in the Muslim world. The fashion shows now allow men and women and cameras.

The target group are Muslim women, who are with growing purchasing power. Four years ago, Muslims worldwide spent an estimated $254 billion (€211 billion) on clothing. According to the Global Islamic Economy Report, that should hit $373 billion by 2022, writes Deutch Weill.


Critics are saying the Saudi fashion shows are not courting controversies. The collection of Princess Safia Hussein Guerras and Christophe Beaufays did not cross the line. They were not too extravagant.

Perhaps that’s because Saudi Arabia wants to remain as conservative as possible while embracing change.

“We have showcased a collaboration between Her Highness Safia and Lomar to show a collection of abayas that reflects both the Saudi and Western culture, modernity and tradition,” Beaufays told Arab News.

“We hope to dress not just Saudi women or Arab women; this Abaya is a crossover between western clothes and Saudi garment to be something all the women in the world would like to wear at different occasions,” Beaufays said.

Well, in some countries people still view the abaya as a symbol of oppression or lack of freedom. But this is what Muslim women want in many countries, from Europe to Qatar, Indonesia or Turkey.

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