Fashion designer and icon of modest fashion, Dian Pelangi touched down in London to give LCF a very special series of workshops as part of her design residency with the college.
In front of an audience of her London based fans, Indonesian Embassy Officials, the British Fashion Council and LCF students and academics, Dian presented her hijab styling workshop and talked about her mission to show the beauty of modest Muslim dressing.
Dian’s family produce artisan textiles featuring hand drawn batik and unique designs in Indonesia, and she has branched out with her own ready to wear label, DP by Dian. Working within a long tradition of beautiful craftmanship, Dian has also brought the Pelangi style into the digital age with social media savvy and a massive online following.
LCF’s Reina Lewis, author of the Faith and Fashion lecture series, welcomed Dian to the stage at the British Fashion Council’s International Fashion Showcase exhibition in Soho, explaining that Dian represents a new generation of Muslims that understand “contemporary styling as faith”.
Her colourful and cool modest styling has gained traction in Indonesia and with Muslim populations across the world with the support of magazines like Femina and the Indonesian government.
Styling hijabs on two models, Dian showed ways of wearing the headscarf for different occasions: neatly folded up onto the head in a way reminiscent of a pillbox hat for formal occasions, and flowing and asymmetrical for more casual days.
Taking questions from the audience, Dian spoke about the biggest challenges she faces:
“People challenge me saying that I shouldn’t be creating fashion, that Islam is not about fashion, but my answer to them is that the hijab is beautiful and that Muslim wear is beautiful.
My biggest creative challenge is to come up with new designs and trends whilst keeping within Muslim rules – for example, the garment cannot be transparent or tight – so I have to work hard!”
As someone with 1.7 million Instagram followers (and counting) Dian can testify to the impact of social media. She spoke about how she started out and why digital media is so key for her:
“My friend persuaded me to start a blog in 2010 and I saw that it had such a great impact. The Centre for Fashion Enterprise (based at LCF) were a great support to me in terms of learning how to internationalise my brand – how we can ship internationally, how we can use social media to connect with people across the world. Maintaining the image of the brand is key in order to become recognisable. Also, we use English across our social media.”
The styling workshop concluded with a very Dian touch – she invited a volunteer from the audience to be the model for her final hijab look, and made a gift of the Pelangi fabrics scarf she was using to the lucky audience member. Her volunteer was very excited to be up on stage with the icon of Muslim style and the audience clapped and laughed as Dian created yet another wonderful style, folding and draping the scarf into an elegant shape.
The good feeling proved the way that Dian’s fans really take to heart her vision for Muslim dressing, and their excitement at the modest and stylish vision of contemporary faith that she represents. Dian concluded with her thoughts on Muslim style and what it might mean in a country like Britain with a Muslim minority:
“Art and fashion are a form of expression. I want to show that I can still be fashionable with a headscarf. I make sure to represent a good image as a Muslim woman so that my audience can appreciate what that means. What’s more, I use the term ‘modest wear’ to show that not only Muslim women can wear these styles.”
Dian’s style features colourful, sumptuous fabrics, which bring Indonesian and Muslim tradition to a global audience. What became clear from her visit to LCF, is that it is her good business and media sense and warm enthusiasm which have made her a modern day idol for young women across the world, and that she will continue to prove how faith can be expressed through fashion for time to come.
- Find out more about the Centre for Fashion Enterprise
- Find out more about the Faith and Fashion series
- Read more international stories at LCF
- Photography: Emmi Hyyppä, MA Fashion Photography.