Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 August 2020

Hijabi influencer Taqwa Bint Ali makes history by modelling for Jean Paul Gaultier

The Tunisian-French modestwear star appears in a new campaign for the French fashion house, as well as another campaign for Fendi

Taqwa Bint Ali is the first hijabi woman to model for Jean Paul Gaultier. Courtesy Jean Paul Gaultier
Taqwa Bint Ali is the first hijabi woman to model for Jean Paul Gaultier. Courtesy Jean Paul Gaultier

French-Tunisian influencer Taqwa Bint Ali is on something of a roll.

She is already well respected for her slick take on modest dressing, and is the co-founder of France’s first modest fashion platform Galeries Zarafet, which she set up with her cousin to help hijab wearers feel comfortable in France.

She is also actively involved with the organisation Akagi Club, which helps offer secure sport spaces for Muslim women, and now she has been picked for not one, but two fashion campaigns.

In July, Bint Ali appeared on the social media page of Italian luxury house Fendi, as one of the women modelling the summer collection. Clad in a roomy, logo T-shirt, with a chic silk scarf tied under her chin, she stands with four other women, all wearing elements from the season's range.

Bint Ali was then chosen to be part of series of images entitled No Show for French designer Jean Paul Gaultier. Although Gaultier officially retired from fashion in February, this new series is a celebration of his vast archive, with diverse personalities wearing his vintage couture designs.

In the image, Bint Ali sports an oversized lime green jumper that has trailing neck ties, worn over a black feather-trimmed skirt, and what could well be football shin guards. With Gaultier, anything is possible.

As the first hijabi to model for the house, this is something of a milestone not only for Bint Ali, but for Gaultier, too. Always one to embrace the unconventional, Gaultier has long used everyday people rather than models for his runway shows.

On a wider scale, this also marks an important moment for French fashion. As a nation, France has what is best described as a complex relationship with modest dress codes. While it has freedom of religious expression enshrined into its law, it has also taken actions such as banning the burkini in 2016, drawing widespread criticism.

As a much cherished figure in France, it is good to see that Gaultier at least is taking strides to tackle inclusion and diversity.

When asked about her experience as a Muslim woman growing up in Paris, Bint Ali told Mille World: “As a hijabi woman, it has never been easy for me to find a school, an internship or a job. I’ve always loved fashion and art but have always felt like there was a huge representation problem within these industries."

However, she cites Galeries Zarafet, which "seeks to celebrate Muslim and modest culture", as helping change the narrative.

“Now, even non-Muslim men and women are hearing us and following us.”

Updated: July 29, 2020 06:10 PM

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