Interview with rising fashion designer: Natheefah Abdurahman

by Jade Rhode

We often have the perception that modesty does not equate to fashion. This local designer proves this stereotype to be false.

Source: Instagram, captured by Qabilah Abdurahman. Emerging fashion designer Natheefah Abdurahman rocking her design.

21-year-old fashion designer and Cape Town local Natheefah Abdurahman brings forth a strong message in her collection. Not only does her brand Modest Rose provide stunning designs, but it also shows the appreciation of being a Muslim in South Africa. Read more to find out about the Cape Town College of Fashion Design (CTCFD) alumnus.

What sparked your interest in fashion?

Since I was young, fashion has always been something that interested me. I would just make clothing for my dolls or I’d be playing fashion games. It’s just what I loved doing, and at the time I didn’t realize that this was something I would be doing right now.

What is your definition of the term “modesty”?

With modesty, the word itself means “a way of dressing that covers the body”. It’s not just about religious beliefs but is also a fashion style that many people lean towards when dressing, which I found really amazing.

How did you come up with the name Modest Rose?

I wanted something that when you read the name, you would immediately understand what my brand was about, so I knew I wanted to use “modest” because of its meaning. I [also] wanted something that symbolized elegance and beauty, “rose” was perfect.

What was the inspiration behind your graduate collection Modest Rose?

My graduate collection is about how in South Africa, we as Muslims can practice our religion in peace. Whereas in other parts of the world, Muslims are verbally attacked or sometimes worse for their religious beliefs. It really makes you feel so lucky and blessed to live in a place like this. It may not be perfect, but at least you are free to practice your religious beliefs.

Source: Natheefah Abdurahman, captured by Danielle Solomon. Natheefah at an exhibition, proudly displaying her modest-wear collection.

I noticed that there are Arabic writings printed on your fabric. What does it translate to in English, and why did you choose it?

The Arabic writings translate to the word “peace”. I chose this in relation to what my collection was about: people are fighting and abusing Muslims across the world and in South Africa, this doesn’t happen. The word “peace” just pulled things together and in a way, made the story complete.

Why did you choose the colours shown in your collection?

I really wanted to use bright and bold colours for my collection. I wanted it to be something that was happy and bright because we are acknowledging South Africa for being such a great place where we able to practice our religion in peace. So having those bright and bold colours was what made it complete.

What is your favourite fashion quote?

“Women who wear hijabs or dress modestly deserve to feel represented and see themselves in fashion images” – Gigi Hadid.

Source: Instagram, captured by @jose_pyladh. Modest Rose takes the step towards representing those who wear hijabs.

For those who are unaware, what does the hijab mean/symbolize?

The hijab is something that Muslim women wear to cover their hair. As you know, we are told to cover up so that falls part of it, but what’s become really nice about the hijab now is it’s become a fashion accessory, which I love. You see so many people styling it in so many ways, it makes it look so chic. It’s not just a simple way of wearing it to cover up anymore, it’s now an accessory in your everyday outfits.

Which fashion designer/s, in your opinion, best depicts modesty in their designs?

I’m going to mention a local designer, Miss H Designs. She designs women’s clothing and it’s always very on-trend. The nice thing about her designs is that they are modest and so beautiful. For an international designer, I’ll say Diana Kotb, she’s an Australian designer. I came across her work a year ago and I fell in love with her modest-wear designs.

What would you like to achieve before the end of 2020?

I see myself starting my retail/ready-to-wear line.

Finally, where do you see yourself in the next 5-10 years?

I would like to see myself running my business from my workspace, making custom dresses, and overlooking my ready-to-wear/retail garments as well.

Modest Rose shows us that the beauty of fashion not only lies in mini-skirts and shoulder-baring garments but in modest-wear too. Follow the Instagram account @modestrose_ or search Modest Rose on Facebook to see more of Natheefah’s journey.

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