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Stylish, Not Oppressive — These Indonesian Designers Showcased Beautiful Hijabs at New York Fashion Week

Couture, celebrities, and champagne. That’s what New York Fashion Week is known for. But in recent seasons, the stylish event has increasingly become a platform for political statements.

This week’s affair is no exception. 

Less than three miles from Trump Tower, a group of Indonesian designers set the week off to a strong start with a bold political statement.

“We are all still human no matter what religion you are. We are still the same,” designer Vivi Zubedi told AFP.

Zubedi and fellow designer Dian Pelangi — whose collections were featured in the “Indonesian Diversity” group show along with three other Indonesian designers — were motivated to show their collections at this season’s NYFW, in part, in response to President Donald Trump’s efforts to restrict entry into the US from Muslim-majority countries, according to the Huffington Post.

Both designers’ collections proudly highlight the beauty of hijabs and abaya; their collections are categorized as “modest fashion” at NYFW, designs targeted at religiously observant, modern people. Hijabs and abaya are common attire in Indonesia, which is simultaneously a Muslim-majority country and a secular state; however, women are not required to wear either as they would be in countries like Saudi Arabia.

ALURREALIST •••••••••••••••• Dian Pelangi’s collection for New York Fashion Week is inspired by the famous book "Humans of New York" @humansofny by Brandon Stanton. The life and the traffic in the New York City which is dynamic, dense, and active. From the east to the west, Also from stories behind diversity of people: from the artist, workers till homeless. Different energy, feel and personality. Those all are interpreted by different mixed patterns and colors within the looks. We use mostly neutral colors such as white, black, gray and cream that we combine with some identical colors of New York like yellow from the taxi, a little bit green from the Central Park, and also red from the traffic light. Batik as the technique of production/manufacturing will be used but with a little bit adjustment to create contemporer patterns. We put urban cutting, major loose silhouette, and slight deconstructions - reconstructions in all clothes. And separating the looks to 4 emotions : Melancholic, Sanguine, Choleric and Phlegmatic to create different mood of the big city's hustle and bustle. All of them represent the dynamic city: New York City. ••••••••••••••••• Make up by @wardahbeauty Shoes by @unificatio.official Bag by @dorisdorotheaofficial Photo by @afidasukma / Brian Arch via Getty Image #NewYorkFashionWeek #GoDPxBAforNYFW @wardahbeauty @wardahfashionjourney #WardahFashionJourney #FromJKTtoNY #ColorYourLife #DPassionateJourney #DPAlurrealist

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Though Zubedi and Pelangi’s homeland is not on Trump’s travel ban list, the country is 88% Muslim according to the Pew Research Center. The designers are not only at NYFW in defiance of Trump’s anti-Muslim policies, but their strong political statement also flies in the face of Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s request that his citizens remain quiet about the Trump administration’s policy for fear of backlash that would adversely affect the Southeast Asian nation. 

Last year, Anniesa Hasibuan, another designer from Indonesia, turned heads with her collection — the first to feature hijabs on the NYFW runway. This season, Pelangi and Zubedi are re-emphasizing her statement in a stunning way.

“We’re not oppressed and we just want to show the world that we still can be beautiful and stylish with our hijab on,” Pelangi told the Guardian.