The Dolce & Gabbana Abaya and Hijab Story That Went Around the World

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When Style.com/Arabia broke the news on Sunday, January 3rd about the debut Dolce & Gabbana abaya and hijab collection, we knew that it would pique the interest of our readers who have long admired the storied Italian house. Naturally, we expected a few other news outlets to be intrigued, too. What we didn’t anticipate was that — within mere days — our global exclusive became the first big fashion story of 2016 that got the world’s media into a frenzy.

Dozens of reputed publications reported on the collection and linked back to our original story. American Vogue, British Vogue, Time Magazine, Huffington Post, Forbes, BuzzFeed, New York Magazine, Allure, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, POPSUGAR, Refinery29, Business Insider, Mashable, Quartz, VICE, Daily Mail, and countless other publications and blogs around the region and world, scrambled to get the news online. There were multiple discussion threads on Reddit. Fox News even joined the fray. All cited Style.com/Arabia as the source that broke the news, leading to millions of page views of the collection on Style.com/Arabia, and tens of thousands of likes and shares on social media. And counting.

But while readers’ interest in the Dolce & Gabbana abaya and hijab collection may have been unanimous, it has been received with mixed reviews that serve to further confirm the paradoxal nature of the Arab world.

Here are some of comments pulled from Stefano Gabbana’s official Instagram account:

“It is so beautiful. I really, really love it, thanks for thinking about Muslim women,” wrote @isleym_sousou.

“No thank you Dolce & Gabbana, my hijab is not a fashion statement. I cover to please Allah and Allah alone,” stated @fahimah_uncover4what.

Countless comments across social media addressed the fact that the model in the lookbook was not Arab.

“Not saying it’s not a great step, just a perfect opportunity to challenge beauty standards missed,” noted @rosacalcraft.

One alternative viewpoint might be that by choosing a model that isn’t Arab, perhaps the duo unintentionally made a more inclusive statement about Muslim dress in general. A statement that anyone can be Muslim, and every Muslim—whether she is white, black, brown, or green can wear an abaya and a hijab—and look beautiful.

From a business angle, as Forbes highlighted, the Middle East now represents a US $8.7 billion market (Bain & Company), and not only is Dolce & Gabbana’s decision to launch an abaya and hijab line a smart move (or the “smartest move in a while,” as noted by the Forbes author), but it is also one that just might lead other major international fashion houses to follow suit.

“I don’t see half of these designs back home in Kuwait and for D&G to even make a line like this will make others realize there’s competition going on and soon all high end designers will be making abayas and it’ll be a success; we can finally wear designer clothes with good material and designs. Don’t see a problem here,” wrote @rexless_x.

Tiptoeing into the sea of controversial comments was Stefano Gabbana himself. “Do we occidental women need to start wearing the veil, too?” asked one follower in Italian. Gabbana responded (translated from Italian), “@Fatimapetrucci it is only for the Middle East; don’t worry, no one will oblige you to wear a veil… we don’t have that culture, but we should accept the Middle East’s.”

 

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