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Friday, December 31, 2010

Hijabi Discussions

The other day I was being interviewed by Richard Peres, who is an academician, and a writer. He is currently writing a new book about the hijab ban. I will give you more details later when it's available.

As I sat there talking to him, hearing myself reminded me that I've delayed this post and wanted to do it for the longest time.

I was telling Mr. Peres about my experiences as a hijabi in the US. Except for my junior high years and a short period during high school, I really didn't experience anything negative as a hijabi living in the US.


On the contrary, everytime I went out, I got compliments.


Several times I was stopped in the street or at the mall by women who asked, "where did you get your outfit?" Or, "Is this religious attire or is it a fashion statement?"

And everytime, I would answer, "It's BOTH!"

Other times, during cold winter weather, people would say "you look warm!". To which I would reply "Oh yes, I am." Sometimes if I had more time, and more questions were asked I'd go into the details.


When I wear my cap and comfijab combination in the summer, or when I'm working out, people often comment:


"You look like you're a race car driver!"
or "You look like you're ready to go on a safari!"


I like both of these comments. Because they are compliments.


Ofcourse living in the heat of TEXAS you always get the regular comment "Aren't you hot in that?" To which I reply "Well, it's TEXAS, no matter what you wear you're going to feel hot. My scarf is silk, it actually keeps me cooler because it provides a natural shade".


I rarely get strange looks, or looks where the other person is trying to figure out what the heck I'm wearing.

In New York, I actually also get the are-you-a-celebrity-in-disguise, kind of looks. LOL. (I go jogging at Central Park where many celebrities work out. Wearing a cap, comfijab and sunglasses does a disguise trick on people :-)


As a matter of fact, I do feel like a celebrity everytime I go out. Remember Fashion's Night Out (CLICK). Being the only hijabi at events definitely has its advantages as well. First of all, you always stand out! Imagine hundreds of people in the same room, you are the only one that looks different! I know this can be intimidating to some people who don't dare to be different. But if you're dressed nice and you look good, you should have the confidence and just enjoy it.


Here is an example: the other night my husband and I were invited to a private event on the Upper East side. It was one of the hotest places in town. I wore one of my KAVAKCI COUTURE designs. I looked very elegant (if I do say so myself ;-). All the high society Manhattinites were at this reception. The crowd was pretty diverse. There were well-known doctors, some famous singers, a few people from politics, and several other rich and famous people.


I walked in with my head up high, loving my unique look. Heads turned as we entered the room. We spoke to a few people we knew, and everytime I was introduced to someone, I got a compliment on my outfit.


"Wow, I love your dress!" or "What a beautiful hat!"


I smiled proudly and thanked the people who complimented me. I was proud on behalf of my hijab. The compliments weren't for my face, eyes or clothes specifically, the compliments came because of my hijab!


When I attend conferences or events somehow because I try to juggle a crazy schedule I walk in late. However, I always notice the heads turning. Even if I sit in the back of the room, after the event is over, I always have someone come up to me to compliment me on my style. And it's almost always the same exact conversation.


Introductions, and then "I love what you're wearing!"

"Oh thank you, I'm a designer."


"That explains it, as soon as I saw you walk-in I thought wow, she looks so stylish!"


Another time I was on my way to a lecture, trying to find the building I was supposed to be in, and went into one of the buildings to ask the front desk security lady where the room was located.


She pointed me to the room, and with jet speed I started heading that way. Only to hear her call out, "Oh Miss, Miss! I really like your bracelets (remember the FOREVER 21 bangles). Where did you get them?"


By then I have to turn around and tell the lady which store, which location, how much etc. But I don't mind. Because that's how the conversation starts and it leads up to "Oh so why do you wear that?" and I think "Bingo!"


I also got a compliment at the airport security one time. After I walked through the security the female police officer said "I like what you're wearing, what is that?" So I told her the usual story about being a designer who designs modest clothes.


And she said "Oh wow, I like modest clothes, I gotta get me some of those. Do you have a card?". And so I gave her my card.


I think that's enough hijabi discussions for you ladies. Hope I didn't bore ya!


What are your hijabi celebrity stories?

Elif Kavakci for HijabiTopia

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Style Storm

Bring on the SNOW

Bring on the BLAST

Add the WHITEOUT

SHE'S STILL GOT STYLE

Meet Ms. Blizzard



Note: The models were dressed in a computer program where hijab options are limited. Unfortunately, this program does not carry our designer comfijab. We realize some of her neck is showing. Please don't think that we are trying to make everyone show their neck, or dress in a certain way. Make your own decisions wisely!

Elif Kavakci for HijabiTopia

Monday, December 27, 2010

Comfijab

We've been getting a lot of requests for information about our KAVAKCI COUTURE design comfijab, and we wanted to let you know that we are currently working on providing you with more detailed information. There will be a video coming soon!

The Comfijab is an abbreviation for Comfortable Hijab. It was designed by Elif Kavakci to make wearing hijab more practical, chic and comfortable for an active lifestyle.

It's made from breathable fabric that provides all day comfort. It is also one of the quickest hijabs a woman can wear! In mere 20 seconds, you're covered!

It looks very stylish, yet is easy to care for. Washable, dryable, color fade and shrink resistant! Best of all, no ironing necessary!!!

You don't need a pin to hold it down. It stays in place all day!

It also complements any hijab style. You can wear the comfijab with a turban style hijab, and it provides complete hair and neck coverage.

You can make it more fashionable with a fedora, or any hat, cap, beret, shawl, headband, absolutely anything you can imagine!


You can wear it with a KAVAKCI COUTURE white cap and go work out.


The equestrienne comfijab has been tested by Elif Kavakci. When you're cantering on a horse at great speed, and the wind factor is added to it, the comfijab stays put and does not move an inch!

You can wear it for any sport you can imagine including tennis, karate, boxing, golfing, running, step, pilates. Whatever your activity is, it will adapt to your lifestyle!


The graduation Comfijab provides the hijabi who is looking forward to walk across the stage, with the best style! It's been custom made to provide a uniform look when worn with the graduation cap and gown. A hijabi walking across the stage deserves a great applaud! She's often the only one in thousands, and should have the best style on stage. Elif Kavakci feels it's her responsibility as an Islamic designer to help hijabis look their best. She has no doubt seen some funny combinations, and realized it was about time someone did something to help the hijabis out!

The Bridal comfijab can be worn with the bridal veil for the most important day of a girls life! Again it will stay put throughout the day !


For additional questions about the comfijab or any KAVAKCI COUTURE design you can email comfijab@gmail.com


The Comfijab- Once you wear it, you will never want to take it off!


KAVAKCI COUTURE TEAM

Friday, December 24, 2010

Exclusive Interview with Kareem Salama

The interview you have been waiting for!!!

I'm extremely grateful to Kareem Salama for taking time out of his very busy schedule to answer our long questions.

He is educated, talented, and a GREAT role model!  He is a perfect example of how someone can go to great lengths to make a difference in the world!

Here is the interview you will not want to miss!

The one and only, Kareem Salama


Photo courtesy of  Julie Soefer


Where are you originally from?

I was born and raised in a small town in Oklahoma. My parents immigrated to the US in the late 60s, early 70s for school.

You come from a very educated family, could you tell us about your parents?

My father received his doctorate from MIT and my mother received two Masters Degrees from Northeastern University and then later received her doctorate from Oklahoma State.


And what is your educational background?

I received a Bachelors of Science in Chemical Engineering and Jurist Doctorate in Law.

What did you do after graduation?

I have practiced engineering and law. I clerked for a district judge in Houston Texas and also for the Chemical Patents department at ExxonMobil.

Which field are you working in now?

I currently draft all contracts for the media company that releases my work and plan on continuing to practice law in the future.


So you don't sing for a living?

Just a hobby. Never planned on doing what I’m doing and singing/songwriting certainly isn’t all I want to do. But I feel this is the appropriate thing to do at this point in my life.


So how did your singing adventure start?

I liked writing songs and when I was in my late teens I began writing melodies to classical Western poems in order to memorize them (this is a practice used in Arabic poetry). I started becoming a more serious songwriting soon thereafter.

Where does the country flavor to your music come from, and why did you choose country music?

The “country” flavor to my music comes from my upbringing in Oklahoma. Oklahoma is renowned for country music and country music artists. I grew up around it. I also like that country music has an older/traditional feel. It feels reverent and fits my lyrical content best.

Do you sing other genres of music?

My music is a hybrid of country, pop and rock but the country element is probably the most obvious.


Do you write all your songs?

I write all of my songs.

Wow! How long have you been singing professionally?

I’ve been performing for about 6-7 years on and off. But up until recently it remained a hobby. I’ve released 2 albums but we are now releasing a mainstream album and we recently released the first single from this album which is a rewritten and reproduced version of a song called Generous Peace.

Where have you performed?

I have performed all over…Italy, France, the UK, Netherlands, US, Germany.



And you met President Obama!

Yes. I was invited to an Iftar dinner by President Obama. There were a number of governmental officials and dignitaries including ambassadors, congressmen, Defense Secretary Gates, David Axelrod, etc. I did not perform at the event but the President spoke to me about the possibility of having me come to the White House to perform. He was very gracious at the dinner.

Could you tell us a little about your childhood?

My childhood was very ideal. I typically describe it like the movie “The Sandlot.” It was a classic American childhood: playing baseball with the neighborhood kids, toilet papering houses, playing kick the can in the summer time, sitting on the porch with friends drinking lemonade. I have great memories of my childhood. In fact I want our next video to be a reflection of my memories as a child. I was also fortunate enough to be raised by loving, supportive, devout and open minded parents. I see some parents whose idea of devotion actually makes their children rebel against their faith, however my parents were compassionate and patient and as a result I grew to love my faith and see its beauty naturally.

What kind of sports did you participate in growing up?

When I was young I played lots of sport recreationally or on a team: baseball, ping pong, swimming, tennis, wrestling, basketball and boxing.


What do you feel is unique about boxing? What does boxing really teach?

I learned focus. Boxing is a sport that requires an incredible amount of focus. The stakes are too high to lose focus. It teaches the human being how to collect his thoughts and turn away from irrelevant thoughts. The human being must do the same in his/her thikr.

What was the reason behind the boxing scene in the Generous Peace video?

I wanted to illustrate that the desire to respond to ugliness with beauty should be rooted in virtue and not fear. In other words you can forgive someone or make empty calls for “peace” because you are simply afraid of the person in which case the human being is not only insincere but he/she is cowardly. Tolerance should be rooted in principle and a genuine desire to forgive and pardon. So in the video, the boxing scenes were meant to indicate that although, my character can defend himself he chooses to pardon the mockers and in fact later on helps them get their wallet back. It’s a simple and universal idea but again, it seems to have been somewhat forgotten.



You are also a rider, do you ride Western or English?

 
I ride Western.
 
Do you compete? 
 
I ride for pleasure.
 
You compared boxing to thikr, is one of the reasons you ride because it's the sunnah of our Prophet?
 
The Prophet ‘alayhi salam had an appreciation for horses and I appreciate what he ‘alayhi salam appreciates. I do think it is important to learn horseback riding because I think there is a connection between taming a horse and taming ones own nafs. You break horse the same way you break your own ego…gradually and firm but gentle. If you push a horse too hard too early it will rebel. If you leave it without any discipline it will remain untamed and unruly. Also, once tamed horses exemplify an incredible amount of devotion. The human ego is similar. Once the ego/nafs of the human being has been tamed he can be truly devoted; devoted to God, family, principles, community, neighbors, etc.



Could you explain to us how "Generous Peace" came about?

Well the song was based on a poem by Imam Al Shafi’i who is not only the founder of one of the four major Islamic schools of thought but was also a poet. The video and the song are about tolerance, patience, and responding to ugliness with beauty. One of the central teachings related to proper conduct (adab or ahlaq) in Islam and really most faiths is learning to respond to ugliness with beauty. Unfortunately, it is becoming less and less important to people. But in truth overlooking ugliness is very liberating for the heart so it results in a sound heart and a sound community.


We love the video, especially the beautiful hijabi in the video. How did you come up with the idea for the clip?

I had the idea for the video a couple years ago. Although it does not happen often I do have friends and family members who have been harassed in the street for wearing the hijab. I think some of this is born out of the fact that some Muslims have done a poor job of representing their tradition in recent times. But some of it is born out of the fact that people don’t actually know women who wear hijab. I think the dominant perception is that women who wear hijab are meek, quiet, perhaps even self righteous women that were duped into wearing the scarf. And the irony is I don’t actually know a single hijab wearing woman that fits that description. So part of my motivation was just to show a woman wearing hijab that reflects my experience with hijab wearing women.

 I should say that I did have some fear that I would appear to be “pushing” the hijab. The truth is I am a little disturbed by the centrality that women’s attire gets in Muslim discourse. In my own life I think the hijab is none of my business. My mother and sister wear it and they did so completely by their own choice I respect women regardless of how they choose to dress and I don’t think anyone should tell a woman to wear it or not wear it. But I was hopeful that my genuine intent would come through and it wouldn’t be perceived as another attempt to tell women what they should or shouldn’t wear.

In this day an age, where the main stream media tries to put a negative image of a Muslim woman out there, it's so nice to see a Muslim young man such as yourself, who tries to change that. Unlike the US, in alot of countries young girls who wear the hijab face painstaking ordeals and take a stand for their beliefs. What are your thoughts on the current hijab/burka bans in other countries? 

 Emerson said, nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles. I am always impressed when I see someone that is devoted to their principles even though that devotion may come at a price. Devotion to anything; family, friends, craft, art, faith, etc, is increasingly rare so seeing a woman wearing a hijab reminds me of my own need to be more devoted in all aspect of my life.

I do think, however, that the hijab has found a centrality in Muslim discourse that is unhealthy. It is a woman’s prerogative and doesn’t need to be discussed ad nauseam. I would say the obsession with the hijab in modern times; whether its insisting women wear it or not wear, is a sign of the spiritual decline Muslims are currently facing.

Well, we love your music. What kind of feedback do you receive from your fans? Are they mostly Muslim or do you have fans who are not Muslim as well?
 
We get a very positive response from people of all faiths (even people that do not prescribe to a particular faith). In fact it was because of the response from non Muslims that motivated us to begin working on a mainstream release that would be widely promoted and widely available. I never intended my music to be for one religious or ethnic group. I like to think my music is relevant to everyone.
 


What are your plans for the future?
 
We want to complete the current album and share it with a broad audience around the world. I try not to indulge any grand hopes for my music beyond my desire to make an album that is entertaining, genuine and hopefully uplifting.


Where can our readers purchase your cds?

They can order it from the website, www.kareemsalama.com.


TURK OKURLARIMIZA (Note for our Turkish Readers)

Bu roportajin turkcesini okumak icin TIKLA

Elif Kavakci for HijabiTopia

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Kareem Salama

Today I would like to share with you the music of one of our favorite singers. Kareem Salama is a Muslim Country music singer. The below video is from his upcoming album. It is a video about tolerance, and peace. We love this video especially because it feautures a hijabi who is being made fun of.

We recently interviewed the Muslim Star. Here are some of the questions he answered:

Why does he box? Why does he like horseback riding? What did it feel like meeting President Obama?

We also asked him what he thinks of when he sees a hijabi?


Our exclusive interview with the singer, TOMORROW!!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Calvin Klein Pre-Fall 2011

One of my favorite designers is Calvin Klein. I like his minimalism, his clean cut silhouettes and exquisite construction.

I'm a strong believer in the saying "less is more".

Here are some pictures from his latest collection. Very modest, very conservative.

All photographs provided by Courtesy Photo













Monday, December 20, 2010

Hijabi Fashion Rocks Mainstream Fashion!



Does Hijabi Fashion impact fashion trends?

Oh YES! And we have proof!

Have you passed by a store, and backed up and gotten a closer look at what the manequin is wearing?

Did you notice that, most of the stores have a hijabi manequin in the window no matter what the season?

This past summer, I was walking by Kenneth Cole, and my jaw dropped. There was a partial manequin (only the head) with a scarf draped around her head. I couldn't believe it! In Texas heat, they draped a scarf around the models head. There was only one explanation...

Fashion trends are taking a unique route. In the past, trends were mostly celebrity driven. Street fashion was there but noone really took it seriously. Whereas now, street fashion plays a huge role in mainstream fashion.

Designers wanted celebrities wearing their clothes as a means of promotion. They also wanted celebrities in the front row of their shows, because that's what brought in the media, and therefore lead to more publicity.

But lately, designers have been taking inspiration from real people, from stylish/fashionable people walking in the streets.

With the number of hijabis on the rise, walking the streets around the world, bringing a new meaning to how trends are applied, designers have taken notice.

As you will remember from our post about Marc Jacobs (CLICK), the hijabi look has been on the runway many times.

If we tried to name all the designers who used hijabi looks on the runway, we would not be able to fit them all here. Just to name a few, Alexander McQueen, Fendi, Dolce&Gabbana, Moschino, Jaeger London... And the list goes on and on.

Since the stores follow the runways, now the hijabi looks decorate the store windows.

Without further delay, here are some pictures I took to show you how hijabis impact trends!

From the Runways:

Fendi







Jaeger London








Jean-Paul Gaultier



Missoni





Here is what we found at the stores in 2010



BARNEY'S NEW YORK












Bergdrof Goodman








MACY'S NEW JERSEY


ZARA NEW YORK




"Trends are expressions of the times we live in.  To predict the fashion of tomorrow, you have to be able to interpret todays signals too."
David Shah, Trend Guru

Elif Kavakci for HijabiTopia

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Zehra Nur's Hijab Style

How do you wear your hijab? Do you like to wear long pashmina's or are you a square scarf girl?


I wanted to bring you Zehra Nur's style. She is a sophomore in College. A beautiful girl with great style.


Here are a few pictures of her delicious fashion taste...


BE THERE OR BE SQUARE

Angelic White


Color Me Happy



Haute Pink


Burberista





Black&White





Just Peachy


Black Elegance


LV Love




PASSION FOR PASHMINA

Blue-tiful











Metallic Hues



On the wild side


Pretty in Pink


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Walk This Way!

I have so much to share with you! The first Pierre Hardy store in the US just opened! In the west village, in NY!

Pierre Hardy's shoes are to die for! Before everyone starts dropping dead (just kidding) let me show you what they look like :-)

Entering Pierre Hardy on 30 Jane Street, The West Village



Walking in through the doors



The Boots





The Sandals



And the One and Only Manhattan Sky Line Inspired Shoes

(hold your breath)


Now who wouldn't want to walk in these?