Friday, June 29, 2012


Here are some back stage and run way photos of our latest fashion show.

En son defilemizden kareler.


Nazreen Hassan perfecting her hijab in the mirror
Organiser Ndaa Hassan peeks through the curtain before the models go on stage. Model Shaima is trying to tie on her top as she holds on to her baloons :-) 
Fashion Designer Elif Kavakci takes a minute backstage to breathe and smile at the camera :-)

Elif is fixing one of the model's hijab, before she goes on to the runway.
Models pose for the camera before they go on the runway
KAVAKCI COUTURE Blue Silk Shantung tunic worn with the white comfijab and cap
Queens Image Photography

Queens Image Photography
Queens Image Photography

Queens Image Photography

Fashion for Compassion event organisers Zeena Alkurdi and Ndaa Hassan close the show.
Queens Image Photography
Designer Elif Kavakci exits the stage at the end of the show with a smile on her face at the end of a long night.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Fashion for Compassion Show is feautured in the Dallas Morning News!!

Our fashion show and the Fashion for Compassion event is in the Dallas Morning News Religion section today :-)

Please read below


SARAH MERVOSH The Dallas Morning News

Staff Writer

Published: 24 June 2012 10:47 PM

RelatedAt a sleek venue in Dallas’ Design District, Ndaa Hassan burst through the curtain and rushed backstage. The fashion show was about to start. She was a flurry of nerves, wrapped in light pink from head to toe. “Ladies, it’s a full house!” she shouted.

The 30 or so models wore vibrant eye shadow, bejeweled dresses and high heels. But in this case, the stilettos didn’t lead up to bare, twiggy legs. In fact, they led no further than the hems of loose-fitting dresses that revealed almost no skin.

This was fashion, all right, but with a Muslim influence.

Hassan and her friend Zeena Alkurdi were presenting their first fashion show to about 150 people, spotlighting stylish but modest clothing — including some of their own designs. As entrepreneurs, Hassan and Alkurdi, both 22, design and sew hijabs whose chic styles range from tie-dye and sequins to cheetah print and vintage floral.

Each has launched an online boutique to bridge the gap between the Middle Eastern traditions of their parents and the American culture they grew up in. A stylish hijab, they say, empowers Muslim girls to feel more confident and find common ground with non-Muslim peers.

Using the Internet and social media, these entrepreneurs have expanded their businesses in ways that wouldn’t have been possible even a few years ago. They have a growing Muslim population to cater to, with around 2.6 million living in the U.S., according to census data, and about 150,000 in North Texas, according to the Association of Religion Data Archives at Pennsylvania State University.

And they are providing a product that wasn’t always easy to find, said Elif Kavakci, who spoke at the fashion show. She designs high-end, one-of-a-kind outfits for powerful clients, such as the first lady of Turkey, through her company, Kavakci Couture. “There is a high demand,” Kavakci said. “In 2012, women have so many more options.”

A way of life

Both Hassan’s and Alkurdi’s parents came from the Middle East. The friends grew up in North Texas and attended local universities. But neither has a background in fashion. Their mothers and grandmothers taught them how to sew, and they taught themselves the rest —finding time to make hijabs outside Alkurdi’s job at a Muslim school and Hassan’s part-time marketing work.

Their clients range from teens to women in their 30s. They each field orders from around the world — Malaysia, Canada, Brazil — and sell their scarves for $10 to $30. In the last year and a half, Alkurdi has sold about 350 hijabs. Hassan, who started six months ago, has sold between 150 and 200.

Hassan’s boutique, Écharpe á la Mode, offers classy scarves with a simple design, while Alkurdi prefers a bold style inspired by Kim Kardashian. “If I was going to a night out with my friends, I would wear Zeena’s hijab. If I was going to a wedding or a brunch, I would wear Ndaa’s,” said Hanan Qasem, 20, a college student and one of the models at the fashion show.

Alkurdi named her business Pearl Boutique, inspired by Muhammad Ali. As the story goes, the legendary boxer told his daughter that oysters cover pearls, and since she was even more precious than a pearl, she should be covered, too.

This story resonates with Muslim women. Wearing the hjiab as part of their faith makes them feel empowered, proud and beautiful. Alkurdi says the best compliment she can get is when she’s wearing a hijab. For “hijabis,” the scarf is not just an item of clothing; it connects them with God and reminds them who they are. They wear the hijab every day. Only other women and male family members can see them without the scarf.

“It might be an accessory and clothing, but it is a way of life,” Hassan said. “With the hijab on, we’re always representing our religion, and it forces us to be on our best behavior.”

Ten years ago, after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Alkurdi’s father asked her if she wanted to take a break from wearing the hijab. She broke down in tears. “This is a part of me,” she said. “I can’t take it off.”

Alkurdi and Hassan both chose to wear the hijab at young ages. Alkurdi was in the sixth grade and Hassan was in 11th. It was a choice they wanted to make, but they struggled to put together outfits that looked good and also fit a hijab lifestyle.

They say it’s a problem many young Muslim girls face, and it can take its toll on a girl’s confidence. That was true for Hanan Qasem. Growing up, she wore the hijab and was overweight, a combination that made her especially sensitive to feeling judged. She often wore sweats or all black. “That doesn’t give the best impression,” she said.

Qasem also attended schools where she was one of only a few Muslims. Once, a boy ripped off her hijab and exposed her hair. “I was a fish with sharks,” she said. “I was swimming by myself.”

Opening the door

Once a girl begins to wear the hijab, she has to prepare for questions and, sometimes, ridicule. Over the years, Hassan and Alkurdi have been called many offensive names.

But it’s not all bad. By wearing fashionable hijabs, Hassan and Alkurdi have encouraged others to ask questions: You don’t always have to wear black? Are you assigned to wear a certain color hijab each day of the week? Can you really exercise while wearing the scarf? (No, no and yes.)

“It opens that door,” Alkurdi said. “It allows a sort of forum between you and people who admire the way that you dress.”

Though many Westerners — and some Muslims — think Islam is incompatible with being stylish, Hassan and Alkurdi disagree. They quote an Islamic saying: “God is beautiful and he loves beauty.”

Kavakci, who has hosted similar fashion shows in the Dallas area, understands. “People say, ‘Is that a fashionable outfit or a religious attire?’” she said. “I say, ‘Both. Why can’t it be both?’”

After the fashion show, Hassan hurried back to her booth to sell a scarf. A girl stopped her. Hassan had never seen her before, and she didn’t catch her name. But the girl told Hassan what she needed to hear at that moment.

“This has inspired me,” the girl said, “to put on the hijab.”


The hijab lifestyle

The hijab is a traditional Muslim scarf that covers a woman’s hair but leaves her face uncovered. Some other things to know:

Some women who wear the hijab call themselves hijabis. To them, the hijab does not just mean the scarf on their heads, but the lifestyle that goes along with that commitment to Islam.

Each woman interprets what it means to follow hijab differently, but it involves being covered and dressing modestly. Typically, this means clothing should be loose-fitting and cover everything but a woman’s hands and face.

Girls generally start wearing the hijab when they hit puberty. But, depending on the family, the girl can decide when she is ready.

Girls can experiment with hair colors and styles under the hijab.

It takes work to care for hair that’s under the hijab. Hijabis typically massage their scalps to make sure natural oils spread to their entire head. Hair should be exposed to sunlight for 30 minutes a day.

There are many ways to wrap the scarf, including up-dos and braiding two scarves together.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Kate Moss supports Hijabi Fashion Designer Barjis Chohan!!!

Fashion designer Barjis Chohan who designs modest clothes has been in the media with her attempts to rock the fashion world. Kate Moss is one of her latest supporters. More power to Barjis and her efforts in changing the fashion world.

Click below to read the latest article.

You can also visit her website for more information about her designs

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

It's Show Time!!!

Wheewww! We are all so glad the show is over :-) We had an amazing show, however, the last few weeks have been absolutely crazzyy! A designer's calendar is divided in to two sections, life before the show, and life after the show. Life before the show is anything and everything you can imagine from working 24/7 to trying to pull off last minute details, the stress of depending on a team of people, and worrying about the fact that whatever falls through the cracks will make you look bad as a designer, and knowing that at the end of the day, it's your name and your brand's life on the line. Life after the show is ofcourse, very sweet. It involves breathing and normal heart beats :-). It's the happiness of knowing you've accomplished another extremely difficult task and have overcome obstacles, and learned a lesson for your next show. It's knowing who was there for you, and who failed at their duty.

If you followed us on twitter and facebook, you knew about some of the drama behind the scenes. I had not updated my iphone and needed to do so in order to download a major application for the show. Well, what ended up happening is my phone crashed! Thank God my dear best friend's husband, helped us bring my phone back to life. The only catch was I lost all my contacts. Names and numbers of models, all my helpers, my relatives, my friends, yup, all their numbers were gone. I've managed to resave some of them through going back and reading texts, but that was about it.

This happened on Thursday. Little did I know, my phone crashing was the least of my problems. At about midnight, I got a text from one of my models, who was scheduled to wear two outfits, saying she could no longer model. Say whaaaa? I was so angry. I texted my full time assistant, and my best friend Nazreen, at about 2:00am updating her on my model situation. I was feeling really sick, and angry. How could a model drop out the day before the show? I couldn't sleep, leave alone gather my thoughts on how to find another last minute model. My poor assistant, woke up to my text and felt the same way and was up trying to find a solution. She emailed one of our other team members, who was also trying to figure out what to do.


It's hard to put in to words how much a show drains you. As a student, I used to imagine finals being my only worry. A fashion show is worse than your worst and most difficult final. Because it takes a team to pull it together and you have to depend on other people, you expect failures, and bumps along the way. You worry about every little detail. You worry about models flying across the runway, not showing up on time, not having music, etc, etc. This was another one of those shows where we were faced with unexpected obstacles, and we over came them with the help of Allah. Once the model problem was solved, thanks to Nazreen, we were all pumped up and ready to put on the best show ever. 

Backstage, we were laughing, dancing, talking, and having the most fun ever. The models went out there and did the best job! They looked beautiful, and had fun doing it. Our youngest model was 2 years old. :-)

We are waiting on our photographers to release the runway photos, until then, here are a few iPhone pictures we wanted to share.

A huge thank you to everyone who worked so hard and was a part of the event. To all my models, you are the best, thank you for doing a great job show casing our collection!!! 

To those of you who were not able to attend the show or live on the other side of the world, we have great news, we have a video coming up soon!!!


Elif Kavakci for HijabiTopia

Me before the show, in front of our Comfijab Booth

The Fashion for Compassion runway 5 hours before the show, pre-decorations.

EK in KAVAKCI COUTURE being interviewed by Patti McLeiche before the show.

On the red carpet, before the show with Patti McLeiche

Our 2 models before the show :-)

Our youngest model is rehearsing on the cat walk before the show. Isn't she adorable Mashallah?

Backstage getting one of our models Mary ready for the show.

Reem Saenz, the make up artist at work!
It's show time!!! Our models are about to go on to the catwalk :-)
One of our models on the catwalk. A little peacock has landed on her shoulder :-)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

2 days left till our show!!!!

Hello Ladies,

There is only 2 days left till our fashion show in Dallas on Friday June 15th.  You can read our previous post here.

We are so excited and pumped up to be presenting our latest collection "Cupcakes & Tutus".

This show will be a lot different than our other shows. It will be more whimsical :-)

We have a great team we are working with. The Fashion for Compassion organisers are superb. In addition to all that, I am looking forward to working with the queen of photography Nicole Queen again. She will be taking all our runway photographs. You can check out her work on her site

The runway make up for our models will be done by the famous artist Reem Saenz. She is spectacular, she works her magic and waves her brush and puts every one's best face forward. :-) Her portfolio is very impressive. She recently did America's next top model, Hannah's make up for a photo shoot. Her work has been featured internationally all over prestigious magazines. Make sure to visit her website to see photos of her work

If you already follow us on face book and twitter, you are updated and getting your backstage pass to behind the scenes. We will be tweeting live from the event. So don't miss it.@hijabitopia

Until next time, the show must go on!!!

Elif Kavakci for HijabiTopia

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

70lbs Stronger

Red and Yellow Kettle Bells,
Brown Bulgarian Bag
at Browne Stone Fitness

I've been wanting to keep all of you posted on my boot camp work outs ever since my previous post. 

Since I enjoy working out, writing, and full time designing, I haven't been able to sit down and write a long post. But most of you who follow me on facebook and twitter, already get my updates on my extremely hard, yet fun work outs.

I share my updates with all of you because most of you have informed me that my boot camp diaries inspire you to work out, and live a healthier life.

I'm a believer in the fact that there is nothing more important in this life than YOU and your health. If we don't take care of ourselves as women and focus on our well being, then who will? I work out because that is the only time in my life when it's all about ME. At boot camp, I'm not a designer, I'm not a mom, I'm not a wife, I'm not a daughter, or a sister. I'm just me. It's almost like I push the freeze button on my life.

Boot camp is one of the hardest things I've ever done in my whole life physically. There are times I want to give up, to throw up, and other times I feel like I might pass out. But throughout the whole time, I'm happy. I'm happy because I'm stronger, I have more endurance, I'm healthier. Because I'm happy, I'm a better mom, a better wife, and a productive designer.

Since my first boot camp in October 2011, I can proudly say, "I've come a long way, baby". :-)

Today was a turning point for me personally. At boot camp we use kettle bell weights to do various exercises, one of which is the Dead Lift. Over time, we slowly go up with the weights. I remember back in January of 2012 when I started out forcing myself to lift a 16lb. kettle bell. It seemed so hard. But slowly, with the help of my wonderful instructors, the kettle bell started to feel like a basketball.

This morning as part of our morning circuit, I did Dead Lifts with the 70lb kettle bell. :-) That was only one of the circuits in my work out. But you know what, it made me so happy. I felt like Popeye the Sailor man with the huge strong muscles. Spinach anyone? :-)

My 70lb kettle bell which is approximately 32 kilograms

Take a deep breath Elif, ready, set, Lift!!!

I know, I make it look really easy :-) But just think, 70lbs weighs as much as an overweight hard case suitcase or an average 12 year old. Now think again. ;-)
Most of my friends have already started joining boot camp, or working out in the cities where they live, because I can not stop talking about what a blessing it is. Several of them already have the Browne Stone fitness boot camp dvd. My daughter also tried out kiddie boot camp with her friends, and loved it!

My daughter Janna and her friends at Kiddie Boot Camp with instructors Yaromil, and Hans
If you live in NYC, I strongly urge you to try a session with my wonderful instructors at Browne Stone Fitness.

If you live in another city, or on the other side of the world, please make an effort to take care of yourself. Because there is nothing in this life that's more important then a healthier You!

If you'd like to try out one of their work outs, you can order their work out video, or watch their you tube videos. It's only one click away :-)!/BrownstoneFitness

Elif Kavakci (aka Iron Woman ;-) 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Super Hijabi: Muna Abu-Sulayman

"Fashion does not define me. I define fashion. I use it, utilize it to suit me and not the other way around..."

Muna Abu-Sulayman is a young, successfull, hard working and beautiful hijabi. She is widely known in the middle east for her TV shows, and for her international activism as a UN good will ambassador. These are not Muna's only accomplishments. She is also a mother of 2 girls.

I first found out about Muna through my sister Merve. Since there are a few hijabi role models in the world, it was nice to often see Muna's pictures along with my sister's pictures in the social media  CLICK

Muna and I had emailed each other back and forth, discussing fashion plans and exchanging information for a few years up until her latest visit to NYC a few weeks ago when I finally had the honor of meeting her face to face.

Muna was in New York attending several meetings as the UN good will ambassador. It was a beautiful experience to see an accomplished hijabi role model who radiates beauty and keen intelligence.

Nowadays, the media portrays such a negative and unreal image of hijabis, which makes it all the more necessary for Muslim women in the public eye to represent a true image to set the record straight. Muna is a great example of a Muslim entrepreneur, mother and designer leading the way in the executive world.

As most of you know, Muna also has a beautiful fashion line that is available for purchase through her facebook page.

This is one of my favorite quotes from Muna. When asked about fashion in an interview here is what she says,

"Fashion does not define me. I define fashion. I use it, utilize it to suit me and not the other way around, but I can not deny that it was my fashion sense that first attracted viewers to my show"

Muna is on the cover page of Emel Magazine's June issue. You can read her inspirational interview by clicking the link below.

You can also follow Muna on her facebook fan page

and on twitter!/munaabusulayman

Elif Kavakci for HijabiTopia