Muslim is such a stereotype. It is basically the default race when people think of terrorism. Think 911. Islam is actually a very peaceful religion.It was against the bleak backdrop that eventually led to some peace loving Muslims to restore the image of Islam into the gentle , compassionate and forbearing religion that is to respect for a religion that was once celebrated for its contribution to progress and social development.

The Islamic Fashion Festival (IFF) was conceptualised and launched in 2006 with an overall objective is to win the hearts and minds of Muslims and non-Muslims alike to not hate or reject and see Islam as restrictive and uncompromising. Its aim: ““To build an updated visual and cultural reference from which Islam can be related to the modern world through the creative arena of fashion divorced from political, economic and social strife”.

H.E. Datin Seri Dato’ Zainab Abdul Kader (Photo via Jane Uymatiao)

I was fortunate to watch a preview of the Islamic Fashion Festival held at the Hotel Intercontinental upon the invitation of Dato Seri Dr. Ibrahim Saad (Ambassador of Malaysia to the Philippines) and H.E. Datin Seri Dato’ Zainab Abdul Kader (Spouse of the Ambassador of Malaysia to the Philippines). Being a witness to its fresh and artful style that breaks the myth of an outdated and ill-adapted faith is just a breath of fresh air from the usual mundane fashion shows.

I have never felt hate or fear towards my Muslim brothers despite all the news. There has always been that deep admiration towards the inherent beauty and diversity of Islamic fashion and culture. In fact, when the occasion called for me to wear a Filipiniana dress at the Malacanang Palace and the State of the Nation Address, I chose a Muslim attire. I love warm colors, the embroidery and the patterns.

The IFF tagline, ““Discover the Beauty of Modesty”, invites the audience to get to know, understand and appreciate the call for women to cover up in Islam. The strategic intent is neither to preach nor convert but rather, to deliver the simple message that there is beauty in covering up at every level of modesty from slight to full.

Creative expression and interpretation among the designers exemplified the versatility and viability of dynamic Islamic fashion. Let me show you some of the fashion collections of top Kuala Lumpur designers Dato’ Tam Abang Saufi and Melinda Looi and Bali-based Milo Migliavacca referred to as ““The Original Prince of Batik Couture” together with the designs of their Filipino counterparts, JC Buendia, Jun Escario and Veejay Floresca. Jane shows a more extensive write-up of the collections of 7 designers

While the fashion showcases modesty, the IFF also subscribes to promoting moderation in Islam, best summarised by the Prime Minister of Malaysia, the Rt. Hon. Dato’ Sri Mohd. Najib Tun Abdul Razak:

I therefore urge us to embark on building a ““Global Movement of the Moderates” from all faiths who are committed to work together to combat and marginalize extremists who have held the world hostage with their bigotry and bias. We must, and I repeat, we must urgently reclaim the centre and the moral high ground that has been usurped from us. We must choose moderation over extremism. We must choose negotiations over confrontation. We must choose to work together and not against each other. And we must give this effort utmost priority for time is not on our side.” – (Excerpts from speech at the General Debate of the 65th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, New York, United States of America on 27th September, 2010)

It is quite interesting to see that the IFF is not just about fashion but promoting moderation in Islam and learning to appreciate its culture through the beauty of its culture and people.

How right he is. By focusing attention on its kaleidoscopic beauty, the message of Islam can be de-politicised and imbued with a gentler identity.

This brilliant multicultural tapestry of the Islamic diaspora needs to be shared with the international community to break down the negative Muslim stereotype.

Such gentle approach to the message of the beauty and gentleness of Islam through fashion. To see and experience the vibrancy of Islam is affirming my love for my Muslim brothers and sisters here and abroad.

Oh as an added bonus, Stephen Rahman Hughes crooned to everyone’s delight.

The journey continues. The Islamic Fashion Festival moves on to other countries as it brings together different ideas through its multi-religious and multi-cultural participants. Indeed, the Islamic Fashion Festival will provide a channel for meaningful exchange in celebration of the beauty in diversity.

I don’t consider myself a fashionista. I have never owned a single dress designed by a fashion designer, or designers slated to become the industry’s next big names. Probably the most expensive dresses I ever owned in my life was when I was single and I had a very generous father who doted on me and bought me trendy Ready-to-wear (RTW) clothes from Rustan’s Department store. The only fashion show I attended was in the UK when I was in my mid-twenties. I was struck with the cobalt-blue fashionable dresses that were presented before me and my sister. I am totally clueless when it comes to catwalk fashion though that doesn’t mean I don’t dress up in style.

So, what was I doing at Philippine Fashion Week Holiday Collection 2009? Well, maybe it was time to take that big leap of faith when it comes to choosing dress styles. Perhaps it was time to fantasize and imagine myself trying out unique creations. Secondly, I am in the lookout for fashion designers that use our local materials. There were just too many shows to cover but I narrowed myself down to Sunday’s show where I thought Premier Collection E might cover unique designs. I covered Premier Collection C but thought their designs were just too un-wearable for my taste.

Just as Premier Collection E started, US Ambassador Kristie Kenney took the vacant chair beside me in the “Reserved for Media” seats. Tessa Prieto seated across me motioned US Ambassador to move to her vacant chair but Kristie said she was fine seated beside me. The US ambassador turned to me, offered her hand and said “Hi, I am Kristie”. Oh wow, I found her so gracious and humble. I turned to the media man beside me and whispered “What’s her family name again?”. He was just as clueless as I was so I plurked and asked my plurk friends if they knew Kristie’s family name. Thanks plurk buddies.

The Buensalido PR provided me with a press kit before the show and it came in quite handy when I whispered some information to Kristie as the show unfolded. Like me, Kristie adored the designs that used native materials. Hmm, we seemed to have the same taste.

jaki penalosa
Jaki Peñalosa
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What exactly is the mommy look? Is there a fashion style for forty-something moms who have college kids? Often my girls tell me “but please don’t dress too young. You’re a mommy”. Then they also adviced me, “No mommy jeans look” as I shopped for new jeans. These kids can’t make up their mind. Should I not be “too style-ey” or dumpy looking? Then my husband goes “Nothing too revealing”. I can’t be too stylish, too sexy or too dumpy. Maybe they meant middle-of-the-road wasteland of clothing that’s “practical” yet “stylish”. The unsolicited advice is well taken of course, but I choose to shop for clothes that I like anyway. Based on this blog quiz, What’s Your Fashion Style?, I am girly.

Your Fashion Style is Girly

You dress to look beautiful and show off what you’ve got
Dresses, skirts, heels… whatever it takes to turn heads
You love feeling like a girl in any setting
Even your workout clothes are cute and feminine!

I like girly or feminine things but I don’t think I am kikay. What a word. If I were still a teen, I ‘d like to be groovy but I’d be in the dark ages if I still use that word. True, I dress to make myself look and feel good with certain limitations of course. I don’t wear plunging necklines in public places except in family parties. Pretty earrings and necklace has always been my thing even when I was single. So when that fashion trend was revived, I quickly added that to my collection.

If you noticed, I sport a new haircut (see here) . The hazards of driving the girls to their favorite hairstylist brought this transformation. The girls protested when I said it’s my turn to have a haircut. I warned the hairstylist “The girls don’t want me to sport a trendy look so cut it in a way that I will still look like a mommy”. Really, fashion style will never erase the fact that I am still a mother. I think the girls were used to my boring look during their childhood days. Things have changed now. Their daddy is getting more attractive to ahem , younger women as he gets older and wiser. Mommy has to continue to look good for herself and their daddy.

168 mallShopping with my daughters is always an opportunity to bond with them. Stress and worry from schoolwork sometimes makes it difficult for them to really talk to us. When I ask how they are , a usual reply is “okay lang”. I sometimes wonder if that means they are ok or they don’t feel like talking about it yet. When I notice a little downtime, I treat them to shopping or a rejuvenating spa. I suggest “Do you want to go shopping or need a massage?” More often than not, the sparkle in their eyes show that they appreciate this gesture. So this is what I told L . “Since you have no classes on Thursdays, maybe we can shop in Divisoria” .

shoppingOne unusual trait with L is her frugal nature. As a daughter, she is very generous giving everything she earns to us. But with! She refuses to buy “branded” clothes. Her favorite shopping places are Divisoria or the “ukay-ukay” (thrift stores). I even gave her money to buy Levi’s jeans but she won’t hear of it. I often tell her that she should own at least a pair of Levi’s jeans or splurge once a year on a branded dress. One day, she finally got a Levi’s jeans only because she got it at a discounted price from a fund raising project of their Katipunan Magazine. L only buys if it is a bargain. Haayy. Her logic is clothes are so trendy that the next month, they just go out of fashion. She doesn’t want to spend unecessarily on clothes, shoes or bags. Maybe she will change when she is working.

168 mallIsn’t it silly that a mother is practically telling her daughter to splurge a little more on clothes?

Today, we went to Divisoria to buy materials for her crotchet gift project she planned to give her friends. We dropped by 168 Shopping Mall to see if there was anything new with this mall. Right now, 168 mall has more stalls and more interesting shopping finds compared to our June shopping adventure. The problem was the deluge of christmas shoppers.

168 mallThe crowd at 9:00 AM was hampering our movements especially in the first floor. I bought two handbags and I could barely walk down the crowded aisles. Moving around was difficult. L bought a dress worth 250 pesos , a pair of shoes worth 200 pesos and a few belts and accessories. After buying my gym outfits, I discovered I could not continue shopping . (TIP: bring an assistant to help you carry the load) . We carried shopping bags that we could barely hold on to.

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