Books and films and television shows such as The Devil Wears Prada, Zoolander and Project Runway portray the fashion world as a shallow, cold, bitchy place. But then you meet people like the gracious gals at Fashion Fighting Famine who use the industry as a conduit to create real, positive good in the world. With executive director Nida Chowdhry and adviser Asmaa Hassanein at the helm, the organization hosts an annual runway show and market showcasing the talents of Muslim designers, with the proceeds benefitting various charities.
Entering its sixth year, the event features volunteer models of all ages, body types and ethnicities showing off modest but fashion-forward looks. The organizers seek to redefine the standard definition of beauty with their events by empowering the female entrepreneurs who design the clothing as well as the women who wear them. Los Angeles-based line RAYAN was founded by two sisters and specializes in retro-inspired, long-sleeved formal dresses. Abaya Addict, based in Chicago and Dubai, offer beautiful dresses, pants and jumpsuits in festive prints and bold colors. SixteenR of Los Angeles shows off eclectic and artistically designed "headscarves that empower." After the runway show and a live performance by Malaysian singer/songwriter Yuna Zarai, attendees are invited to shop the looks at a pop-up market, the "Shop for a Cause" bazaar.
Finding fashionable yet feminine clothing is difficult for the Muslim women of Orange County, but everything for sale at the bazaar is halal. It's a mutually beneficial cause: women can feel confident with their elegantly modest clothing while the proceeds go to charity. This year's show will support New Star Family Center, a Hawthorne-based family assistance group that provides resources for foster care families, adoptive parents and victims of domestic violence. In the past, Fashion Fighting Famine has benefitted One Laptop Per Child and the Widow's Cooperative Program in Mali. Looking good while doing good? May Allah and the Prophet (pbuh) bless these righteous sisters.
Fashion Fighting Famine, 2013 Fashion Show, at Hyatt Regency Irvine, 17900 Jamboree Rd., Irvine; www.fashionfightingfamine.com. March 31, 3-11 p.m. $50-$80 in advance; $85-$100 at the door.
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