San Francisco's de Young Museum reveals Muslim fashion exhibit

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- For millions of women in the Muslim world, fashion is a passionate blend of what's seen and unseen. And at new exhibit at the de Young Museum, visitors can experience a unique weaving of faith, modesty, and extravagant beauty.

Stylist Saba Ali helped lay out the exhibit. "And they're all tied together under the guise of Muslim fashion. And I think that's really beautiful because there's so many different regions," says Ali.

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There are more than 80 ensembles from nearly every continent. Many are influenced by culture as much as religion, with flowing lines and splashes of exotic color, which curators say is often startling to Western eyes.

"There is, I think, in popular culture a thread that Muslim women are covered in dark swaths of fabric, and I think a lot of those popular notions are really dispelled if you come to this show," believes Associate Curator Laura Camerlengo.

And for some designers, it's also an opportunity for fashion diplomacy.

"I think American people have, sorry to say, Islamic phobia, and with this kind of exhibition, they can be more appreciative," said Okky Asokawati, a former model.

But if perceptions are changing, so are the variations of Muslim fashion itself, with a nod to a younger generation of women -- embracing sports, and mixing the traditional with the feel of pop culture. Designer Dian Pelangi is an internet star in Indonesia and wants Western cultures to understand the vibrant evolution of Muslim fashion.

"We want to change people's perception about the hijab itself. When people say it's an oppression, that people who wear hijab are oppressed, we're trying to say we still can be, everyone can be anything with hijab also," says Pelangi.

And like the fashions themselves, the exhibit reveals hidden beauty in unexpected ways.

For more on the exhibit, visit this page.
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