EGYPTIAN DESIGNER MAHA ABDUL RASHEED TALKS TO MOJEH ABOUT BRIDGING STYLE AND CULTURE TO FIND A SENSE OF FREEDOM IN FASHION
As a young generation of style-savvy women shine the spotlight on modest fashion, the world is finally realising that modesty is about more than just covering up.
One woman making an art of her effortlessly-refined modest dressing is Dubai-based fashion designer and founder of Bambah boutique, Maha Abdul Rasheed. “I personally believe that modest fashion is not just about wearing the traditional black abaya,” says the 32-year-old Egyptian. “Ladies are now very creative and colourful with their modest wardrobes. Although it still meets the general modest criteria, both brands and consumers are having a lot of fun thinking outside the box and coming up with new styles and silhouettes that fall outside the regular black abaya frame.”
A purveyor of sophisticated dressing in the most modest sense, Maha has honed her understated aesthetic as she has matured, capturing it innately in the way she dresses. “The concept of modest clothing is very dear to my heart, as my own mother is veiled, and is always on the hunt for sophisticated and modest pieces that express her individuality. My mum has been veiled from before I was even born, so I basically grew up with the concept in my mind and heart,” explains Maha. “I see how she embraces the concept of modesty so beautifully. She gives priority to practicality and comfort, and she’s always so confident and effortless. She wears a lot of light colours, soft linen and pearl necklaces, with of course the most glamorous shoes ever. She rules the boardroom with her presence, and she makes me want to become stronger, kinder and wiser.”
And it is on her understanding of both the power and beauty of conservatism that she has based the framework and inspiration for Bambah’s Modest collection, putting out a line of consciously-crafted pieces for the modern modest woman.
“Modesty is definitely becoming a leading trend in the fashion world across all cultures and religions,” says Maha. “You’re very likely to see a Ramadan edit on the homepage of sites like Net-a-Porter, find a limited edition kaftan collection by designers like Temperley, or come across an entire abaya range by Dolce & Gabbana. It’s absolutely incredible.”
A firm believer that when it comes to fashion there shouldn’t be any rules, Maha’s achingly-chic aesthetic sees her masterfully navigating the line between understated and modest, yet easy, elegance. “I think it’s all about the overall look and how pieces fit together. I have a soft spot for ruffles, flowers, bows and polka dots and I like minimal make-up, natural hair, and distressed jeans,” she says, counting Loewe and Cos as two of her favourite brands.
“I don’t like putting in too much effort with fashion and I shy away from utter perfection. I like to see something ‘off’ in an outfit, and I love it when an outfit makes a strong statement that says something about the person: more about standing out than blending in.”