Like many other American Muslims, North Texan native Zeena Alkurdi faced a difficult struggle with her identity after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Having worn the hijab since she was in sixth grade, Zeena felt that it was a part of her. So when her father asked whether she wanted to take a break from wearing the headscarf, she broke down in tears.
After she graduated from university, 22-year-old Zeena decided to start an online hijab shop, Pearl Boutique. Her aim was to design stylish hijabs that make Muslim girls feel more confident in their Islamic clothing while blending in to the American lifestyle. Zeena had discovered through her own experience that by mixing fashion and faith, a Muslim woman was not simply creating a fashion statement, but was also empowered to foster dialogues with non-Muslims who were curious about her religion.
The design of Zeena’s scarves is inspired by the bold styles of Kim Kardashian. Pearl Boutique was equally inspired by another bold figure, Muhammad Ali. He was quoted as saying to his daughter that as an oyster covers the precious pearl, she should be covered, too.
Last month, Zeena and a friend, designer Ndaa Hassan, hosted a fashion show, ‘Fashion for Compassion’. The women-only charity fashion event showcased the latest collections from Pearl Boutique and Ndaa’s boutique, Écharpe à la Mode. Other participating labels were Inayah, Miss Universe Boutique, Inner Orbit Systems by Yasmina Johnston, For the Desert Roses, Le Chic, Wahat Al Jalabiya, Silk Threads, November Lily Bridal, Zeena (not related to organiser Zeena Alkurdi) and, last but not least, Kavakci Couture, a Turkish brand that serves high-end clients, such as the first lady of Turkey. All proceeds from the event were donated to Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation.
Images courtesy of Tasneem Dahduli Photography
This article was updated on July 14, 2012 to include Zeena in the list of participating fashion brands.