Ghana sisters blending style, tradition for Muslim women

In this photo taken Monday Jan. 22, 2018, Sekina Abam a muslim hijab fashion designer helps a customer to set up a hijab in her workshop in Accra, Ghana. (AP)
Updated 01 February 2018
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Ghana sisters blending style, tradition for Muslim women

ACCRA: Two sisters in Ghana are creating Islamic-friendly fashion from the locally produced fabrics that are wildly popular across West Africa.
Sekina Abam, 27, said it can be difficult for women in Ghana to avoid discrimination when wearing the Islamic headscarf known as the hijab. Muslims make up 18 percent of the population.
She and her 32-year-old sister Nefisa found that many hijab options sold in the markets of the capital, Accra, came from outside the country. None came in the vibrant print fabrics for which Ghana is internationally known.
“I said to myself, ‘Why not come up with something from myself that will meet the hijab rules while using African prints?’” she recalled.
Now she and her sister share a workshop where they turn out colorful headscarves and flowing, conservative dresses. Sekina is in charge of the clothing line known as Libaas Hilaan that includes everything from casual wear to special occasion apparel, while Nefisa directs the Nefeesah Hijab brand.
Hijabs sell between 30 ($6.50) and 100 ($22) Ghana cedis, while dresses and abayas can sell for as much as 850 cedis. To meet the steady demand for their product after five years, the sisters are now helped by their mother and two other workers.
In recent years, Muslim women in Ghana have been able to wear the hijab more freely at school and in the workplace. In 2015, former President John Mahama proclaimed freedom of faith, opening the way for more displays of religion in the secular country.
For the Abam sisters, the struggle is to find the right balance between fashion and Islam, being mindful of tradition while making something that younger women will feel comfortable wearing on the streets of Accra.
“A woman naturally wants to look beautiful, and coming from an African setting where is Islam is minimal like in Ghana here, it’s difficult for her to wear black or something that is print-less, design-less,” Sekina said. “She wants to fit in but she also wants to try to obey God a bit. So I decided to come up with these designs that would meet such needs.
“The idea is to make it easy for our Muslim sisters and mothers to wear their hijab so that they will be always motivated to wear the hijab,” Nefisa added.


The Six: Red carpet rewind

Emma Stone at the 2015 Academy Awards. (AFP)
Updated 20 February 2019
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The Six: Red carpet rewind

DUBAI: We recount some of our favorite Arab-designed gowns to grace the Oscars’ red carpet.

Halle Berry

Berry made history in 2002 when she became the first black woman to win the Oscar for Best Actress. She wore a now iconic Elie Saab burgundy gown with a see-through corset and floral detailing for the occasion.

Jennifer Lopez

Lopez presented at the 2012 ceremony and turned heads in a beautiful white Zuhair Murad dress embellished with sequins and featuring a plunging neckline and figure-hugging cut.  

Lady Gaga

Always one to shine, Lady Gaga showed up to the 2015 show wearing a white Azzedine Alaia dress with red dishwashing gloves.

Emma Stone

Stone wore a beautiful green-hued Elie Saab gown to the 2015 ceremony. The embellishments, cut and fall of the fabric made the dress a whimsical and dreamy number to remember.

Jenna Dewan

At the 2014 awards show, Dewan wore a mermaid style Reem Acra gown that was tight fitting and embellished with feathers and sequins.

Chrissy Teigen

The always elegant Teigen wore a white Zuhair Murad dress with a high split to the 2017 ceremony show. The gown featured metallic detailing and a gold belt to cinch in the waist.