Business of Fashion handpicks Mideast powerhouses

US-based organization the Business of Fashion has released its sixth annual index of the people shaping the global fashion industry. (AFP)
Updated 11 September 2018

Business of Fashion handpicks Mideast powerhouses

DUBAI: US-based organization the Business of Fashion has released its sixth annual index of the people shaping the global fashion industry — and Saudi powerhouse Marriam Mossalli made the cut alongside three other women from the Middle East and a bevy of men from the region.

Known as the BoF 500, the index is widely regarded as the go-to list of international fashion’s who’s who.

Featured for the first time, alongside 95 other new names on the list, Saudi national Mossalli started her career as a journalist, before founding luxury consultancy agency Niche Arabia in 2011.

According to the Business of Fashion website, “Mossalli’s entrepreneurial company has been praised as a key player in elevating the global status of the Saudi Arabian fashion industry.”

Born in Sri Lanka, Mossalli lived in Korea and Malaysia before attending boarding school in Switzerland and eventually moving to Washington to study at George Washington University. After taking on positions at Arab News, the fashion heavyweight went on to write, curate and edit a series of books, including “Under The Abaya,” which features streetstyle images submitted by Saudi women.

“It’s moments like these that reaffirm one’s career choices and truly humble oneself. This goes to you, Saudi Arabia — my home, our future!” Mossalli wrote on Instagram.

“I’m humbled by the honor to represent the Khaleej as a new addition to the prestigious BoF 500 list! It’s such an honor and a true benchmark in my decade-long career to have this validation from the global fashion community,” she added in a statement to Arab News.

Mossalli joins three other women from the region who have been singled out by the organization, including Egyptian-Sudanese model Anok Yai, fashion editor Jamila Halfichi and Moroccan entrepreneur Salwa Idrissi Akhannouch.

Their achievements were celebrated at a gala dinner on the sidelines of New York Fashion Week on Monday — a celebrity-filled party that was attended by the likes of Somali-American model Halima Aden, model sisters Gigi and Bella Hadid, Canadian model Winnie Harlow and British model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley.

“For the sixth annual BoF 500, we focused on the change agents building and shaping a better fashion industry,” said Imran Amed, founder and chief executive of Business of Fashion. "There’s no doubt it has been a challenging time for the fashion business, a time for reflection. But, as we discovered in putting this issue together, there are many positive stories to tell and we are very happy to tell them.”


British hijab-wearing model Mariah Idrissi has it covered

Updated 17 August 2019

British hijab-wearing model Mariah Idrissi has it covered

  • “Saudi Arabia is a blessed land both physically and spiritually,” Idrissi said
  • “I would love to be a part of changing some of the stereotypes around the country through my work in fashion and film,” Idrissi commented

LONDON: Born in North West London to Moroccan and Pakistani parents, model Mariah Idrissi has made quite a name for herself – starring in campaigns for major high street retailers, hosting TED Talks and sharing snaps of her travels with her 88,000 Instagram followers.
The hijab-wearing model has been vocal about her preference for modest fashion and spoke to Arab News about her style, faith and achievements.
“I wear hijab to represent my faith, my culture, and because I genuinely love the idea of modest dress,” she said. “I think it’s important to feel comfortable in what you wear and also not lose a sense of your personality, hence why there is so much diversity in modest styles.”


Her breakthrough came when she was scouted in a shopping center. She did not think it would lead to anything; however, she was casted for an H&M ad. “The campaign went viral. From that moment I realized how little the media represented Muslims, and if they did it was often negative. That motivated me to continue to pursue a career in fashion and change the narrative around how hijab is viewed in the West,” she explained.
She also gave her first significant public speech in 2016, a TEDxTeen live-streamed to millions, about how modest clothing has now become a trend. Idrissi believes the fashion industry is catering more to women who want modest wear than it did a decade ago.
“I feel it is definitely improving,” she said. “Summertime can still be a little bit of a struggle in comparison to autumn and winter which is cooler, so there is still room for improvement.”


After her breakthrough with H&M, Idrissi went on to participate in projects with leading brands, including MAC Cosmetics and M&S in the Middle East. She also looks forward to working on projects in Saudi Arabia when an opportunity arises.
“Saudi Arabia is a blessed land both physically and spiritually. I feel there is so much potential and opportunity. I would love to be a part of changing some of the stereotypes around the country through my work in fashion and film,” Idrissi said.
She is now working on a few film projects, both features and documentaries, to continue challenging negative stereotypes around Muslims.


Moreover, she aims to inspire other potential modest models and advises them to always ask why before embarking on this path. Asking why has helped her on this career journey because even through difficult times, she was able to push forward.
As her upbringing has taught her, Idrissi is demonstrating that modernity and progression are not in conflict with tradition and customs: They are two sides of the same coin.