Pakistan first lady’s oath outfit was an Algerian-influenced design

Special Pakistan first lady’s oath outfit was an Algerian-influenced design
1 / 6
Imran Khan with wife Bushra Imran, nee Manika, on the morning of Aug. 16 at their residence. The couple arrived separately later that morning for the oath-swearing ceremony of Imran Khan as Pakistan’s 22nd prime minister. This image was shared by the official social media accounts of Imran Khan and Pakistan Tehreek-E-Insaf, and was widely picked up by both print and digital publications, fashion, news and Pakistani entertainment social media accounts.
Special Pakistan first lady’s oath outfit was an Algerian-influenced design
2 / 6
A collection of images of Bushra Imran throughout the oath-swearing ceremony and the official images released of her with a close-up of the emerald green ring she wore which caused a stir on Pakistan Twitter.
Special Pakistan first lady’s oath outfit was an Algerian-influenced design
3 / 6
Photographed at the president’s house following the ceremony, Bushra Imran’s outfit strongly resembles the national dress of Algeria and other North African nations, the Al-Hayek. The Al-Hayek is traditionally an all-white abaya-like garment usually made of silk or wool, which may or may not come with a face piece called the aadjar, which covers the whole face but not the eyes.
Special Pakistan first lady’s oath outfit was an Algerian-influenced design
4 / 6
It was pointed out by Algerian designer Nawara Bin Sulaiman that the outfit worn by Bushra Imran could have been influenced by the historic Algerian national dress for women, particularly with the shiny silk fabric, all-white palette and the draping of the niqab (face covering) piece.
Special Pakistan first lady’s oath outfit was an Algerian-influenced design
5 / 6
Bushra Imran enterring and taking a seat during her husband Imran Khan’s oath-swearing ceremony on Aug. 16.
Special Pakistan first lady’s oath outfit was an Algerian-influenced design
6 / 6
In the 1980's the al-Hayek saw a steady decline in wear with the more popular and widely seen hijab taking it's place.
Updated 25 August 2018

Pakistan first lady’s oath outfit was an Algerian-influenced design

Pakistan first lady’s oath outfit was an Algerian-influenced design
  • Imran Khan’s wife attended his oath ceremony in an all-white niqab reminiscent of the Al-Hayek
  • The outfit of Pakistan’s newly sworn-in premier’s wife, Bushra Manika, found itself the center of attention during her husband’s oath ceremony

ISLAMABAD: There is more than meets the eye to the outfit that sparked a Pakistani Twitterstorm.
Bushra Imran, nee Manika, third wife of Pakistan’s 22nd premier-elect Imran Khan, attended her husband’s oath-taking ceremony in what will possibly go down in history as the most hotly debated ensemble on Pakistan’s political stage.
Draped in an all-white, light-catching white niqab in silk and layered lace, the outfit was completed with white shoes, white nail polish, and even a white tasbeeh (prayer beads) wrapped around her wrist. The only color visible was the giant green emerald ring on her hand.
The outfit ignited both outrage and praise, but for some it was an exciting visibility of a national dress outside of Pakistan’s borders.
First confirmed by Algerian designer Nawara Bin Sulaiman and then by others, the outfit — from color to adornment — worn by Bushra Imran drew influence from the Algerian national dress known as "Al-Hayek."
The Al-Hayek is similar to the niqab in that it is a full-length ensemble complete with head covering. What separates the two is that an Al-Hayek is always white and made in silk, like the one worn by Bushra Imran, or wool, whereas the niqab is an all-black garment in a variety of fabrics, and the Al-Hayek is at times completed by an added covering for the face (bar the eyes) known as an aadjar.
Similar to the niqab, Al-Hayek was worn over clothes by women when leaving the house and heading to public spaces as a form of modesty and coverage.
Bushra Imran’s outfit paid homage to the traditional look, especially with her choice of face covering which took the shape of a triangle much like the way an aadjar would be tied with the Al-Hayek, the white color and the shiny, flowing silk fabric.
Though the look has been dying out in Algeria and neighboring north African countries — in the 1980s there was a strong shift toward the universally worn hijab — there has been some efforts to bring it back.
Following the back-and-forth commentary about Bushra Imran’s appearance and what it means as a public figure in Pakistan’s highest office, would the first lady's choice of niqab have an effect on Pakistan’s fashion industry?
"Personally (I found) it obnoxious for the mainstream conversation to be reducing female public figures to their wardrobe. The poise with which First Lady Bushra Maneka carried herself at her husband’s oath-taking ceremony served as the ultimate rebuttal to the stereotypical image of a burqa-clad woman as regressive and being subjected to patriarchal enforcement," said Mehek Raza Rizvi, editor-in-chief of fashion and lifestyle publication Mode.
"It may definitely inspire collections by designers to show their support and as an effort to put an end to derogatory words."
Hamza Ali Bokhari of Jeem held similar beliefs. "Let’s make this narrative more of women’s choices, let’s for once let women decide what they want to do with the body or clothes. As far as fashion is concerned, I’m sure many people who don the burqa would be very happy to have a smart intelligent woman as (a fashion) icon. It’s a great time in fashion when diversity and inclusivity is celebrated so well."
"Instead of boosting a modest fashion movement, I think it will definitely influence abaya collections," said designer Hussain Rehar.
Nawara Bin Sulaiman, the designer that first noted the striking influence, is actively bringing designs of the Al-Hayek back and working on preserving it as a part of Algerian culture.
The outfit holds a position of nostalgia with the people of Algeria, and is experiencing a small but warm revival, particularly among the college set and with certain fashion factions.