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December 27, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
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Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt December 27 2015
By Naballah Chi
Makeup by: Afeisha Morgan
Photography by: Luis Young
HAJJAR SULIEMAN DE SILVA debuted her modest Muslim col-
lection at the Red Runway Fashion Gala last month. She is mar-
ried with one son. She lost her father at age 16, and her mother
owns her own business. She plans to do the same.
WOW - How did you get into fashion?
Watching Project Runway and other local designers do their thing.
Whenever Eid came around I would never buy an outfit; I would al-
ways design something and take that design to a seamstress to
bring the garment to life. As the years passed my passion for de-
sign and fashion grew drastically, along with my desire to manufac-
ture my own garments. I challenged myself and decided to produce
some Eid garments for my sisters, sister-in-law and my cousin. I
showed the pieces I made to a friend (Tifa AKA LaLa), on Face-
book. She told me about Red Runway and suggested that I enter.
So I said this is it; I’m going to own my own line of clothing. I named
it after my husband and myself, hence the name Danjar’s.
Where did you learn your craft?
I am studying Dressmaking and Design at MIC Institute of Tech-
nology. I have two instructors: Ms Carol Mitchell and Mr. Collin
Johnson. Ms Mitchell taught me basically everything I know
about sewing. She is a great teacher and a wonderful friend. Mr.
Johnson and Ms Mitchell are drill sergeants; they will go through
your garments and find every problem and demanded it be re-
paired. But I totally understand that they want the finished look
to be perfect, and I thank them for that.
Tell us about your collection, Pretty Muslimah
Muslimah means female Muslim, hence, my collection Pretty
Muslimah represents covered and still beautiful. Muslims and
non-Muslims can rock my pieces and look elegant without hav-
ing to show a lot of skin to look fashionable.
How would you describe your design aesthetic?
Painted, tie-dyed and some over-the-counter fabrics, for slim,
short, tall, and plus-sized ladies.
Where do you go for inspiration?
I do not have a particular place; life is in itself. Looking at other
people passing by, watching other designs in stores or online,
going to the beach, watching television, I am inspired to do my
own stuff. This will never be a job for me, as I love creating my
own pieces and watching the expression of people when I show
my pieces to them. It’s priceless.
How do you explain Islamic Fashion to Non-Muslims?
We are not to be exposed; however, that does not mean we are
not fashionable. A myth about Islamic fashion is that Muslim
women should only wear black. The truth is we can be modestly
covered with colours. Islamic fashion should not be a dazzling
display. You can be covered and still look beautiful.
For some people, fashion contradicts modesty. What do you
have to say about this?
Fashion does not contradict modesty. Look at the some of the
leading women of the world, like the Queen of England, Princess
Diana and Michelle Obama. These women dress fashionably and
modestly at the same time.
Have you received any negative feedback as a Muslim fashion
designer from the Muslim community? If yes, how did you
deal with it?
I would not call it negative, because being Muslim means to take
admonishment from another Muslim brother or sister. I would
call them reminders that I am Muslim and I am representing
Islam. I sometimes tend to drown myself in my work and get car-
ried away, but Allah is so merciful He sends me reminders to
keep me on the right path. I am only human and I will make mis-
takes. I take the counsel with respect.
What advice would you give to young designers?
I am twenty-six, so I would consider myself young, LOL. I would
tell them no matter what... go for your dreams, because some-
times people who love you and are looking out for your interests
might give you an advice that may not align with your dreams.
That doesn’t mean they don’t care; it just means that you have
to prove to them otherwise.
What’s next for Danjar’s Designs?
Inshallah, Danjar’s Designs is going to the next step: expansion, a
number of surprises in store for every Muslim and Non-Muslim
woman. Finally, I would like to thank some people who have been
supportive to me into this new venture. All my helpers: Haja
Hasan, Ria Allick, Afeisha Morgan, Azizah Charles, Tisha Samuel,
Annah, Ayana, and Marissa Sulieman. My classmates: Cretia
Jupiter, Kimberly Nancoo-Dennis, Vanessa Allen, Kizzie Grappie,
Yasana Stafford-James, Nichola Singh-Bernard. My teachers: Mr.
Colin Johnson and Ms. Carol Mitchell, and last but not least, my
loving and supportive husband, Danelle De Silva.
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