Royal Wrapsody helps women get off to a head start
Marcia Stowe began wearing a head wrap 20 years ago.
A recent convert to the Islamic faith, she made the decision to dress more modestly as an act of obedience to God.
“I was a little timid about wearing a head wrap at first, because I was working in corporate America at the time and wasn't sure how my co-workers would react, but to my surprise everyone was accepting,” she said. “I didn't have any problems.
“I worked at an insurance company back then and didn't really know if it would put my job in jeopardy to wrap my hair. That was one of my first thoughts because there were no hard-or-fast rules as to whether we could cover our heads.
“A few weeks into it though, I started to feel a lot more confident and play with different head-wrap styles, colours and fabrics. That's when I started to add a little flair to it.”
The owner of Modestique clothing store in Hamilton teamed up with Ameenah Ahad and Tearna Givens, fellow members of community group Al-Mu'minaat Women of Faith, to host a fashion show featuring head wraps.
Royal Wrapsody takes place tomorrow at Victor Scott Primary School auditorium, from 2pm until 4.30pm.
Al-Mu'minaat held a similar event last year. Detroit-based anthropologist Zarinah El-Amin Naeem then explained how head-wrapping is used around the world, not just for religious purposes but for culture and fashion.
More than 100 women turned up for the seminar, with many expressing interest in a follow-up event.
“Tomorrow's event will be just as interactive as it was last year,” said Mrs Stowe.
“Last time, our speaker did a brief presentation and slide show with photos of different people and cultures from around the world that wrap their heads and the purpose behind it — one being religion, with Muslims, Catholic nuns, Sikhs and also, in certain parts of Africa, women wear a head wrap to honour their faith.
“It's also a part of their traditional dress and the culture and we were taught that the vibrancy of the colours also means something. It's not just women, but men also cover their heads, including some Indians and Arabs. It's a form of sun protection and a way to protect themselves from the winds and sand.”
She promises that the fashion will take this year's event to another level.
“We thought this time around we would incorporate clothing to show people how to put these items together and appreciate different styles of dress,” said Mrs Ahad.
“We know this does come at the end of the City of Hamilton's Fashion Week, but I think we have something completely different to offer in that we are not appealing to mainstream fashion.
“Royal Wrapsody is to celebrate women, and to show they can be glamorous and modest and represent whatever it is that is important to them, be it their culture or religion.”
Mrs Ahad clearly remembers the day she started wearing a hijab to honour her faith. It was the late 1970s and she was working in the Department of Social Services. Although she got one or two surprised looks, overall everyone was accepting of her choice.
“I also lived in the United States for a long time and there are some rough parts of the US but, because the Nation of Islam was so established out there, if some rough guys saw me coming in my hijab they would move out the way and say, ‘OK sister'. It commanded respect and covering my head actually made me feel quite safe.
“I guess it was a statement that I had gone full-fledged in my faith and for that reason I had confidence in covering my head. My family and everyone also accepted it.”
Head-wrapping has since emerged as a style in its own right. Sites such as YouTube and Pinterest show myriad ways to wrap, whether it's a simple bun or a more complex style, like the Nigerian Gele.
“Today, there is more focus on Afrocentric dress and along with that comes head-dressing,” Mrs Stowe said. “More people are getting in touch with their roots and being proud of where they come from.
“This event is open to all women — no matter what their faith or background. It's about coming together to bond, make new friends and to recognise that even though we may not dress the same or believe the exact same things, we have certain commonalities that unite us.”
•Tickets to Royal Wrapsody, $25, can be purchased at Brunswick Street Bakery or Modestique, open 10am to 6pm at 32 Cedar Avenue. Women are encouraged to bring their own fabrics to practise wrapping. Proceeds from the event will go towards repairs of the Masjid Muhammad Roof, after damaged caused by storms last year