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At New York Fashion Week, 'Modest Fashion' Designer Makes Statement with Immigrant Models

Anniesa Hasibuan's latest latest runway featured models who were immigrants or children and grand children of immigrants.
Anniesa Hasibuan - Runway - February 2017 - New York Fashion Week: The Shows
Models walk the runway for the Anniesa Hasibuan collection during, New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery 2, Skylight Clarkson Sq on February 14, 2017 in New York City.Neilson Barnard / Getty Images for New York Fashio

Last September, Anniesa Hasibuan made history by designing the first all-hijab fashion show at New York Fashion Week.

But the Muslim designer, who hails from Jakarta, Indonesia, wasn't looking to make history with her debut. “I just wanted to show the world that there is no difference between Muslim fashion and other fashion, and that the hijab can be a part of mainstream [style]," Hasibuan told NBC News. "I had faith that the American audience would appreciate my work."

"I wanted to celebrate the diversity of the American people and the story of the American dream unfolding on the runway."

This season, the designer has made another statement with her collection in response to the current rhetoric in the United States surrounding immigration. In her show, which took place on Feb. 14, Hasibuan chose to look for models who are immigrants or first- and second-generation Americans.

"We put out a casting call for models on work visa, immigrant models and first or second generation models, but all were welcome and no one was turned away," a spokesperson for Hasibuan said.

"I wanted to celebrate the diversity of the American people and the story of the American dream unfolding on the runway," Hasibuan said.

Once again, every look on Hasibuan’s runway featured the hijab.

Through her work, the designer seeks to deconstruct the negative misconceptions of Muslim women. “Muslim women and people are the same as any others, the only difference is the religion," Hasibuan said. "When you see my Muslim-inspired collections, do those collections hurt you? Do the models who wear hijabs make you feel hurt? I am celebrating my interpretation of fashion and style and I hope it inspires everyone to wear what makes them feel comfortable.”

Hasibuan added that she aims to design for every woman, and that she wants women to feel as if they can show their character, confidence, and personal style through their clothes. Modest dressing doesn’t mean only wearing abayas (long garments that cover women from the throat to their feet) or long dresses, she noted. “It’s about dressing how you want, what you feel comfortable in, but still covering yourself," she said. "I think every Muslim individual [approaches] modesty differently.”

This season, Hasibuan wanted to celebrate diversity to reach all women.

“The message for my collection is [to encourage] women to be strong and confident," she said. "Though I might style the garments in a way that caters to my core customer of modest fashion followers, I design my collection with separates that can be adapted for Western styles. I hope that Muslim or not, [women] will find beauty in my work.”

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