Dress and necklaces (3), womens, chiffon / satin / Swarovski crystal, dress designed and made by Integrity Boutique, Sydney, New South Wales, necklaces designed and made by Adorne, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, 2011
This leopard print dress was designed and made by Integrity Boutique, a modest evening and formal wear retailer located in Bankstown Centro, Sydney as part of their 2011 Eid range. Founded by Muslim sisters Hanadi Chehab and Howayda Moussa, the idea for the Integrity Boutique fashion label emerged after Howayda decided to put on the headscarf at the end of 2008. "I've always loved fashion and I love to wear nice, classy clothes, but it was missing in the market...". Howayda admitted that she struggled to find clothing that was both modest and fashionable. In response to this, she and her sister setup Integrity Boutique with the vision to make beautiful, feminine clothes which adheres to Muslim dress requirements, while also following mainstream fashion trends.
In contrast to the more traditional Islamic dress retailers, Integrity Boutique take a fresh and all-encompassing approach, through their fashion designs, retail environment and marketing, which also targets non-Muslim women. In advertising, for example, one of their key promotional posters features a young, unscarfed woman in modest dress casually tossing a scarf into the air, providing a careful and subtle, yet also very sophisticated reference, to Muslim women and the Islamic faith. This inclusiveness is also reflected in their shop design and name. The word 'Integrity' is devoid of any Muslim or Arab-specific connotations, yet it still retains the important messages associated with the Muslim faith (having good morals and being honest and fair), while the shop fitout and interior with its black and white striped wallpaper and Louis XVI reproduction chairs is inspired by the French style.
This particular dress, along with Integrity Boutique's leopard print dress, has been one of their best selling garments. Only ten were made altogether, reflecting the high quality and care Hanadi and Howayda like to invest in each of their pieces. The dress also beautifully captures Hanadi and Howayda's distinctive design approach. "All our designs are very influenced by Chanel for the use of pearls and black and white, as well as Alannah Hill. We love the really girly, feminine and flowery look...". The acquisition of this dress contradicts mainstream media representations of Muslim women's dress as dominated by the black burqa. It shows that Muslim women like to dress in diverse ways and are engaged with local and global fashion trends which they adapt to suit their personal style and Islamic values. The dress also helps to show how modest dress is a growing market for non-Muslim women, who similarly want to dress stylishly, but with that extra coverage.
This leopard print dress was designed and made by Integrity Boutique, Sydney, Australia for their 2011 Eid collection. Eid is the celebration which takes place at the end of Ramadan (one of the five pillars of Islam), which is characterised by a month of fasting from sunrise to sunset. It is a tradition for Muslim women to buy at least one new outfit for Eid which they wear to various gatherings over the three official days of celebration, including praying at the mosque and eating at home with family and friends.
The dress is made from chiffon with black satin lining and is designed to be worn with the three accompanying black and bronze Swarovski beaded necklaces designed by Adorne jewellery in Brisbane, Queensland.
According to designer-owners Hanadi Chehab and Howayda Moussa, the inspiration for this dress started with the leopard skin print fabric. "I saw the fabric and immediately had a vision of the dress. I loved the jungle feel and wanted to create some drapery...leopard print is so in at the moment". As with all their fabrics, the leopard print was sourced from China, but all the manufacturing and production takes place in Sydney.
Only twenty of the leopard print dresses were made, thus retaining the feel of individuality and high quality, handmade garments which Integrity Boutique prides themselves on.
Integrity Boutique, a designer-retailer specialising in modest evening and formal wear for women, was founded by Muslim sisters Hanadi Chehab and Howayda Moussa (both of Lebanese background) in 2009. The idea for their fashion label emerged after Howayda decided to put on the headscarf at the end of 2008. "I've always loved fashion and I love to wear nice, classy clothes, but it was missing in the market...I couldn't find any stylish clothes that I wanted to wear which had the extra long sleeves and length". Only two weeks before deciding to wear the scarf, Howayda was holidaying in Hawaii. It was the sudden and unexpected passing of a close friend, however, that made her turn closer to her religion. "It was a fast transition to wearing the scarf and I suprised everyone...I actually had a dream [after her friend's loss] of the Virgin Mary wearing a scarf. Next morning, I realised I didn't have any scarves at home, but went out and got some!". As a result of this, and also their genuine love of fashion, Hanadi and Howayda decided to setup Integrity Boutique with the vision of making beautifully made, feminine clothes which both adheres to Muslim dress requirements and mainstream fashion trends.
Integrity's first retail outlet was located in South Terrace, Bankstown (Bankstown is a suburb in south-west Sydney which has a high Muslim population). "We decided to setup in a smaller shopping village because we didn't want to risk too much when we weren't even sure of what the market response would be". The location did not have any ill-effects on the business, however, as word-of-mouth stimulated a large loyal customer base which encouraged their move to a mainstream shopping mall, Bankstown Centro, at the beginning of August 2011.
The name 'Integrity Boutique' was chosen for its broad appeal (it is not necessarily Muslim nor Arab-specific) in addition to its embodied values of honesty, pride and self-respect. "We came up with lots of names, but Googled 'modesty' and ended up with 'integrity'! We liked the fact that it is an inclusive name...and when people pass by our shop, it appeals to everyone, not just Arab Muslims". This is also reflected through the design of their shop. It has a very French shabby chic feel with bold vertical black and white wallpaper, luxurious looking carpet and ornate furnishings including a hanging chandelier. "We're all about being feminine and classy and we want to stand out from other retailers".