Hijab-Wearing Model Halima Aden Makes Runway Debut at YEEZY Season 5

Hijab-Wearing Model Halima Aden Makes Runway Debut at YEEZY Season 5

The Muslim model is starting an important conversation in the modeling industry.

The Muslim model is starting an important conversation in the modeling industry.

Text: Jake Viswanath

Halima Aden is making history in the fashion world and doing it on her own terms. Yesterday, the Muslim model walked in Kanye West’s YEEZY Season 5 show at the conclusion of New York Fashion Week, in her own hijab no less. This marks the runway debut for the emerging 19-year-old model, who is bound to make her own stamp in the industry after recently signing with IMG.

Aden, who was born in a Kenyan refugee camp, made headlines when she became the first Miss Minnesota contestant to compete wearing a hijab and a burkini. The pageant had previously featured Muslim women, but the Somali-American model set herself apart with her choice to don hijab-wear and refusal to wear clothing she didn’t feel comfortable or modest in, showing an unapologetic dedication to her religious beliefs.

While this is not the first time a Hijabi woman has walked during NYFW, West’s choice to feature her in his show puts Hijabi women on a larger platform in the fashion industry than ever before. As Vogue Runway director Nicole Phelps noted, it was her first time seeing a woman wear a hijab after 20 years of attending runway shows. Aden will make her editorial debut on the pages of Carine Roitfeld's CR Fashion Book issue 10 this spring (Roitfeld styled the YEEZY Season 5 show, and CR's casting director Evelien Joos cast it).

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Aden adds another dimension to West’s diverse set of models that he features in his YEEZY shows. West has always prided himself in celebrating diversity and showcasing people of all races, genders, colors, religions, and sexualities in whichever way we can, even if he occasionally botches his approach. The move aligns with his boycott of major institutions like the Recording Academy when they fail to recognize the achievements of people of color in favor of white artists, as occurred at the Grammys this week, which West declined to attend. While diversity on the runway is not only increasing, but demanded, it's West who seems to keep breaking barriers in the fashion world before his contemporaries.

By including Aden in her hijab, West not only emphasizes the importance of highlighting people from all walks of life once again, but he helps to establish a space in the fashion world where all Muslim women are celebrated. In the face of the Islamophobic social climate that Trump and his supporters have created, it’s more important than ever to ensure that Muslims are not just accepted, but embraced. Not all Muslim women wear hijabs, but Aden’s decision to don hers on every platform she can spotlight the beauty and power of the headgear when it is a woman’s proud choice.

“I wanted to spread a positive message about beauty and diversity, and to show other young Muslim women that there is room for them,” Aden said to Business of Fashion. She’s doing exactly that by claiming her own space in the fashion world, one which will represent all Muslim women and celebrate their individual beliefs. Hopefully, others will soon join her. She’s got a long and exciting journey ahead.

@araweelostudio

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