Egyptian TV unveils fashion crossover

When Dream TV in Egypt launches “Jumanah,” its new fashion show for veiled women on May 1, many of the country’s leading actresses will be hitting the catwalk covered up and wearing the traditional hijab scarf.

Fashion and veils?

One can only imagine what Joan Rivers would make of it, but that’s the unique concept behind a new Egyptian multimedia project.

“Jumanah” also will offer a fashion magazine and a Web site.

Working under the credo “Veiled is beautiful,” project manager Nesrine Samara says the show and its accompanying media grew out of her own realization that “I can have religious beliefs, but it doesn’t mean I have to look ugly. This way I can feel closer to God and still be fashionable and look good.”

A 27-year-old political science graduate from the American U. of Cairo, Samara wears a veil and typifies a growing trend among some modern, educated Middle Eastern women who in recent years have increasingly turned back to the traditional religious outfit.

“Although the fashion industry is covered by much of the media in the region,” Samara says, “there was nothing that catered to our interests. We realized that there were many females like myself who wanted to see a publication and attend a fashion show that was made especially for them.”

Jumanah’s pages are filled with colorful, vibrantly designed veils, making the case for traditional garb as contemporary style. But Samara doesn’t see the style spreading to Western, non-Islamic buyers anytime soon.

“Maybe one day it will move away from having a religious connotation like with the Indian sari, where it is both cultural and religious,” she says. “But at the end of the day the hijab is religious dress.”

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