In the entrance way of Petroff Palace – a stately architectural gem located in the heart of Moscow that once served as a resting place for czars and noblemen – a sumptuously dressed crowd flutters about the majestic expanse sipping on berry-tinted, non-alcoholic refreshments, a courtesy to Muslim guests. In the adjoining halls, chairs neatly line the walls, and guests – a glamorous crop of local celebrities and members of the Chechen elite – find their seats, tuck away their congratulatory bouquets, and await eagerly for the forthcoming fashion show. Old-world grandeur and regal suavity abound, the scene befits a Disney princess.
Lavishness and exclusivity aside, pulling off an event of this scale is tricky for even a seasoned designer, let alone a newcomer. But Firdaws designer Aishat Kadyrova is in a league of her own, and as the daughter of Ramzan Kadyrov – leader of Russia’s predominantly Muslim region of Chechnya – she has the right connections and resources to turn a runway show into an unforgettable extravaganza. As such, the 18-year old designer made her fashion debut on Friday night, March 17, as the finale of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia.
Launched in 2009 by Aishat’s mother, Medni Kadyrova, Firdaws imbues traditional forms of Islamic dress with opulence and imperial elegance. Steeped in Muslim belief and Chechen culture, the brand’s venerable name translates to the religion’s highest level of paradise, the Garden of Paradise, and aims to symbolize beauty, harmony, and spiritual purity.
Now with Aishat holding the reins of the brand, the young designer strives to capture such ideology into her luxurious, Muslim-friendly creations.
Ever the romantic, Aishat has a flair for elaborate adornment and ethereal beauty. Lace appliques, intricate beading and trims, and botanical embroideries accent plush velvets and lustrous silks cut in long silhouettes that offer full body coverage. Though styles and shapes are rather consistent and stay true to the culture’s conservative code of dress, variations of voluminous skirts paired with stunning waist embellishments create a coy fit-and-flare effect. From the floor-sweeping pastel frocks to the dazzling bridal gowns, Aishat’s collection emulates the exquisite artistry and quality of couture.
While Muslim women have long been underrepresented in Western fashion, more global brands are tapping into the budding market by offering Muslim women fashionable options that fit with their beliefs. It’s a lucrative move; according to Fortune, Muslim women are expected to spend $484 billion on clothing and footwear by 2019. Fashion purveyors high and low are expanding their scopes and exploring the emerging market. Last year, Dolce & Gabbana launched its first abaya and hijab collection, and recently, Nike announced it would release a Pro Hijab next spring. Even luxury e-tailers are jumping on the bandwagon; Net-A-Porter and Moda Operandi curate “Ramadan Edits,” and newly launched online fashion destination The Modist offers a bunch of diverse, modest styles for religious and non-religious women alike.
Amid this modesty movement, Firdaws is gaining traction in the global marketplace. According to Ulzana Zadulayeva, a spokeswoman for the fashion brand, Firdaws is already fulfilling orders from clients in Dubai, as well as garnering interest from customers in Abu Dhabi and Bahrain. As modest fashion continues to gain visibility, keep an eye on Aishat. While this collection marks her official introduction into the fashion scene, it’s safe to say the young designer has a unique perspective and is keen on making an impact on the industry.