by KEISHEL A. WILLIAMS
The proliferation of Muslimah fashion has been a steady trend recently, but Trinidadian fashion blogger Naballah Chi has been at the forefront of this wave for a number of years now, and all of her hard work is paying off. The fashion blogger – who is also Muslim – has been blogging since 2003 and has since been featured in international press such as Cosmopolitan, BBC, Huffington Post and the Daily Mail.
Now Chi is a Cover Girl – a Deen Squad Cover Girl that it! Recently, Chi was featured in the new music video Cover Girl by Canadian rap group, Deen Squad. According to the group’s website: “Deen Squad started off by reinventing mainstream music while giving it a positive and Islamic twist, providing an alternative for the youth to listen to.”
Chi was personally contacted via her popular instagram page by Jae Deen, one of the founding members of the group, to be one of a few Muslimahs featured in the video of their inspiring rap hit Cover Girl. The song celebrates the beauty, strength, and diversity of the Muslim woman, and the video shows Muslim women with various backgrounds, from different parts of the world. The song has been an anthem recently, and so we decided we want to know a little more about the Trini beauty who truly stood out in a sea of other beauties. And here’s what Chi had to say:
NOTESBYKW: How have the Muslim community in T&T (and perhaps beyond) responded to the video?
NABALLAH CHI: There is negative feedback as with many initiatives, more from the conservative Muslims and ignorant folk who don’t understand the meaning behind the video. However, the positive feedback has been tremendously overwhelming. A lot of messages from the youth who are saying that the video is such an inspiration for many of them who were lost or were about to give up. I personally have gotten so many great messages from both Muslims and non-Muslims alike. The video has surpassed 2M views on Facebook and the world is currently fascinated by that fact that we ALL managed to put such a beautiful piece of art together.
NBK: Your style would not be described as typically “Muslim,” did you have difficulty developing your personal style and still keeping within the restrictions of your faith?
NBK: As a fashion designer, do you design for the masses or do you feel you need to stick within the Muslim community?
NC: I design for the masses I don’t want to limit my audience so I focus more on the masses. I’m a fashion designer who is Muslim. My beliefs do not necessarily influence my design aesthetic unless clients request something specifically.
NBK: As an upcoming designer in the Caribbean, how do you believe the industry can become stronger?
NC: We definitely need more industry collaborations. I think this will improve the way we as a country are designing and manufacturing fashion. Leverage partnerships between established and upcoming designers through various programs designed to optimize the fashion industry. We also need to continuously generate financial support for the Fashion industry by getting more people to support local designers by purchasing their products.
NBK: When people look at you, what do you want them to see and understand about you?
NC: It’s straightforward. I love my faith and, I also love being stylish and fashionable, but my faith comes first because it is what gives me direction; it is what I stand for and standby. There is nothing wrong with being a stylish Muslimah, as long as it is within the boundaries of Islamic requirements. Faith dwells on the inner beauty and fashion and style deals with the outer beauty. It is therefore important that I am able to identify with the principles of my faith for dressing and understand how to synchronize my fashion sense and stylishness with my faith. I’m not going to compromise my beliefs for the sake of Fashion to blend in with society. I love my Muslim identity. I think Hijab is refreshing and empowering. It’s a shame that the significance of Hijab is understood by so few.
NBK: What do you want people to take away from the Deen Squad – Cover Girl video?
NC: Progressiveness for women still depends on how much they are willing to reveal. The higher up the ladder women go, the more compelled they are to take off their clothes or shred their morals and values. Women are supposed to be strong and independent yet we are constantly made slaves to an ideal physical image. As hijabi women, as Muslim women we lead great lives, we are not uncool, unhappy, oppressed or weak. If you listen closely to the lyrics of the song it tells you of the many ways in which Muslim women are winning in every aspect of life.
NBK: What’s next for Naballah Chi?
NC: I’ve got fashion shows lined up regionally and I’m also working on taking my brand to the next level, but sometimes being a fashion blogger takes precedence over being a fashion designer, so it’s a balance I’m still trying to work out.
CHECK OUT THE COVER GIRL VIDEO BELOW:
Images by Naballah Chi