Javeria Elahi is a young, Muhajjbah student of fashion design at one of the private universities in Karachi. “Hiba” got in touch with her to know more about how she intends to pursue her chosen career.

It is very heart-warming to see that a young girl, observing the Islamic dress code, would be interested in the field of fashion. What was the initial response of the interviewers at your fashion school?

Surprisingly, there wasn’t any obvious response from the panel of interviewers to my getup during the time of my admission. However, I did get an apprehensive response from my fellow schoolmates-to-be present at the time of the interview.

I mean they had doubts about me getting the admission in a ‘fashion school’ with “Hijab-n-all.”

Have you had any difficulties with respect to your curriculum and stuff you are required to do to pass a particular course, for example, drawing illustrations, etc.?

No, not really, other than the fact that you feel a little guilty about doing something wrong, like drawing illustrations, which are a necessary part of my studies. They do help in bringing about a clear picture of my designs from a practical perspective. But, so far, it’s the only aspect of my BFD (Bachelors in Fashion Designing) program, which I feel is wrong and feel guilty about, and which I could easily shed with later on. Other than that, I am happy with everything so far. After all, how I use my education later on is what counts.

How have your classmates accepted you with your distinct ideology?

Well, I would say that they pretty much accept me as I was… I mean they act quite normally with me, as long as I don’t preach to them. However, there are a few others, who largely ignore me or act, as if I am not there.

Here I would like to add that I am not the only one wearing Abaya at my institute. There are a few others (very few), who also prefer this getup over trendy fashion – and the number is increasing, Masha’Allah.

Does it become lonely or do you feel isolated at any time or different from others in your class?

Yes, sometimes, although I generally try to be a part of what everyone is doing. However, at times my views differ from others on the basis of what’s right and what’s wrong.

For example, I don’t attend fashion shows (as a backstage helper), as others do to gain experience, because I don’t feel it is right, i.e., volunteering to help out the models and mixing with them. My parents don’t approve of it either. And, late nights are also one of the major reasons.

After graduating from your fashion school, do you see any limitations for yourself career-wise?

No, not really. Fashion is not only about short clothes and body exposure (as is generally perceived), it’s about creativity. It’s a very wide field – one can do a lot in this field within the Islamic perimeters.

Tell us about your future plans as a fashion designer, who intends to present novel ideas in the world of fashion.

As far as my future plans are concerned, I am interested in designing accessories and bed spreads, instead of clothes. We have a lot of designers coming into clothes line, but very few opt for designing accessories and stuff.

Any challenges you have or are facing presently?

No, not unlike what my other fellow students and friends are facing. For example, trying to meet deadlines for different assignments, working late nights, or many a times, working all night to complete them, and of course, there is a lot of clutter at home, for which you inevitably get scolded.

What message would you like to give out to the youth reading this article?

I would like to tell them that nothing is impossible. No field is good or bad; it’s about where you take it. Most importantly, Islamic teachings don’t stop or hinder you from progressing (as some people mistakenly think). One can do anything and everything successfully, within the perimeters set by Allah (swt).