Modest Fashion *

* An international phenomenon in art and fashion.

21 September 2019 - 9 February 2020

It is something new and a billion-dollar industry: fashion fashion. You may have never heard of it, you may already be wearing it. The Stedelijk Museum Schiedam is the first museum in the Netherlands to show this international fashion phenomenon with work by contemporary designers combined with contemporary art.

The creations of this vanguard are fashionable and covered. Women who do not want to participate in the 'aesthetics of being exposed' wear it, religious or not. Whereas the miniskirt was once seen as a feminist statement, now women want to be free and decide how to show themselves to the world: choose yourself! Modest fashion is therefore not about the question 'covered or not?', But about the freedom of choice and creativity of women around the world. The exhibition marks the 100-year anniversary of women's suffrage in the Netherlands and celebrates that 100 years ago the first woman came to the city council of Schiedam. Minister of Culture Ingrid van Engelshoven will perform the opening.

From black and white to color

The Modest Fashion exhibition combines fun and fashion, is in keeping with the spirit of the times and is at the same time a feast for the eyes. Designer Said Mahrouf, who selected the outfits for the exhibition, made three fashion pieces especially for the Schiedam presentation. He selected a large number of model books from both major fashion brands and independent labels. The styles range from minimalist to exuberant. For example, the dress from fashion brand Bouguessa is winking at the work of minimalist American artist Jene Highstein. Opposite is Karl Lagerfeld. For Chanel, he designed an outfit of different layers with exuberant prints, inspired by traditional Moroccan patterns.

Cultural exchange

Modest fashion is something of today, even booming in recent years. For her recent series Hijab in Transition , Perrine Philomeen was inspired by a woman with a traditional headscarf (hijab) with Adidas cap. Meryem Slimani stylizes herself and her mother; hip and futuristic. At the same time, it fits into a long history of cultural exchange. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Dutch women wore a hood, a mantle from head to toe. Sometimes men also had it on. The hood has an Arab-Andalusian origin: the haik.


Guest curators Rajae El Mouhandiz and Alexandra van Dongen combined fashion items with artworks for Modest Fashion . El Mouhandiz is a Dutch-Moroccan artist and artistic centipede from Rotterdam, who toured the Netherlands in the spring of 2019 with her theater performance Thuis, Ontheemd # 2 . Art historian Alexandra van Dongen is curator of design at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen and has made exhibitions at other museums, including Powermask as a guest curatorwith fashion designer Walter Van Beirendonck. "We are in the age of choice," says El Mouhandiz. "A woman is no longer just a muse, but also a maker." She cites Mama Cash's research earlier this year. Only 13% of the art in Dutch museums is made by women.

Humor, sensuality, minimalism

The fashion items in the exhibition were chosen by Said Mahrouf. After his birth in Morocco, the fashion designer grew up in the Netherlands, after which he studied in Amsterdam and New York. Since 2011 he works from Casablanca. His work looks minimalist and sensual. Some designers that he selected for the exhibition work with humor, while others push the limits of sensuality. Sometimes there are aesthetic similarities.


Modest fashion was coined as a concept by Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, two American twin sisters. After becoming world famous in the Full House television series , they started The Row , their own fashion brand with concealing clothing. Modest fashion also penetrates Hollywood, Vogue recently pointed out. Superstar Taylor Swift, for example, wears fashionable fashion. "Some people think that women are forced to dress modest, but it's fun and you no longer have to think you're a man's sex object," says an American designer in the fashion magazine.

Participating fashion designers and houses

Bouguessa, Hussein Chalayan, Chanel, Dior, Lisa Folawiyo, FRENKEN, Maison Rabih Kayrouz, Kayat, Layeur, Said Mahrouf, The Row, Christian Wijnants

Participating artists

Fida Al Hussan, Alia Ali, Anida Yoeu Ali, Anouk, Yael Bartana, Amina Benbouchta, Carolle Benitah, Jean Besancenot, Jenny Boot, Meriem Bouderbala, Yasmina Bouziane, Wilhelmina Cooper, Iris van Dongen, Alicia Framis, Shadi Ghadirian, Maimouna Guerresi, Neelam Hakeem, Mona Haydar, Wenceslaus Hollar, Suzanne Jongmans, Hayv Kahraman, Lola Keyezua, Fatima Mazmouz, Aïda Muluneh, Shirin Neshat, Irving Penn, Perrine Philomeen, Shahzia Sikander, Meryem Slimani, Newsha Tavakolian, Jacobus van Hoeveniuscher Vissers Hoeveniuscher


The fringe program connects people with different cultural and religious backgrounds. There are guided tours, lectures, Modest Fashion Fairs, Modest Fashion Labs, a symposium and more. The exhibition also fits in with the My Schiedam program , in which the museum collaborates with Schiedammers. That part can be seen on the top floor. Modest fashion is close by, in Schiedam, in our daily lives, in stores. For this new way of working, the Stedelijk Museum Schiedam is the only non-English-speaking organization and one of five museums selected for the 'first wave' of the international project OFFBYFORALL.

For this new way of working, the Stedelijk Museum Schiedam is the only non-English-speaking organization and one of five museums selected for the 'first wave' of the international project OFFBYFORALL.


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