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Muslim Fashion and Global Politics

Lecture Center for Global Humanities Lecture/Seminar Series

Reina Lewis

Reina Lewis

Building on her new book, Muslim Fashion: Contemporary Style Cultures, Professor Reina Lewis investigates how fashion plays a role in multi-faith and multicultural communication.

In the past 15 years a niche market for modest fashion has developed to provide fashionable clothes for women who want to dress modestly. Joining women from Muslim, Christian, Jewish and other faith groups, who are motivated by their own interpretations of their faith, are women who are secular or who don’t identify as religious but who do want more options about how they cover their body. In a women-led field, the internet has provided routes to commerce and to commentary in which designers, creative entrepreneurs, bloggers and social media "stars" have emerged as important tastemakers whose images and opinions cross the world. Moving beyond "mere" fashion, discussions and debates in what some term a modest fashion movement, combine style debates with discussions about spirituality and society. Facing often virulent online criticism from the self-appointed guardians of women’s morality, participants struggle to maintain an ethical commitment to respect women’s individual interpretations and views. Recognized by their peers as important role models, modest fashion style leaders are routinely overlooked by community leaders and by policy makers — a situation that Reina Lewis thinks should be changed. 


Reina Lewis is Artscom Centenary Professor of Cultural Studies at London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London. She is author of Muslim Fashion: Contemporary Style Cultures (Duke University Press, 2015), Rethinking Orientalism: Women, Travel and the Ottoman Harem (2004) and Gendering Orientalism: Race, Femininity and Representation (1996). She is editor of Modest Fashion: Styling Bodies, Mediating Faith, (2013), and with Nancy Micklewright, of Gender, Modernity and Liberty: Middle Eastern and Western Women’s Writings: A Critical Reader (2006), with Sara Mills, of Feminist Postcolonial Theory: A Reader (2003), and — with Peter Horne — of Outlooks: Lesbian and Gay Visual Cultures (1996). Reina Lewis is also editor with Elizabeth Wilson of the book series Dress Cultures, and — with Teresa Heffernan — of the book series Cultures in Dialogue.

Reina is a frequent media commentator — most recently for the New York Times, Le Monde, BBC World, BBC Radio, CBC radio, The Guardian, The Times, Marie-Claire magazine, Elle Brazil,,, and Huffington Post.

Reina Lewis convenes the public talk series Faith and Fashion at the London College of Fashion.


WCHP Lecture Hall in Parker Pavilion
716 Stevens Avenue
Portland, ME 04103

Assigned Reading

Reina Lewis, Muslim Fashion: Contemporary Style Cultures (Duke University Press, 2015) 


5 p.m. at the UNE Art Gallery (Portland campus)

Muslim Fashion and Global Politics poster
6:00 PM
WCHP Lecture Hall in Parker Pavilion

Portland Campus

Free and open to the public