Posted on Jul 17, 2019
Haute Hijab Staff
Editor’s Note: As part of our coverage of our Heritage Collection and Haute Hijab’s 10th anniversary, which includes our conversation with Melanie about HH’s origin story and an exclusive behind the scenes look at the design process for the new silks collection, we are featuring interviews with five extraordinary Muslim women making waves in their communities. Each woman chose one of our five hijabs from the collection, and this series of interviews discusses their hijab journey, their work and why one’s heritage is so important.
Chances are if you are a consumer of all things modest fashion and media, you’ve heard of Marwa Biltagi, whose nickname is Meme. She is the California-bred brains behind Mademoiselle Meme, a digital media lifestyle magazine. After graduating with a degree in art history and relocating to the United Kingdom, Meme officially launched Mademoiselle Meme in early 2015. It remains a must-read international fashion and lifestyle website for anyone interested in the intersection of modesty and fashion, with content inspired by Meme’s ever-changing home base of Los Angeles, Oxford (England), Edinburgh (Scotland), Dubai, New York, Silicon Valley and now Princeton. But you can also find her on Instagram @mademoisellememe. Trust us - it’s a page worth following!
We spoke with Meme, who chose The Crest hijab from our Heritage Collection, about how California style and more importantly, the weather, influences her modest fashion style and how she built her personal style and aesthetic into a global media fashion outlet.
1. Tell us a little bit about your profession and how you developed your interest in modest fashion.
My work focuses on fashion from an editorial side - a look at fashion from inside the industry as a whole, not just modest fashion. Modest fashion has always been part of my lifestyle, and my hijab perfectly compliments that practice. I got into the fashion industry by chance when media outlets picked up my looks online, which led me to launching my own digital lifestyle magazine. I have always done my own thing when it comes to fashion, and I think that authenticity brought attention from my peers, who would then ask me about fashion tips and trends. I took that influence onto the web, and that was that!
2. Talk to us about your hijab journey and how you developed your own style and look.
My hijab journey started at age 11 and has evolved tremendously since then. I have found styles I am most comfortable in fabrics that wear better for certain occasions than others and styles that work best around my face shape and color. I love to wear print hijabs when my outfit is more minimalist and wear neutrals when I have a busy outfit. The goal is to always look polished and feminine. I had to learn early on that not every fabric looks good on the head and wrapping hijab in a certain style can completely transform your face and look.
Having grown up in California, the weather is the biggest influence on my style. I need my hijab to be effortless, lightweight and comfortable for hot weather days. I want to be able to thrown my scarf on easily, in true Californian fashion. As a result, my hijab style is very low maintenance and carefree, wrapped loosely around my head and neck.
3. What made you choose this specific printed silk hijab? What about it appealed to you?
I love to build my wardrobe with neutrals that go with every outfit, and that goes for hijab too. This print, The Crest, is the perfect ivory/ ecru color that I can wear with many colors in my closet. The print is on trend with logomania without being over the top. I can wear it like a babushka or tied around my neck for a cleaner look.
4. We developed our exclusive Heritage Collection to showcase the story and history of Haute Hijab. Our own personal heritage is so important - how do you celebrate your own heritage?
When I think of heritage, I don’t think about my ethnicity. I think of my tradition, the Islamic tradition. That, for me, is my heritage, my story and my identity. Being a Muslim in the Western world allows me to celebrate that fundamental foundation through my work, my interactions with others and through my manners. Wearing hijab is one of the ways I get to celebrate my tradition, as it is a clear marker of that important identity.
5. Who are your style icons?
I always look to Old Hollywood glamour when I want to be inspired. Turbans and headscarves of that era need to have a major comeback!
6. What does the hijab mean to you?
Hijab is self-empowerment. I control the narrative, I control how others see me, and I can educate others on what a Muslim woman can be - as someone who is very visibly Muslim.
7. We love seeing powerful Muslim women in our community doing big things, which is why we chose you as one of five honorees for this campaign. Is there a message you’d like to convey to inspire women to live a big life?
In the age of social media, authenticity is few and far between. Be your authentic self! The payoff will always come tenfold and from the right people.
Check back on the blog for more interviews from the other wonderful women we interviewed as part of the debut of Haute Hijab’s Heritage Collection!