Modest Fashion: 6 stylish lines to keep on your radar by Dena Mekawi


By Jacqueline Laurean Yates

The thought of dressing modestly once only held close cultural ties, but now it's a style of dressing many people adore.

In 2018, major retailer H&M created an entire collection dedicated to designs that catered to modest dressing. A year before that, Nike debuted its first Hijab.

More recently, model Halima Aden stunned the world as the first model to appear in a Sports Illustrated issue with a burkini, which is a full body swimsuit traditionally worn by Muslim women.

Dena Mekawi, International Affairs Director of the Arab Fashion Counciland CEO of Style & Resilience, is a first generation Muslim American. She explained to "Good Morning America" how interesting it is to see Muslims and modest dressing become such a huge asset within the fashion world.

"Many mainstream outlets have created looks for Eid (a religious holiday celebrated by Muslims at the end of Ramadan) in the last few years," says Mekawi.

"I would love to see more American designers producing exclusive modest designs," she continued.

As times continue to change, designers are opening up to inclusive designs to fit the needs of women and men of all different backgrounds.

(MORE: Rihanna becomes first woman to launch fashion brand at LVMH)

Ahead, check out six stylish designer lines at the forefront when it comes to modest clothing.

Vivi Zubedi

Mekawi mentions this high fashion line as being one of her favorites. Launched in 2011, Vivi Zubedi has become a highly coveted line known for its Abaya-style pieces that are elegant and creatively designed.


When functionality, fashion, and modest clothing collide, it probably looks a lot like Modanisa. The brand has over one million followers on social media, and has collaborated with big names such as Halima Aden.

Nurita Harith

Nurita Harith offers what looks like a never ending lineup of classy special occassion gowns that are modest and chic.

Nurita Harith offers what looks like a never ending lineup of classy special occassion gowns that are modest and chic.

Kabayare Fashion

Whether you want animal print or quality-made solids, this trendy line has it all. You also can shop beautiful accessories to accentuate your look.

(MORE: Rihanna becomes first woman to launch fashion brand at LVMH)

Urban Modesty

This size-inclusive retailer includes pieces that go up to size 3 XL, and continues to grow in popularity for including trendy floral prints, stripes, beading, and more in their designs.

(MORE: We tried barrettes for grown-ups -- 'hair's what happened)

Rico Rinaldi

Rico Rinaldi creates breathtaking looks that are timeless. The line includes everything from bridal looks to pretty two-piece ensembles.

Alicia Keys & Swizz Beatz Support Amref Health Africa at Artball Gala by Dena Mekawi

Alicia Keys brightened our night by rocking a bright orange blazer, posing alongside hubby Swizz Beatz, attending the 2018 Amref ArtBall at A/D/O on Saturday, April 28th, in Brooklyn, New York.



Swizz Beatz, the 39 year old recording artist, founder of No Commission welcomes Toyina Odutola to the Dean Collection. Swizz Beatz promotes advocacy for the artists themselves being the driving factor behind the very platform he's building and every risk-taking move he's making has shifted culture, creating space for artist to shine by creating a dialogue through art. He has built a community and movement all in one. His resilience to push boundaries, while putting his vision to life is truly inspiring. No Commission is a platform for the artist, with a mission and unwillingness to compromise when it comes to making sure artists receive 100% of sales for their work. 


Alicia Keys, the 37- year-old singer and The Voice coach and Swizz Beatz, the 39 year old hip hop recording artist, and visionary, presented the Rees Visionary Award to Toyin Ojih Odutola, a visual artist from Nigeria. Amref Art Ball is a premier contemporary African art auction and philanthropic event with a purpose to raise awareness and funds for Amref Health Africa. 

Toyin Ojih Odutola was honored for amplifying African Culture and transcultural perspectives. Toyin creates intimate drawings that explore the complexity and malleability of identity. Depicted in her distinctive style of intricate mark-making, her sumptuous compositions reimagine the genre and traditions of portraiture.



Both matching wearing bright colors, founder of Style & Resilience, Dena Mekawi met with Alicia Keys at the Amref Art Ball. Dena mentions Alicia Keys' energy being radiant. Her energy was felt the moment you entered the room with her, says Dena. Alicia Keys has been an inspiration to her, from identity issues, to self-esteem issues of being muslim, and curvy growing up. Dena recalls Alicia Keys' music healing, and guiding her. We are inspired by these creative icons!

How I Met Michael Jordan by Dena Mekawi


Last week, I was in a business meeting on Park avenue in the lobby of a hotel. I look behind me and a tall man makes his way with two other gentlemen, sat down at the lounge area behind us. Michael Jordan, living legend sitting right behind me. The professional in me said don't bother him, but the human side of me said how often do you get to meet a living legend? 

Now, I've been around many celebrities, since my work consists of PR, and representing artist, curating social impact strategies. However, I must say I was a little star struck. Now, I want to give a simple strategy and advice on how it all went down. In the past, I had no self-esteem, let alone confidence to walk up to someone with such high influence. 

Over the years, I learned a few tips when meeting celebrities, especially if you're looking for more than just an "instagram picture" 

  • Make them feel human, especially if they seem to be in an intimate setting, do not disturb their peace by asking for a picture, thus causing others to recognize them.
  • Have an elevator pitch, don't ask for anything, try to invite them to your world by giving short intro to your work and why you'd like to invite them in the future. 

So I did just that, I waited until my meeting was over, kept my cool and walked over. Of course I hesitated, I had my design artist/ friend with me so she kept pushing me, motivating me to just walk over there. I did not ask for any picture, and I was content with that decision, instead, I had a conversation with Michael Jordan and his friends, his manager then asked for my business card. The lesson here is, make celebrities feel human, because that's what they are. Chat with them, wow them with the time you have. Sometimes a shared experience like that is worth more than a picture for the gram. 

So the next time you encounter a celebrity, take a moment and think about what you're going to say. Time and place plays a crucial role as well, if the person is sitting and you have the luxury to articulate your elevator pitch, make sure it's one to remember. Ask yourself what can this individual do for me, and what can I do for this individual. Sometimes we are so caught up in our minds, that this person would never give us a chance because they are so high up there. Trust me, I used to think that way, but you're only as good as you think you are. Confidence will also reflect your style of communication. Finally, remind yourself that you are your own brand. Your style, your words, your website should be a reflection of what you bring to the table. 

Busta Rhymes Hosts a screening of "Survivors Guide to Prison" by Dena Mekawi

Written by David Alm, contributor on Forbes;


Dena Mekawi (Founder of Style & Resilience) and Ardita Jani, artist and designer for Style & Resilience had the honor of customizing a hand painted jacket for Busta Rhymes for the screening of this powerful film. Dena Mekawi, uses art and communication to highlight social issues curated the idea, while Ardita Jani hand painted. 

Social activism in partnership with YWCA Brooklyn, FAMM, #cut50, and React To Film. 

The American criminal justice system trades in neither criminals nor justice. This is the premise of Survivors Guide to Prison, a new feature-length documentary from director Matthew Cooke, whose 2012 film How to Make Money Selling Drugs also couched a social justice message in a mock-how-to guide to make a serious point.

The difference is that Survivors Guide to Prison wants you to take its title -- and its advice -- to heart. The film reports that the United States now has so many laws in the books that the average American commits three felonies per day without even realizing it. Add to that a broken justice system governed less by due process and a presumption of innocence than by money, racism and a punitive approach to reform that does anything but, and the need for such advice starts to make sense.

Making matters worse, the United States imprisons more people than any other country in the world and each year arrests 13 million -- more than the entire populations of New York and Los Angeles combined -- and not a single state has use-of-force laws that meet international standards. If you are a person of color, the likelihood that you will be arrested, and convicted, multiplies exponentially. A black man will receive a 20-percent longer sentence for the same crime as a white man, and African Americans comprise more than a third of the total prison population, despite comprising only about 13 percent of the U.S. population.

Once inside, the injustices compound, and those of us on the outside know little of what really goes on. As Cooke notes in his narration, most of our understanding of American prisons comes from "corporate and commercially funded television" programs like MSNBC's Lockup, which the film suggests only contributes to our misguided belief that if you're in prison, you must belong there, and that prisons are essentially doing society a favor by isolating those who would otherwise break it apart. Ironically, Cooke later notes, the same Americans who blindly trust the justice system to exact justice are, in other contexts, equally prone to distrust the government.

Narrated by Cooke and Susan Sarandon, and featuring a parade of celebrities -- Chuck D, Patricia Arquette, Danny Glover, Danny Trejo, Macklemore, Deepak Chopra and Quincy Jones, among others -- Survivors Guide to Prison suffers somewhat from so many facts and figures that it can be hard to adequately digest, and its occasionally disjointed narrative conflates the numerous issues at stake, from wrongful conviction and inadequate treatment for the mentally ill to the ineffectiveness of cages as a mechanism of reform. It also relies too heavily on the stylistic tropes that seem to plague every documentary and TV show about prisons, especially those that Cooke rightly criticizes -- jumpy camerawork, scratchy title screens, frenetic cuts. 


Leanne Marshall Brings Sustainability with Uncharacteristic Edge to the NYFW Runway by Dena Mekawi


New York, NY (February 14, 2018) -- The always anticipated Leanne Marshall New York Fashion Week runway show brought romantic elegance with a hint of edge to Spring Studios this Valentine's Day.  The newly engaged fashion designer highlighted Cupid's day by placing a custom-made Valentine by Lovepop on each and every seat with a Fall/Winter sketch and love note to her fans. Hundreds of industry experts instantly felt a personal connection to Leanne opening and closing their interactive pop up cards as they took their seats and waited for the show to begin in the gorgeous light-filled gallery overlooking the Hudson River. Moody melodies overtook the space, and the first model took to the catwalk in a trendy wet hair look by Aveda and an uncharacteristic structured navy sheath dress. Audience heads began to turn with delight as chunky knitwear pieces, subtly striped separates, and oversized jackets passed through the runway threshold.  

Leanne Marshall stunned today with a vibrant runway dripping with gorgeous gowns and sweatered separates. Her palette consisted of charcoal, midnight navy, dusty rose, metallic bronze, citron, and cyan. The unexpected color combinations flowed gorgeously from one capsule to the next with her signature silk chiffon silhouettes, wool shift dresses, and organic cotton outerwear.  Waved and scalloped cutouts added a touch of drama and served as a departure from her usual penchant for flowy fabrics. Each piece in the collection was crafted sustainably, whether from leftover, hand-dyed bridal materials or organically sourced cottons.The show also featured a bevy of beautiful faces in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Forty models strutted the runway, many of whom were plus sized and real sized, echoing the designer's desire to dress all women. Flaunting the beauty of every body, Leanne chose to steer away from the norm and feature fitted, body-hugging silhouettes.  In true Leanne Marshall fashion, the runway show closed with a stunning, voluminous gown. This season in a statement making citron, the drop waist showstopper featured lace illusion and crinkle silk organza details. The designer's sweet fiancé Remy made his first catwalk appearance handing over a lovely bouquet of festive red roses to his bride to be as a loving "aw" trickled throughout the crowd. Notable attendees included actress Lizzy Green of Nickelodeon's Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn, Emma Myles and Francesca Curran of Orange is the New Black, musician Leslie DiNicola, Youtuber Sasha Anne, Taylor Louderman of Broadway's Mean Girls, actress Annie Q, Lisa Nicole Cloud of Married to Medicine, model Joy Corrigan, host Kristine Leahy of American Ninja Warrior and Fox Sports, and Vallery Lomas winner of ABC's Great American Baking Show. ##About Leanne MarshallLeanne Marshall was born in Yuba City, California. When most little girls were playing house, Leanne was playing fashion designer with a sketchbook, colored pencils and spare bits of fabric. In no time at all, with the help of a local seamstress, she began bringing her sketches to life. At age 18, Leanne won the Levi’s Dockers Scholarship and was awarded a year of free tuition at The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in San Francisco where she went on to study. In mid 2007, she was able to leave her money job behind and make the leap into designing her own label full-time.  In 2008, what would become a career defining year, Leanne was selected as a contestant for Season 5 of Project Runway. With an unwavering determination, she made it all the way to the finale where she showed her, now famous, wave inspired collection in shades of turquoise, ivory and sand. The judges, and audiences worldwide, were captivated by her final collection and Leanne was crowned the winner.  Fresh after her Project Runway win, Leanne relocated to New York City where she continued to develop her line. Her collections have shown at New York Fashion Week and fashion weeks around the globe every year since 2008. Her work has been seen on Carrie Underwood, Ashley Benson, Salt, Ariana Grande, Andi MacDowell, Julianne Hough, Dasha Palanco, Jackie Cruz, Jane Fonda, Paula Abdul and many others. Her dresses and gowns have graced the pages of Martha Stewart Weddings, Brides, US Weekly, The Post, TV Guide, The New York Times, People, Grazia, Elle, LIFE, National Geographicand countless others.  Leanne Marshall’s sophisticated designs are known for their light, flowing lines, feminine details and timeless elegance. Each dress is made in New York using only the highest quality materials. The Leanne Marshall Brand is a staple for the woman who wants a dress that will showcase, not overshadow, her beauty. Attention to high quality standards, proper flattering fits and silhouettes, and her unique ethereal approach to design have made Leanne a go-to for the today’s woman. With touches of classic and modern, sophistication and youth, Leanne Marshall has captured an effortless grace and timeless elegance in her collections.  




For more information visit or follow on social at @leannemarshallofficial.   

About MISS GARCIAMISS GARCIA is the Spanish luxury footwear brand acclaimed for its standout styles, effervescent colors and impeccable, hand-crafted quality. The brand was founded in 2013 by entrepreneur and company CEO Elena Garcia who wanted to create a line that women everywhere would find compelling and irresistible. To learn more information about MISS GARCIA, please visit AvedaFounded in 1978 in Minneapolis, MN, Aveda creates high performance, plant-based products for beauty professionals and consumers.  Aveda innovates in botanical technologies, combining the principles of modern science and Ayurveda, the ancient healing art of India, to develop performance-driven hair, skin and body products—made with pure flower and plant essences—that are created with respect for the Earth, and a comprehensive menu of ritual-based treatments for holistic beauty. Go behind-the-scenes at Aveda on the blog at