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Spiritual style. What religious fashionistas wear


Keeping up both with strict traditions and the current times. Faithful female Muslims, orthodox Christians and synagogue-goers are, first of all, women. And – as every woman – they want to be beautiful and elegant. Although strict rules sometimes put them in a choosing situation – between spiritual and secular life. Which sacrifices had to be made by fashionistas of the Middle Ages and what can today’s designers offer to picky customers – in Mariya Marchenko’s report.


Spring collection in a Muslim clothing boutique looks like haute couture. The brand creator Gulnara Nurulina keeps a close eye on fashion weeks in New York and Paris. Flowers, dots, geometry – all trends in one wardrobe. And every dress meets the Sharia norms.

Gulnara Nurulina, designer: “Textures must not be see-trough, they must not reveal the body. They can’t be slim and must be loose-sitting. Colors must not be vibrant. We also have orthodox Christian customers too”

The main feature of a Muslim woman’s outfit – concealment. People can only see face and wrists. That’s why a swimming suit is not your average one – it’s a combination of a tunica and pants. Burkini, as they say here. You can do sports in one of these and even get a tan.

Islam and Judaism are the two most demanding religions. And the demands have not changed for centuries. Christianity and Buddhism are slightly more tolerant. But there is a common denominator – once you’re going to meet the God, your clothes must be clean and tidy, your hair must be concealed under a cloth. 

Sergey Podlesnyi, head researcher, Museum of Religious History: “That’s why in the ancient times and then into the Middle Ages, women often cut their hair off completely. It was a 100 percent guarantee that nobody would see it – simply because there’s none”

Today’s women believers do not make such sacrifices. Lacy cloths and silk scarves – the selection at a Christian store is huge. Floor-length dresses with a slight cleavage. It is only allowed to unbutton a few buttons on the collar. 

Mariya Marchenko, reporter: “Religious clothing isn’t necessarily dull and grey. Here is the dress called “the blush”. The one you can wear both to a church and to a theatre. You feel like a romantic lady”

Every garment, says the designer, has its own mission. This red dress is for Easter. This dress called “silent movie” is for the office. This “woman’s lyrics” is for every day.

Anastasiya Koneva, show-room administrator: “There are interesting cases when the name of a dress coincides with the name of a customer. It pleases us both”

When the image of a Turgenev-era lady became trendy a few years ago, people who are not that much into religion started to come here – artists and students of artistic schools. Those who work at churches and temples have also become more demanding – they’re asking not only for clothes they could wear at a temple, but the trendy ones too. As if thus proving – a woman wants to be herself – beautiful and elegant – wherever she goes.