Interview with Citra Style co-founder Habibah Chbib

February 20, 2014

It's always exciting news to hear of a new shop for modest clothing especially living in the west, where finding modest clothing can be really difficult. Almost every piece of clothing has to be hijabified one way or the other, unless you’re purchasing from Muslimah shops where you don’t have to worry about layering to be modest. A vast number of clothing shops have opened and among them is Citra Style. Founded by Habibah Chbib and her husband Muhammad Chbib on December 2013, Citra Style is aimed to provide modest clothing fashion inspired by runway trends. Citra is an Arabic word for “protection, cover, shelter and above all modesty”. Although, Citra Style is based in Dubai their online shop provide everything you’ll need for your wardrobe and they ship internationally. They also give you the option to shop the entire look. They just recently launched their winter collection 2013/2014 that includes long skirts, long dresses, hijabs, tunics, and much more. I had a great opportunity to asked Habibah few about Citra Style.

Hazel Gaze

Q: What does fashion mean to you as a Muslim woman?

A: The first thing that comes to me when I think of fashion is, inner beauty. In every raw sense of it, reflection of everything you are from within, and even the righteousness of going within the self. Modesty is a virtue, it is not a statement-maker or a style per se to showcase – it is sublimity and a beautiful way to dress, minus showcasing the unnecessary and totally irrelevant glam-doll factor – those are labels, rendered to objects, not meant for women at all.

Clothes are not merely draperies to be worn carelessly over the body. Going beyond its basic function, of wearing apparels, keeping oneself warm etcetera, clothes carry a powerful effect – they build first impressions and reflect the surrealistic grace of the woman. Thoughtful dressing is something I feel I am a custodian of. Our beautiful deen asks us to be reflective people, and who we are from within, showcases our better self outwardly as well. While looking presentable and dressing well is important to me, having that confidence and being a good role model for my daughter, thus defines what I wear and how I think. And this quality of modesty is what I and my team strives to achieve, of all that we design and create at Citra Style as well.

Q: When did you realize you wanted to become a fashion designer and start Citra?

A: I am primarily involved with research, curating and putting together designs and styles, alongside my team of fashion designers. Then we move forward with our production team, to source out the right fabrics and texture detail. We have a core crew of passionate and stylish designers, and a production team of Muslim faith.

As far as when I decided to start my own Muslim modest fashion label, I would say the thought was birthing in itself subconsciously, since I was constantly on a look out for Hijab friendly, presentable clothing. And though there were several options available in the markets, nothing quite matched the symmetry of what is required for the modern Muslim woman. Either the outfits I came across were too tight, or too loose, lacked shape, had to be overlapped with layers over layers – it was too strenuous to find that perfect fit – something I would never need to alter or replace.

That’s when Citra Style seemingly began taking shape. I observed the gigantic gap in the market, for rightly available modest fashion-wear, and discussed with my husband on bringing about a modest fashion label, for Muslim women, who face a tough time finding themselves the most apt modest style ensemble.

Q: How long have you worked as a designer?

A: I am not a designer myself, however, I hold immense passion in curating modest fashion styles for the modern Muslim woman. Having been through the crusade of finding appropriate clothing for the longest I could imagine, I figured it would be the most enterprising idea to bring about a modest fashion label for Muslim women across the world. That’s when I got to source out Muslim fashion designers, with extensive experience in modest designs, get them on board, and soil my hands in, collaboratively designing all our collections. I work very closely at developing each piece that you see on the website, and look forward to our next collection, very soon!

Q: What was the first article of clothing you ever designed? Where do you get your inspiration?

A: Most of everything you see is inspired by runway trends, seasonal styles and designs. We cherry-pick those that we think are appropriate to our vision of modern Muslim fashion, and convert it into modest cuts, sizing and everything that a Muslim woman can easily wear, having to never worry about the fitting – ever. Also, we have made sure, that every piece we design is bespoke in quality, customized in a way that could embrace the shopper, the very instance she wears it.

Q: How long does it usually take you to construct a piece?

A: It takes us about a week or two, for the entire process. Once the design process is executed, we await samples for approval. When we are convinced with what we see, we get the final pieces ready for availability.

Q: Where can readers buy your clothes?

A: They could go on to and shop for our latest Autumn/Winter collection. They could also make avail of the Shop By Look feature, where they could shop the entire suggestive look – from the bottomstopscardigansjackets and hijabs, as showcased.

Q: What matters to you most as a fashion designer?

A: I’d like to answer this as someone who is sensitive to the needs of modern Muslim women. I would say, one has to intuitively listen to their inner calling when it comes to buying the right clothes. Especially for us, where everything we choose to wear, has to be in line with our faith. What then matter is, what’s most suited to the Muslim woman of fine taste, yet that which is sacred to her, and not dull in the style aspect of it.

Q: What advice do you have for aspiring fashion designers?

A: The Prophet (pbuh) has said that Allah is beautiful and He loves beauty. It is for this that the whole of Allah's creation has been designed and created according to the highest heavenly standard of splendor and order, impossible to be ever emulated by anyone. There is nothing in existence but beauty, for God created the cosmos only in His image, that is, in the image of His infinite beauty. In this context, I do wish for a day, when everyone is proud, confident and assured of what they wear. Those aspiring to be fashion designers of Muslim faith, and those who are constantly on a look out for diverse modest styles, I would say, always see how you can thrive in and pay homage to the beautiful world, that Allah has presented us with, and how you could take the best of it, and blend it into your designs, or your wardrobe. That, and remain absolutely comfortable and self-assured of what you wear. And upcoming fashion designers, this should be something you should always look-out for: Inspirational designs with comfort at its best.

Don’t forget to follow Citra Style on social sites to be up-to-dates on their new collections, specials deals, and more.
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 Here are few pictures:

Bohemian Breeze
Business Beauty
Endless Grace
Haute Heritage
Out & About
Urban Attitude
Wings to Fly
Pretty in Paisley

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