Why Kosar Ali does not like the term 'modest dressing'

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Photo credit: David M. Benett - Getty Images
Photo credit: David M. Benett - Getty Images

Stepping into the often chaotic and always glamorous world of celebrity red carpets and high-end fashion shows can be a daunting task, but not for young British actress Kosar Ali, who has taken to it with ease.

The 19-year-old star was thrust into the spotlight when she received a BAFTA nomination earlier this year – but it has not taken her long to find her feet when it comes to fashion. Although she describes these celebrity events as a little “anxiety-inducing”, she says this is what makes them so much fun.

“Dressing up for the red carpet can feel very real in the moment, but it is surreal at the same time,” Ali says. “It’s very nerve-racking, but that’s how you know you love something. I’ve always loved fashion – I love clothes. Fashion is art, fashion is expression, fashion is truth and fashion is feeling, to me.”

The actress seems confident in knowing what suits her, whatever the occasion: “I just let loose and try anything – and I see what clothes and looks I gravitate towards. I like to wear anything that makes me feel myself and symbolises how I feel in whatever phase I’m in.”

For Ali’s stylists, Zadrian Smith and Sarah Edmiston, this attitude is something they want to bring out every time they help her choose something to wear.

“We’ve truly never seen someone at Kosar’s age, that has her level of composure and confidence in herself,” Smith says, noting how she holds herself with “such grace”. “It’s always important to us that her outfits are an extension and reflection of the way she carries herself.”

The latest look the trio worked on together was for Alexander McQueen’s spring/summer 2022 show, which took place earlier this week in London. Ali wore a beautiful monochrome ensemble to sit on the front row, one which was made up of a voluminous white dress, a black soft-leather vest and some seriously stompy winter boots.

“We knew immediately that it was the one,” Smith says, about spotting the look in the showroom.

Photo credit: David M. Benett - Getty Images
Photo credit: David M. Benett - Getty Images

It is not the first time that Ali has worn McQueen. In fact, she turned to the British label for one of the biggest nights of her life earlier this year, the BAFTAs. For the event, she chose a breathtaking white ensemble in the form of a long, ruffled gown and a cropped jacket.

The fashion house is, in many ways, a perfect fit for the actress, Edmiston says.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Alexander McQueen
Photo credit: Courtesy of Alexander McQueen

“The narrative of the brand works so well for her as their collections tend towards gorgeous layering, long exaggerated sleeves and the merging of the feminine with masculine details. This is perfect for Kosar, as she gets to still feel like she’s dressing in a way that’s young, strong and cool – but in an elevated way.”

Photo credit: Courtesy
Photo credit: Courtesy

Smith adds that the McQueen team is great at making sure Ali feels true to herself and that the look always “honours her identity”. Part of this relates to the level of coverage Ali needs to wear as a Muslim woman, something which has its challenges in the fashion industry.

Photo credit: Courtesy
Photo credit: Courtesy

“It’s difficult to find pieces that are high-fashion and have a variety of silhouettes and pattern work, but also provide the necessary amount of coverage,” Edmiston says. “A lot of women that dress modestly struggle with feeling that the offerings are very static and unexciting, so as a stylist, it’s about the creativity involved in taking very high-fashion or luxury options and modifying them to cater to this community, be it with alterations, or layering.”

If the industry is to improve for women who do dress in a modest fashion, brands need to deliver more options, Edmiston says, something which will happen if they start including a more diverse range of people on the catwalk and in their campaigns.

“Expanding the industry to include more clothing options that cater to modest dress means starting with making sure that the people cast in campaigns, runway shows, and as brand ambassadors are a reflection of the real world. Once you have models or actresses that require things like a head covering, and a brand has to go through the process of producing that – that capability and inclusion becomes a part of a brand’s DNA.”

Photo credit: Courtesy
Photo credit: Courtesy

As for Ali, she doesn’t think we need to add labels and restrictions onto what she wears, but she does agree that brands need to diversify their teams in order to understand how everyone may want to dress.

“I think people need to stop overthinking,” she tells us. “Clothes are clothes, anyone should be able to wear any look. I think people need to be more imaginative and not be afraid to take a ‘risk’. Any look can be modest, we just need more models and more people in those teams.”

“There’s no such thing as ‘modest clothing’, they’re just clothes,” she adds. “It’s because we’ve attached weird connotations to this idea of ‘modest clothing’ that now people who dress modestly don’t have many options.”

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