As the hijab, or veil, becomes increasingly popular among Egyptian Muslim women, it is only logical that the trend would be reflected on in the world of high fashion. That’s where Yassmin Mohsen comes in.
Mohsen is the first veiled Egyptian model. While she’s still relatively young, her career has taken off since her university graduation two years ago. Since then she has hosted TV shows and walked the catwalks. Now she is working on her own fashion line. Al-Masry Al-Youm met with the prominent fashion figure to discuss her her past, her future, and what’s stood in her way.
Al-Masry al-Youm: What is your educational background?
Yassmin Mohsen: I studied mass communication at Cairo University and graduated in 2009. My graduation was a bit delayed because of my busy schedule as a model.
Al-Masry: How did you begin your career as a model?
Mohsen: It all happened seven years ago, completely by coincidence. I had recently started wearing the hijab and I was aiming for a job as a TV hostess but in return I got a role in an advertisement on a foreign channel. After a few ads, people started to recognize me. Later, I started hosting several programs on Jordanian and Iraqi channels. My first fashion show was in 2006 in Egypt for casual wear and the veil.
Al-Masry: When is your next fashion show?
Mohsen: Right before Ramadan. The entire fashion show is for veiled clothes and I am very excited about the idea.
Al-Masry: How do you manage in the changing room?
Mohsen: I usually wear a bodysuit as a base so as not be naked in the middle of the changing room.
Al-Masry: Do you think more veiled models will surface on the fashion world?
Mohsen: Three years ago, I launched the Veiled Models Association to make it easier for potential veiled models to enter the fashion world. The association helps candidates with job interviews and courses in modeling, photo shoots and cat walk technique. The association lately organized its first fashion show with ten of its most promising future models and it was a big success.
Al-Masry: Who supported you in your career?
Mohsen: Strangely enough, my dad was supportive but my mother was against the career path. A lot of people attack me both–conservatives and liberals. But modeling got me where I am and I will never quit. Additionally, veiled fashion is seasonal and I seldom get jobs. That is why I accept every show I get.
Al-Masry: Do you think you are starting a movement for veiled women?
Mohsen: More women are getting interested in wearing the hijab nowadays and that is why I am getting a lot of support and admiration for what I am trying to do.
Al-Masry: Do you think veil fashion will prevail eventually?
Mohsen: I believe veil fashion will occupy the majority of fashion shows in the future. After all, more women are wearing the hijab nowadays and the market must accommodate their needs.
Al-Masry: What are your future plans?
Mohsen: Well, currently I write for Hijjab Fashion Magazine and I’m preparing for the launch of my first fashion line for veiled young women. Pretty soon, I will be modeling my own designs to promote the name Yassmin Mohsen locally and abroad. I want to change the way society sees veiled women. I want to remove the tacky image and replace it with a simple, yet chic one. Simplicity is a woman’s way to becoming a princess. I want to help veiled women to look their best on their special day, from the dress to their veil and make-up.