For One Muslim Fashion Designer, Showing Less Skin Is More Sexy

by Amy Bucknam

Fashion designer Nzinga Knight doesn’t use low-cut necklines in her designs, or gowns with thigh-high slits exposing bare legs. There’s no cleavage, back, or belly showing on the models who wear her designs. Why? Knight’s a devout Muslim. Instead of flaunting the wearer’s assets, her work’s sex appeal is tied to the mystery of the covered body. “The look of my work is sensual, mysterious, innovative,” she told Yahoo! News. She explained that her target is “a woman who’s happy to be a woman.”

Knight’s newest line consists of 10 dresses and several blouses and will be premiering at this season’s New York Fashion Week. Growing up as a Muslim woman in stylish New York has greatly influenced Knight’s designs. She launched her line in 2008 when, she explained, most designers were set on the idea of showing a lot of “cleavage and back.” She explains, “My aesthetic was something really missing in the market. It’s very distinct and can give me an edge.”



Knight understands what Americans think of women in Muslim countries who cover their entire bodies in long black robes, or abayas. They’re often terrified at the image and pity these women, imagining the oppression they endure. Knight believes, however, that women in Western culture have more obstacles to overcome because of their gender than they may realize. “I think that women in this society aren’t allowed just to stand on their own merit,” she says. “For most of the women who really make it, you know, they have to take their clothes off. That’s the game they have to play.”

Instead, Knight leaves something to the imagination. “I think it’s sexy for a woman to have secrets,” she says, “good secrets.” Knight’s clothes are targeted at a Muslim clientele– do you think they could find success with a non-Muslim audience?

Image credit: Yahoo! and

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