Years of struggling to find clothes that represent her Muslim faith as well as her interest in fashion have inspired Huddersfield graduate Nadia Hadhrami to the point where she has seen her designs on the catwalk at the prestigious York Fashion Week.

Nadia’s modest wear designs, featuring eye-catching butterfly motifs, have helped her take the next step in her career overseas with a scholarship place at the Accademia Costume and Moda in Rome.

Having graduated with a 1:1 in Fashion, Design and Textiles in 2022, Nadia was encouraged by her friend and fellow fashion graduate Emily Oaks to try for a place at York Fashion Week. The event’s organisers loved what they saw, and Nadia’s ‘Hands off my Hijab’ earned coverage on BBC Look North and the BBC news website.

“Every Muslim woman, especially in Europe, struggles to find clothes that represents who they are and their personality while at the same time representing their faith and beliefs,” says Nadia. “They want something they are confident in but still represents their faith.

“It is not based on trend or fashion, but it is fashion with a meaning that is for them, is modest and something they could wear. I do not want to design something that is just based on trend, I design with my inspiration and for something they can keep for the future and not just for a year or two.

“They want it to stand out for their personality and make them feel confident while at the same time representing their faiths and beliefs.”

Supported by the University’s Enterprise Placement Team and her teachers, Nadia turned her dream of better choice in modest wear from an idea into reality with her business called Creativity Demure.

“The university and my degree are the basis for everything I do now,” Nadia continues.  “It is where I grew my skills and experience, something that you do not quite realise it until you have graduated. The staff were awesome and so helpful to me, and the facilities especially after we moved into the Barbara Hepworth Building were great.

“It helped build my graduate collection, and that in turn helped me get into York Fashion Week. It opened doors that I never thought I would be able to reach.”

Using material donated to the university by Alexander McQueen, Nadia developed her designs to include the butterfly as a symbol of resilience.

“The prints and embroidery on this collection are bright and bold in each garment. I have used ultraviolet thread to represent the hidden details when the butterfly opens its wings. This also links to the way Muslim women cover their beauty by dressing modestly.

“As in many cultures, butterflies symbolise hope, change and resilience. It will represent the message behind my collection which is a change in the fashion market and hope for Muslim women to be resilient about dressing into what makes them feel confident, and that represents their personality.

Having her designs seen in public at York’s Guildhall was the icing on the cake for Nadia, who will start her scholarship in Rome next year. Before then, she is working for a Rotherham sewing machinists whose portfolio includes making items for contestants in the World’s Strongest Man.

“Seeing my work on the catwalk was amazing. It was quite touching to see the results of four years of developing my skills and experience then presented to people, and to see that they are liking it. It was a great experience, and the York Fashion Week team were amazing to work with.”