Before Halima Aden became the first hijab-wearing model to be signed to IMG Models, there was Underwraps, the first Muslim and modest female modeling agency.
Created by Nailah Lymus, a 33-year-old designer from Brooklyn, N.Y., its goal is to serve and represent a growing enclave — women who want to model modestly. It was founded in 2013, when the modest fashion scene was just starting to boom.
Models represented by Underwraps have a set of guidelines that photographers and stylists on a set must follow. The model must be provided with a single-sex dressing room. The model must be provided with a full-length robe. The model needs privacy from male crew members. And her hair and makeup can’t be fixed by a male.
This is not Lymus’ first venture into the fashion world. In 2004, she launched her own fashion label, Amirah Creations. She has shown her collection at New York Fashion Week in 2014, quite a feat for any designer — especially ones who are self-taught like Lymus.
Underwraps represents 10 women, five who are Muslim and five of whom are of different faiths and all modesty-inclined. Her models have been hired for photo shoots, more recently one from sports brand Nike, for shows during New York Fashion Week and for events like New Jersey’s Hijab Fest.
The fashion world has changed from the time Lymus had the idea to create a modeling agency exclusively for Muslim women and others who choose to dress a certain way. In 2013, the term “modest model” sounded oxymoronic. Today, it’s simply alliteration.