Before the spring Fashion Week MN (FWMN) dates were finalized, designer Ramadhan “Rammy” Mohamed considered skipping a collection showcase. It was slated to take place during the month of Ramadan, and she didn’t know if it was feasible to finish a collection while fasting. However, the more she thought about it, the more she couldn’t miss the chance to bring her faith, love of fashion, and community together to talk about Ramadan and—the inspiration for her collection—its jubilant finale, Eid. The fact that her show ended up being on April 26 was even more special: On that day 21 years ago, Mohamed first arrived in the U.S. as a refugee from Oromia, Ethiopia.
Face Masks Instead of Fashion
Mohamed envisioned taking her audience through the entire day of Eid with 20 pieces, from prayer and family time throughout the day to, in her vision, an evening soiree with her girlfriends. When I called her March 27, though, we didn’t start out by talking about her collection. We began by chatting about a project that had superseded her collection: face masks to donate to healthcare workers. Like most events in April, FWMN was cancelled.
Instead of rush-assembling the CDC-compliant pattern that has been circulating, though, she’s trying to create a new one. Mohamed says, “I have a couple of physical therapist cousins who said, ‘Girl, we can’t use this. You’re going to get us sick; there’s going to be leakage.’” According to articles in news outlets such as Wirecutter, only N95 respirator masks are recommended for healthcare workers directly treating COVID-19 patients. However, the DIY face masks allow healthcare workers to prioritize their resources, and now the CDC recommends face masks for civilians.
Mohamed is working on creating a new pattern that uses a floral to fit the nose bridge and a house filter to stop particles. “Maybe I can share these with my designer friends and see if together we can make 50 or 100 to contribute to the craziness,” she says.
A Neon Celebration
Mohamed still has her sights on the collection finish date, and she and Sarah Edwards are brainstorming ways on how to share her collection over Instagram. Eid fashion is all about wearing the nicest, cleanest, and (if you are able to afford it) newest clothes. Mohamed remembers how when she was four or five, her aunt gave her a sparkly poofy dress and black shoes with little straps and heels to wear for Eid. Mohamed had wanted to wear the look so badly, but she was told she had to wait until the special day. The night before, she went to bed in her new shoes, so the next day she could leap out of bed and say, “Ta da! I have new shoes, people!”
While Mohamed’s tastes have certainly changed since then, the excitement and beauty associated with Eid clothing is certainly there. Her collection includes the signature embroidery and beading that her Warm Nights in Finfine collection did from fall FWMN, and she will be using parts of a similar neutral palette. For this collection, though, she is splashing neon across it. She loves how bright it is, and when she talks about its attributes, unconsciously or not, the bold statement it makes seems to bleed into her hopes for the city.
“New York is known for its black, and Minneapolis can be known for how we made neon big,” she laughs. “That would be my dream: making Minnesotan women the next women of New York. Everyone thinks, ‘Oh, we’re shy Midwestern women,’ but we have our own style and our own flair, and we’re a big force to reckon with. I want to put Minneapolis back on the [fashion] map.”
Supporting Creatives Like Mohamed
Two months ago, Mohamed quit her day job to pursue fashion full time. In between her mask making and her Eid collection, she is working on rebuilding her website and making an online store. For now, Mohamed mentions Instagram as a way for people to keep up with what she’s doing. A couple of weeks ago, she created a black face mask emblazoned with pearls, and she’s thinking of possibly holding an Instagram auction for it and other creations and donating the money to a food shelf.
FWMN to You is a series of blogs covering a few of the designers of Fashion Week MN’s cancelled spring lineup. Make sure to check back with Minnesota Monthly’s blog to get the scoop on Sun50, which was planning a show with Wild Isles; Rebekah Anne, who is putting on an experiential fashion show called Belle Epoque with Feta Alpha Gamma and drag queens; and Laura Fulk, who is creating a collection around the watercolor paintings of Laura Weber.