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Iran Takes Women’s Fashion Head-On

By Yaver Kazimbeyli May 12, 2017

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Rules on 'Islamic dress' for women are enforced by police in Iran. In this picture, two policewomen warn a woman (centre) about her hair and clothing / Majid Saeedi / Getty Images

Iran hosted a “Chastity and Hijab Fair,” a fashion and clothes exhibition, last week simultaneously with the 30th Tehran International Book Fair in southern Tehran, from May 3 – 13. Some 50 fashion institutes attended the exhibition.

Fashion and clothing is a complicated issue in the Islamic Republic of Iran, which adopted a strict dress code ever since the Iranian Revolution swept the country in 1979. Unlike in neighboring Pakistan, also an Islamic Republic, for example, attire is prescribed by law in Iran rather than just a cultural norm. Iran’s code calls for women to cover their hair, necks and arms, and prohibits men from wearing shorts.

Islamic dress in the country urges women to wear the cape-like chador, a black cloak that encases all but their face and hands. The manteaux, a kind of mid-length, buttoned-up tunic tied at the waist that ends up looking like a short trench coat, is also popular. Unlike the more baggy chador, the manteaux is fitted, while still covering all the required body parts.

But young women in particular are pushing the boundaries. In the process they’ve created a very distinct fashion. Rather than don a chador or manteaux, many opt to cover their hair with a simple headscarf. Despite strict fashion restrictions, Iranian designers are blending contemporary trends and marketable styles with the country’s legal code.

IRNA recent reported that Iran will launch an Internet-based fashion magazine at some point in the near future, under supervision of Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance. According to a report released last week by the ministry's fashion and clothes working group, the magazine’s purpose is to provide fashion-conscious individuals in Iran with desirable and suitable clothing options.

Read more: fashion, Iran