Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Muslim catwalk in Teheran

Women in high-heeled shoes and plenty of make-up strut down the catwalk amid clouds of artificial smoke.

The only unusual aspect is that they are all wearing Islamic dress; including some draped from head to toe in the all enveloping chador.
It's part of a new drive to give women more attractive choices of Islamic dress that allow them to express their individuality, while remaining within the letter of the law.

'Western dolls'
Many of the women on the streets of Tehran do indeed look more like Western fashion models than the models on the catwalk.

Conservative MP Rafat Bayat, who always wears a black chador, believes the problem is the state never educated young people properly.

According to the law, a woman who does not cover her hair and body in public can be fined or imprisoned for up to two months.
But there are hundreds of shops throughout North Tehran selling glamorous strapless dresses and low-cut, beaded tops for women to wear at parties.

New models
Aware that imposing Islamic dress by force hasn't worked, Iran's police decided to hold their own fashion exhibition recently to educate women about what they should be wearing - though there were no live models.

The police exhibition included displays about what is considered un-Islamic dress and an attempt to convert young women to wearing the chador.

But young women are increasingly turning away from the chador - it's expensive, hot and difficult to wear.
So chador designers have come up with new models to make them more stylish and practical, for example a chador with sleeves.
"The traditional chador is a semi circle of cloth, and keeping it on your head is really hard and you absolutely have to wear something underneath - an overcoat and headscarf - to complete your Islamic dress.
"But by wearing this new type of chador it's not necessary to wear an overcoat underneath," says designer Fahimeh Mahoutchi

From the article by By Frances Harrison BBC News, Tehran

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