They are unlikely to grace any catwalk or adorn the figures of supermodels, but the latest in Islamic fashions got top billing from Iran’s religious authorities yesterday in an exhibition aimed at promoting female modesty and countering the influence of western clothing.
Tehran’s Imam Khomeini mosque hosted the country’s first Islamic dress fair, in which ankle-length manteaus, or overcoats, and all-covering black chadors supplanted the sexually daring styles favoured by European designers. The 10-day event is being organised by Iran’s police force along with the commerce ministry and the state
broadcasting corporation, IRIB, to promote the idea of women dressing stylishly in line with the values in the Qur’an.
Hundreds of women, most wearing chadors or other forms of conservative dress, browsed an array of outfits, many of which appeared strikingly uniform in their dark colouring and full length. But representatives from the Tehran-based Superior Hijab Production Company modelled a blue chador that departed from tradition by coming with sleeves – solving an age-old practical problem.
Now there’s progress.
The sales pitch was reinforced by a fringe exhibition of quotes extolling the virtue of Islamic hijab. One, from the prophet Muhammad, read: “Any woman with faith in Allah and the resurrection day won’t expose her adornments to any man except her husband. Any woman who does these things for other than her husband has betrayed her faith and provoked God’s anger.”
But some young women were less impressed. “The designs here are not appropriate for the youth or people of my age,” said Shakoofeh, 19, a student. “I came along out of curiosity to see what the authorities think we should wear. I would not wear hijab at all if it wasn’t the law.”