Fashion Bytes — Ahmadinejad-Sponsored Fashion

Image via Washington Post

Costume Society of America posted a Washington Post article to their Facebook page last week, discussing a clash between Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the country’s clerics over his choice to sponsor a fashion show. Iranian law states that all young women must cover their bodies and their hair, and the clerics’ recommended garment is the chadour — a full body cloak, usually in black. However, more and more arrests are being made as Iranian women bend the rules by wearing tighter, more revealing clothing and scarves that only barely cover their heads. Ahmadinejad praised the recent fashion show as a way to give Iranian women ideas and other options that would enable them to comply with the law, but still participate in fashion and express themselves through their clothing. This support has angered the clerics.

The young women attending the fashion show (and their mothers) were overjoyed with what they saw. One young graphic designer went so far as to say that once society accepts a style of dress, there is no going back, and that is was has been continually happening in Iran. Once unable to wear boots, they now do, once required to button their coats, they now wear them open.

Fashion Bytes has previously discussed Islamic women’s dress on more than one occasion, whether discussing the French law banning the niqab, the convictions of women who wore it anyway, the banning of the Iranian women’s soccer team from the olympics, the odd idea that Western dress represents freedom in Iraq, or the style of Pakistan’s Foreign Minister. The consensus seems to be that the women should be allowed to dress as they choose.  But Iran is a theocracy, making such a basic freedom impossible; that being said, their soccer team’s uniforms, and the fashion show seem to suggest that while the country’s religious leaders are unwilling to accept modern interpretations of modest dress, the rest of the country is.

Do you think the fashion show is providing Iranian women — and perhaps Muslim women from other countries and cultures — with more options in clothing? Or is it merely a ploy by Ahmadinejad to gain votes? Do you think it will challenge Iranian fashion designers to be more creative and innovative in their designs for women? Does the Iranian government have a point when they claim that Western fashion and advertisements “abuse women’s bodies” to sell products?

Please share your thoughts.

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