Combining fashion and modest dress codes in Iran

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Combining fashion and modest dress codes in Iran

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Tehran, Iran:  Islamic fashion need not be dreary, that's the message of this collection of Islamic fashions in Tehran. And it's images like this that the government hopes will show young people that clothing doesn't have to be revealing to be chic.

Since the Iranian Revolution in 1979, the Islamic regime has required all women to wear the Hijab (Islamic dress codes) in public. However the lack of inspiring domestic clothing designs has made women, especially young girls, turn to western styles of clothing.

Western style clothing is favoured by many women - who adjust their modern outfits to suit Islamic dress codes. But the tide is turning in some Iranian fashion houses. With the backing of the government some designers are leaning towards a revival of Iran's centuries old dress styles.

Researcher and fashion designer, Hasti Homayoun carried out a six month study on current trends for textiles and fashion. She says her study shows that many Iranian women would favour Islamic orientated clothing if it was presented to them in the right way.

"I realised that people are willing to wear Iranian designs provided that the cuts and designs suit their taste. Definitely there are rules in every society that citizens should follow (referring to Iranian Islamic dress code regulations) but it should be considered that the taste of people of that country in terms of colour and designs must be taken into account.

The designs should be modern and in such a way that men and women should be able to wear them outside their home, on the bus, in a taxi or in their cars. If such a thing is presented definitely everybody would wear it," she says.

Shadi Parand is an ex model and owner of one of the oldest fashion ouses in Iran. She's pioneering a nationwide drive to bring traditional fashion back into the mainstream.

Parand inherited her multi million dollar fashion house from her late mother who was one of the most prominent designers during Iran's pre-revolution era.

Unlike some designers, who believe offering an attractive creation is contradictory with Islamic rules in place, Parand believes presenting beautiful creations and observing Islamic rules can happily go hand in hand.

"Just being covered doesn't mean to be pretty and just being pretty or being presentable doesn't mean to be naked. You can be totally covered and just (at the same time) have a beautiful presence or beautiful appearance. And I think they are not contradictory at all," Parand says.

Parand also adds that she sees the Iranian government's restrictions on women's clothing as an opportunity to revive ancient Persian fashions.

The designer says her fashion house receives many orders from customers from all walks of life ranging from diplomats and actresses to ordinary people who want to try Iranian creations.

"Anyhow, in any society and any country you have to follow some rules and regulations. But here I think in different ways we have a sort of freedom to just make a new way, I wouldn't say freedom, we have the opportunity to create something that has been absent for a while and now we have to... it's a comeback for Iranian style and Iranian designs," she says.

Western style fashions are very popular in Iran with both man and women, so it might take time for the designer's influence to reach the high street, but they are confident their ideas will eventually become mainstream.

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