This Article is From Jan 17, 2011

Iranian models take the hijab to the catwalk

Tehran: In a fashion studio in Tehran, many Iranian girls can be seen learning the tricks of the trade.

Under the expert eye of modelling coach Forouzan Shahkoupa, the girls perfect their walk as they sashay down the catwalk.

There are no revealing outfits and all models are wearing the hijab, the traditional head scarf.

In recent years, Iran's attitude to models has changed, says Shahkoupa.

"Modelling was an unknown thing in Iran but now many people know what a model is, what she does and what kind of job it is. People's view of girls who do modelling has changed. The models only take up this job only if their physique is appropriate for the job. For instance, a person who is 165cm tall (5' 4") does not let herself try modelling," says Shahkoupa.

One of the biggest obstacles facing Iranian models is the poor pay.

If it wasn't for their passion for the profession many would just quit.

One of the country's most successful models is Farnaz Zahedi. Young, tall, elegant, she has been modelling professionally for the last couple of years.

She believes Iranian models are just as good as their Russian counterparts, who are attracting work in countries like Turkey or the United Arab Emirates.

Zahedi's face has appeared on the covers of Iranian fashion magazines.

In fact she's proved so popular, neighbouring countries have asked her to perform in shows, something the authorities and her agent will not allow.

"We should observe rules in this job according to Islamic Republic of Iran's law. For example, a live women's catwalk show cannot be performed before men's eyes," says Zahedi.

Iranian designers often work together to come up with new dress designs that conform to Islamic laws. Iranian designers often work together to come up with designs that conform to the Islamic laws. And one accessory which is a must, is the hijab.

In a country that forbids women to display their hair or bodies, these Iranian models have not only learned to adapt this glamorous profession according to Islamic rules, but have made it their own too.