Sat, Jul 15, 2006 - Page 6 News List

Iran's fashion police tout modesty in chador show

`HIJAB' Determined to bring modesty back into fashion, Iran hosted its first Islamic dress fair, featuring ankle-length manteaus and all-covering chadors

THE GUARDIAN , TEHRAN

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 on Thursday 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 favored by European designers.

The 10-day event is being organized 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 Koran.

Hundreds of women, most wearing chadors, browsed an array of outfits, many of which appeared strikingly uniform in their dark coloring and full length.

The sales pitch was reinforced by a fringe exhibition of quotes extolling the virtue of Islamic hijab. One, from the Prophet Mohammed, 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."

The exhibition was a response to recent trends among many young Iranian women towards short, tight-fitting manteaus and headscarves pushed back to expose elaborate hair styles.

Hamid Reza Moniri, the exhibition's executive secretary, said it had been organized to help stem a cultural invasion from the West.

"We believe that dressing in recent years has been influenced and damaged by non-Iranian fashions," he said.

"Some international designers and television news channels have invaded our culture and influenced the morality of our youth and our nation. If you look at Western countries, you never see statues of the Virgin Mary depicting her half-naked, but that is now the case with Western dress. We don't want to end up like Westerners," he said.

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