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Capture Iranian fashion is finally stepping out of its shadow after years of being overlooked by other more favorable cultures. The sector is bustling thanks to the religious edict that both modeling and fashion are permissible under Islam. A group of 20 young men gathered at the Oxygen Royal health and fitness center, situated in northern Tehran. All the men looked identical in black t-shirts with the writing 'DFW' across the chest. DFW stands for Darab fashion week. The health and fitness center is situated in the affluent area of Gheytarieh, near to the Alborz Mountains, which overlooks most of Iran's capital. The workout center is well equipped with advanced machinery and is full of VIP members. Some say it resembles the Beverly Hills! However, there's a twist. The center is being taken over by Iran's male models so that they can rehearse on the catwalk under the careful watch of a professional trainer, who will also get them ready for future castings. The outcomes are very positive for the male models. All of the men have secured contracts for the upcoming Darab fashion week, which is scheduled to be held in September. If plans go accordingly, the event will be held at Esteghal hotel. It has taken more than 30 years of reluctance and perseverance for fashion in the Islamic Republic to get finally recognized. There is now a greater demand for models across Iran since more fashion events are taking place. Behpooshi is a model agency that became one of the first companies that gained permission to operate legally early last year. Behpooshi hires the majority of the models who train at Oxygen Royal. The agency has signed approximately 30 female and 50 male models and has successfully introduced them to high profile events like Derab. Behpooshi's director, Sharif Razavi shared his thoughts on the industry. He explained how the reported growth of the sector was not exaggerated. He said how in 30 years only 10-15 catwalks could be seen throughout Iran. However, now there are greater than 100 catwalks throughout the country. Such an increase is evidence that the industry is finally booming. Although Behpooshi established themselves seven years ago, they were forced to operate underground like many other Iranian modeling agencies. Everything changed when Razavi wrote to the Iranian supreme leader almost three years ago. He asked for a religious edict to find whether Islam forbids modeling and fashion. To his surprise and delight, it didn't. Razavi didn't stop there and continued his investigation by contacting the ministry of culture and Islamic guidance. It was his perseverance that changed people's perception concerning fashion and modeling. If people had approached authorities in earlier years looking to open a modeling agency, they would have been shunned. Fortunately, times have changed. Despite the industries huge step forward, there are still hurdles to overcome. Darab fashion week will showcase work by many Iranian fashion designers. However, men are not permitted to watch the women's show even though women are allowed to be an audience member at the men's catwalk performance. There may still be challenges ahead for Iran's fashion industry, but they are indeed starting to get some of the recognition that they deserve.
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