The streets of Iran's capital, Tehran, are home to many conservatively dressed locals in the community. A country with a strict Muslim dress code, Iran has long been closed off to the West, and it is not common to see its locals wearing the latest designs. The outer garment worn by women in Iran is known as the chador and is similar to the abaya which is seen in the Gulf countries. Iranian women have a conservative dress code. Is this about to change? Well, after the election of President Hassan Rouhani, and the comeback of fashion shoots for international publications, we could perhaps see just that.
The streets of Tehran have been used as a backdrop in recent photo shoots for an international magazine. Having Tehran's bazaars as the location of a fashion shoot is something one would most definitely not expect to come across. The model, Shabnam Molavi, featured in the shoot. She wore creations by Zarir while shooting in Tehran's Tajrish bazaar, and a few designs by Manouchehri House at her shoot in Kashan.
While the locals in the background wore their usual garments, Molavi, instead draped herself in bold colors and floral designs. Her outfits were, however, still fairly modest and she donned a brightly colored headscarves. These creations made her stand out from the crowd and showed off her natural beauty. It did spark some interest, with many onlookers seeming quite surprised and a bit skeptical. On the other hand, a local vendor in the bazaar had an entirely different reaction and insisted on being featured in one of the shoots. So, one never knows what to expect.
Afra Pourdad shot the pictures for a magazine which is based in California and says, "When I walked into the bazaar, I was very conscious of what I'm doing and where I'm doing it. But then after a few minutes, I felt like: I'm doing this and this is the opportunity, so I can't really be too fearful of what I want to do."
It is the first shoot held in Iran for an international publication since Vogue had a shoot there in the late 1960's. As Iran's younger generations "push the boundaries" we can expect to see a transformation in the Iranian fashion scene in time to come, while at the same time "staying within respectable limits of their religion."
In a nation as conservative as Iran, being so closed off from the Western fashion and lifestyle, such a change in their regular dress code may not be so easily welcomed by some. As international interest in Iranian fashion grows, this may change in time to come.