Iranianculture is a curious medley of Islamic, Persian and
Western influences. It was, in many ways, the cradle of
civilisation: Iranians were writing books while people in West
still played with fire. Even today, the country prizes education
and cosmopolitanism. Its cultural tapestry separates from the rest
of the Middle East; its people speak Farsi (not Arabic) and adhere
to the Shia branch of the Islamic faith (as opposed to the Sunni
Islam practiced in areas such as Saudi Arabia and Iraq).
Yet the country's 1979 Islamic Revolution saw the booting out of
the ruling Shah who was then considered too corrupt and
Western-influenced by the religious clergy. Instead, there was a
return to Islamic purity and a clamp down on Western dressing.
Where Iranian women had once dressed in a similar fashion to their
American counterparts, vibrant garments and anything perceived to
be emulating Western clothing or promoting sexuality was
restricted. The hijab became legal requirement.
So, while fashion designers in secular societies experimented
and flourished - bound only by trends and sales figures - Iranian fashion designers were constrained by
theocratic law. Most stayed within the guidelines, but, inevitably,
others began to rebel and push boundaries. The internet aided this
sartorial rebellion, transcending national borders and proving
difficult for the state to police.
Earlier this year, as Iran scaled back its nuclear programme and
the UN lifted socio-economic sanctions against the country, its
fashion industry has once again fallen onto the global stage.
Overseas brands wanting to tap into the Iranian retail appetite
- predominantly Italian - have eagerly opened franchises across
Tehran. Yet Iran has a fashion pulse of its own, with a rich
textile history, an eerily beautiful aesthetic and colour palette.
The Iranian fashion industry is finding it feet, overcoming
morality politics and pushing the boundaries with creative
We look at five Iranian brands that have got the industry
Meaning 'pomegranate' in Persian, this colourful brand was
founded by Anousheh Assefi in 2006 and updates traditional Iranian
fashion with a contemporary pallet. Anar specialises in scarves and
manteaus - a type of overcoat that is worn by Iranian women. While
its emphasis is on style, modernity and beauty, it still adheres to
Iran's more traditional dress code.
This elegant brand will push your wardrobe choices outside the
box. Designer Farnaz Abdoli's mission is to create beautiful
clothing that does not conflict with Islamic dress codes. Each
season she merges global styles with cultural dress, placing a huge
emphasis on colour and sophistication, tailored to a woman's
Despite migrating from Tehran to Canada aged 16, Arefeh Mansouri has stayed true
to her roots in her designs. Her clothes are the perfect example of
Iranian clothing made palatable to a Western audience, employing
Persian fabrics, shapes and opulent colours. It harks back to Iran
pre-revolution, where decadent clothing and feminine sexuality were
celebrated. Her bridal collections invoke Persian daydreams, with
mesmerising use of embroidery techniques and silks.
Touted as one of the leaders of pioneering fashion in Iran,
Naghmeh Kiumarsi's creations blend contemporary aesthetic with
Iranian tradition. The modern, stylish clothing is laced with
remnants from Iran's rich history, such as its calligraphy, poetry
and geometric pattern. While Kiumarsi sought to target the Iranian
woman, her creations have gained global recognition, taking her
brand to UAE and Edinburgh.
Launched by Shirazi Maryam Vahidzadeh in 2012, Radaa's playful
aesthetic using colorblock and bold accessories is aimed largely at
a younger clientele. Vahidzadeh encourages Iranian women to express
themselves through their own cultural prism rather than looking to
Western brands for style and is loath to sacrifice comfort for
Pandora Sykes x HunzaG: How Essex Inspired a Swimwear Line