Moving away from dark clothing, Iranian designers are trying to strike a fine balance between a growing trend favouring bright colours and the Islamic republic’s strict dress code for women.
“As a young woman, I choose clothes in a modern design with bright colours,” 22-year-old designer Hadis Hassanlou told AFP at a fashion exhibition in the historic Saadabad Palace in Tehran.
Since shortly after the 1979 revolution, women in Iran have had to observe a strict dress code and wear loose-fitting garments while also covering the head and neck.
When they venture out into the streets, many women opt for head-to-toe black chadors. But in recent years, Iranian designers have also sought to include brighter colours in their creations.
New designs at the exhibition, where some 50 garments were on show, included everything from black chadors to long floral-patterned dresses and coats fitted at the waist.
“When designing, I first take society’s norms and rules into consideration,” said designer Sanaz Sarparasti.
She says her colourful designs aimed to keep up with growing trends among young Iranian women.
They “want to be freer, more modern and more up-to-date in how and what they wear”, Sarparasti said.
The strict dress code for women has been the subject of heated debate since nationwide protests following the death in custody in September 2022 of Mahsa Amini.
Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurd, had been arrested for allegedly breaching the dress code.
During the protests, many women demonstrators cast off their headscarves or even burned them. Others increasingly began to flout the clothing rules, leading to a severe crackdown by the authorities.
– Strict norms –
Designers say the shift to brighter colours has not been easy, especially as many women still stick to darker shades.
“Societal norms and the country’s regulations often require darker