August 23, 2006

Project Runway, Iran Edition

Cross-posted from American Princess

Generally, when we cover a crossover between fashion and terrorism, it revolves around some designers sudden inspiration to create a line of clothing that glorifies or otherwise adopts terrorist paraphernalia in what we can only assume is an attempt at hipster irony. There isn't anything paritcularly fashionable about terrorism that hasn't long ago been dismissed as lazy, overheated kitch or pink-o-commie propaganda that was somehow able to worm its way into popular culture through a back door and the overstock pile at Hot Topic.

But that didn't stop Elle magazine from launching a middle eastern version of itself and stationing a cadre of fashion reporters in Beirut (a set-up that isn't working out particularly well at the moment, for obvious reasons), or for Iran to hold its own version of the industry's most glamorous semi-yearly event, the seasonal Fashion Week.

Sort of.

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 yesterday 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 favoured by European designers. The 10-day event is being organised 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 Qur'an.

Now, our immediate reaction was, why bother to have a fashion show, when nearly 90% of the outfits consistently trotted out for news clips, at the direction of whatever Islamic totalitarian government is currently in question, look almost identical (the women in Afghanistan were allowed, briefly, to wear color, we presume, only because they were dropping like hooded flies), and far be it from us to suggest that they might be barking up the wrong tree, but for independent-minded women everywhere, modesty is a hard sell, let alone religiously-inspired oppression. Iran is apparently no different. Lately, the young ladies have been eschewing the shapeless sand sacks for "closely fitted" long dresses, and "trendy" headscarves.

Now, we could launch into a tirade about how becoming too concerned about women leading men on with their beguiling ways, and veiling women completely is a sin against humility, oppression of the entire gender, and the use of religous principles to uphold idiotic and misogynistic male-created values, though perhaps remaining in agreement that girls today dress like they're unaware of the Potential To Flash. But instead, lets just get catty about the fashions.

First we'll start with the rather uncreative, perhaps because this would best give us an example of the classic beauty that every fundamentalist Islamist wants to achieve when putting together that special outfit. Its from here that we work:


That, of course, leads us into what we could generally call 'dangerous territory.' Here we have what can only be indfidel inspiration, since it harbors (gasp!) an A-Line skirt over (gasp!) pants, neither of which has every shown its face around these parts before, and is oddly, and unfortunately, flattering. It also features color. Because this one comes directly after what is perhaps the Christian Dior of Islamic fashion, we can only assume that this is tarty-tarty, and should not, under any circumstances--rich fabric, good seams, finely tailored lines and unique construction, almost Armani-esque--be worn. Ever.


And then, of course, there's always the girl that needs to go to parties. After all, how will your universally underaged daughter ever attract a suitable made with less than fifty wives if shes dressed like she threw on one of those pillowcases Aunt Mahara keeps in the cupboard? There has to be something here that could provide her with that "hey, I'm sexy! but not in any way that could ever come into conflict with Qa'ranic teachings" attitude! By incorporating what appear to be elements of traditional dress, and spicing up that drab grey color with a little orange and red, one can give the impression that, while dying from the stifiling desert heat, you are just a party waiting to happen!

The shift is actually quite well done, almost Nanette Lepore two seasons ago, with summer attributes, and the skirt underlay is purely Calvin Klein in the Sex and the City years. The green scarf contrasts nicely with the burnt sienna, and ads a splash of 80s retro color.


And what would fashion week be without the ubiquitous runway "curtain call" walk, complete with production values that could rival the Christmastime Angels show that they now only broadcast on Spike TV? One can only imagine the pre-show pep talk while makeup is being coordinated, and the models are walking around in their (modest) underthings, with the stage manager barking directions and three thousand people running all over the place trying to find saftey pins and extra fabric in case someone gets frisky and they have to make last minute adjustments. "Work that walk girls, and if you even so much as dare to move that perfectly place chador, then, well, you might find yourself on the soccer field later, if you know what I mean!"

Islam4.jpg (production value)

Its always important to disclose, as a designer that you crib the best parts of others work in order to create your own masterpieces. Its no secret that Diane von Furstenburg inspired the clean lines of thousands of designers, probably including Michael Kors and the host of other dressmakers who now use jersey knit in nearly everything they make despite the fact that normal women are notorious for forgetting that you have to be very careful about undergarments when donning skintight fare, so it shouldn't be a problem for Islamic desingers to admit that they might have cribbed this one from another religion. She's a bit, um, "nun-y" if you ask us, and though the shift is showing ankle (scandalous! and red shoes too!), its still drawing awfully close to late-seventies Missoni. You simply aren't seeing the dramatic construction here--theres far too much fabric, and its bordering on unfinished, particularly at the top--and what is with that hem! Its as though the camel got to it before the sewing machine was through.

Perhaps this is a designers poor attempt at recreating the unfinished, yet Euro-polished styles we were seeing a couple of seasons ago, and that that chick on Project Runway with the unidentifiable European accent seems to keep producing show, after show, after show. Its got post-modern flair, but taken to to the extreme, its all Hansel and Gretel and Keira Knightly after falling over the side of the Black Pearl. Its just too "Dieter does Castaway." The undershirt however, is quite current. Poke thumbholes in the sleeves and Juicy Couture might introduce that mock-neck into the winter line.


Every fashion show must end with a bang, and while we've seen mostly conservative thus far, drawing on modern and pre-modern (and very, very pre-modern) elements in order to create what seems to be a comprehensive list of things we would never wear, but could rightfully be acknowledged for their architectural beauty. Which means that somewhere, lurking inside, is Jean-Paul Gautier and Marc Jacobs Islamic love child, though that kind of love child is clearly against Islamic law.


And there you have it. Never complain to us that we've not shown you how to wear this seasons fashion, or give you a lesson in culture appreciation. We've got to say, if we had to kick someone off, a la Heidi Klum, we'd clearly say "Auf Wiedersehen" to the top one. Its just so...plain.

(Disclaimer, since we did this once before and got hate mail--we are actually former fashion industry people. We've produced this as pure satire, and if you aren't smart enough to recognize that, then there's nothing we can really do to help you, now, is there?)

Pictures, "courtesy" of AP . (More, and larger, at the link)

Posted by E. M. Zanotti at August 23, 2006 12:15 PM

Great post. Very happy I found your site!

I tried to track back to you, but looks like it didn't work. :-(

Pax. Kimberly

Posted by: I Gallop On at August 24, 2006 08:44 AM

May I see your picture ID please¬Ņ

Posted by: Robert Prevost at August 24, 2006 11:24 AM