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Iranian designers seek chic in Islamic dress... ON THE CATWALK IN TEHRAN
Wed Jul 11 2007 10:20:44 ET

While not exactly trying to put the chic into chador, Iranian fashion designer Haniyeh Abedi believes the strict Islamic dress code requiring women to be covered from head to toe does not mean they cannot look good.

"A woman can look glamorous and feminine while fully observing Islamic values," said 25-year-old Abedi, clad in one of her own designs, a light-brown gown bordered with motifs of traditional Persian designs and a colourful headscarf.

In her latest creations, displayed at her north Tehran house, she has mixed a burst of bright colours inspired by the latest European designs with traditional Persian costumes.

Young designers like Abedi are fusing contemporary style with modesty and an ethnic flavour. Their special focus is the manteau -- a French word referring to a long overshirt or coat, worn in public on top of an outfit.

Samira, 24, a medical student visiting Abedi's display in the basement of her home, says the colours are inspirational.

"Using bright colours instead of browns, dark blues and greys favoured by the system gives me a morale boost too," she said, wearing a beige manteau with orange pockets.

The dour image of Iranian women in shapeless, black chadors -- the word literally means 'tent' -- may be true of some, but others, particularly in wealthier areas of Tehran, would hardly look out of place in Paris or Milan. Designer labels flash under flimsy outer shirts that barely cover thighs and arms.

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