Zoom Seminar: Instagram and the Politics of Streetstyle in Iran; An Overview of the Social Media Strategy Used by Fashion Designers

Written by Leili Nekounazar, PhD researcher, Cultural Studies

An upcoming Zoom seminar organized by TechnAct, the research cluster on gender, sexualities, emergent communities and technocultural assemblages at the University of Gothenburg.

In this pop-up seminar I will present a chapter of my PhD thesis on “Fashion and Aesthetics Politics in Post- Revolutionary Iran”. The seminar will focus on the rising female fashion designers in Iran and the way they take advantage of social media platforms, in particular Instagram, to push back the existing restrictions on the underground fashion activities in Iran, in order to advance their business plans by introducing their designs to a large audience, marketing, and acquiring artistic inspirations, while at the same time contributing -not always intentionally- to the anti- compulsory hijab campaigns. 

An Iranian model on Instagram

Like any other Cultural Studies researcher, I am fascinated with the political dynamics of everyday life practices. I found the evolution of the Iranian women’s urban attire, over which, the Iranian upper- middle class groups of women struggle with the state for almost more than four decades, a platform of studying and observing such undercurrents. Indeed, how the Iranian women are challenging the compulsory hijab in Iran, and their subtle way of manipulating the Islamic dress codes in order to invent and create their own version of dress, comes about as a perfect case study of how ordinary people construct and participate in the everyday life practices. 

Women’s outfit in the early years of the Islamic revolution

Since the Islamic revolution in 1979, all Iranian women over the age of 9 are obliged to observe the Islamic hijab in public spaces. In the course of the past 41 years, the regime in Iran has implemented many moral projects and enforced various strict policies to impose a certain set of dress codes on women. However, according to the state’s officials’ statements, long after the victory of the Islamic revolution, the regime in Iran has not yet made an impressive progress in unifying the Iranian modern women’s urban attire. Ironically, as the results of 41 years push and pull, along with implementing many hijab- related state’s maneuvers that also involve harsh threats, violence and prison, the very pale, loose- fitting and lengthy garment that was imposed on the modern women in the early years of the Islamic revolution, has transformed to a stylish, sexy and beautified version of hijab, which looks way different from what is officially and politically accepted. 

In the past few years, the outfit of the Iranian modern women has radically changed

In the past few years, with the advent of social media platforms, a new generation of female fashion designers has emerged. These young women, of whom many are the art schools and universities’ graduates, deploy social media platforms to manifest their creativity in design and their ability to tactfully create a more stylish dress by displacing and manipulating the existing dress codes, thus pushing the current limits and boundaries. In my seminar on 19th of October, 2020, I will address how this generation of fashion designers, who regard fashion as their livelihood and their way of becoming financially empowered and independent, use Instagram in a hide and seek, on and off manner with the state, for the purpose of outreach and advertisement. In this way, they reclaim the right of choosing the desired attire, paving the way towards reclaiming the female body and dress. My conclusions are based on the analysis of 7-8 hours Skype interviews with a few models, fashion bloggers and fashion designers based in Iran, which will be presented during the seminar that takes place on Zoom.

Please register by sending an email to mia.liinason [at] gu.se. You will receive a zoom link upon registration.

The seminar will take place on October 19, 13.15-15.00 (CET).

Photographic Memories Workshop

By Clarissa Colangelo

Photographic memoriesP1How was life in Leuven a century ago? Where did people meet up? Which was the most frequented shop? What games did kids play? While looking at photographs of the landmarks of Leuven, these are some of the questions that cross our minds. We want the photographs to speak to us and share their memories of past times. We not only want to see how the city used to look like, but we also want to know more about the city’s past inhabitants and their ways of living.

On Friday, November 27th the Europeana Space Photography Pilot coordinated by Professor Fred Truyen will host the “Photographic Memories Workshop” in collaboration with the Leuven City Archive. Seniors, students, citizens of Leuven and surrounding areas are invited: join us for a voyage in time, through the stories hidden in our photographic heritage and a Wet Collodion demonstration, and back to the present with the most modern digitization techniques.

We are looking for traces of this past and we need your help. If you hold photographs, negatives and even glass plates that show the past life in the streets, squares and market places of the city, bring them along to the workshop and tell us more about them. Top digitization specialist Bruno Vandermeulen will be there to digitize your photos using state-of-the-art technology, so have a USB stick* with you to bring back home the beautiful, high-quality, digitized versions of your photos. We only ask you to license the photographs as CC-BY-NC, which means that you allow us to reuse the photographs in a non-commercial context.

You will have the opportunity to get to know better the City Archive and its photographic collections.

At 14:00 professional photographer Frederik Van den Broeck will give a demonstration of the Wet Collodion technique and produce few tintypes and ambrotypes. The Wet Plate Collodion procedure is an early photographic process invented in 1851 by Frederick Scott Archer, and takes its name from the Collodion emulsion used to make the plates sensitive to light. The demonstration will be followed by the digitization of the newly-produced tintypes and ambrotypes by Bruno Vandermeulen: a way for us to connect and show you past photographic technologies and present ones.

Don’t miss the opportunity to witness the past and present of photography come together!

Photographic memoriesP2Programme:

  • 10:00 to 19:00
    • Browse through the City Archive collection
    • Digitization Process by Bruno Vandermeulen
  • 14:00 to 17:00
    • Wet Collodion Demonstration By Frederik Van den Broeck
  • 17:00 to 18:00
    • Digitization of a tintype or ambrotype produced with the Wet Collodion Technique

*recommended size: 8GB. Otherwise we can send you the file(s) via email.

Photo courtesy of Stadsarchief Leuven.