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.
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.
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, 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).