Iran Moves Forward: The Silent Revolution for Iranian Women

Iran Moves Forward: The Silent Revolution for Iranian Women
Farnaz Abdoli: Iran’s Top Designer

Things are changing in Iran and it isn’t just about the politics.  As the nation moves forward politically, the women in Iran are having their own silent revolution. The modesty of their mothers is being forgotten as the modern women of Iran develop their own style.

Women in Iran have been looking to the West for fashion inspiration for quite a while now. The modern Iranian woman has an at-home wardrobe that is nearly indistinguishable from what you would see in the U.S. or Western Europe. The new generation of Iranian women, however, isn’t happy to just emulate Western style. The fashion industry is exploding in Iran and entrepreneurial fashionistas are looking to carve out their own place in the Middle Eastern fashion scene.

It might not be discussed much in the West but Iranian designers, and Middle Eastern fashion in general, is nothing to dismiss. The modesty-focused Muslim fashion market brought in $224 billion last year and that number is expected to exceed $322 billion by 2018.

It’s not just the young women who are looking for a change. The President of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, is fully supporting the women’s fashion movement. In a recent Tweet, Rouhani said that a woman’s virtue should not be judged by her clothing. Rouhani is encouraging women to wear what they want while sending a wider call for modernization in Iran.

If you have been picturing Iran as a desert filled with women in black burqas, you need to take a closer look at modern-day Iran. Of course, there are still traditional conservative women who prefer to cover themselves from head-to-toe but that isn’t the style of the average young woman in Iran.

Iran Moves Forward: The Silent Revolution for Iranian Women
Farnaz Abdoli: Iran’s Top Designer

Iran is a nation of skinny jeans and high heels. The country actually has the highest rate of nose jobs in the world. While many women do still wear some type of head cover, most young urban women aren’t completely covering their hair. Throughout Tehran there has been a surge in hair salons. From mohawks to platinum blonde dye jobs, nothing is off-limits in the capital of Iran.

The new Iranian style was highlighted in the latest issue of Fashionable, Sexy, Haute and Naughty Magazine (FSHN). The fashion magazine shot its first editorial at the end of October. The small landmark piece for the magazine was a major landmark for Iranian fashion. The editorial was shot at the Manouchehri House in Kashan  and Tajrish Bazaar in Tehran.

California-based FSHN photographer Afra Pourdad said that the photo shoot was a reflection the “contradictions and culture of everyday Iran.” The exciting project marks the first international fashion shoot that has been done in Iran since Vogue was there in 1969.

At the forefront of the Iranian fashion world is Farnaz Abdoli. The popular designer has pushed the boundaries of Iranian fashion with her POOSH line. As her styles filter down from Tehran to the rest of Iran, women are increasing moving away from modesty-focused garb and focusing on high fashion.


By Nicci Mende




Fashionable, Sexy, Haute and Naughty Magazine

Trade Arabia

Global Journalist



37 Responses to "Iran Moves Forward: The Silent Revolution for Iranian Women"

  1. Shamas Funch   February 11, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    Farhad & Ali; Then what is it that you guys arguing about. Just leave the women alone and let whoever wants to cover so be it. Who ever does not like to cover so let it be. Everybody satisfy.

  2. ACEI   February 7, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    So much is written and blogged about Iranian women and fashion but very little about their other remarkable achievements. I invite you to read the following blogs written on today’s women of Iran.

  3. mousa   January 22, 2014 at 7:24 pm

    I do not speak much English and do apologize for this.
    Iranian culture because you know that the reality of a growing cultural and religious perspectives.
    Those who are uncomfortable saying Iran is bad. Iran is not the case that you’re using an image 4., Iran is the cradle of civilization. Time from India to Iran, Palestine and the Red Sea to the Arabian was kingship.
    The first book in the world, praised the Iranian people and full human rights that have been implemented.
    Thank you, I’ve read the text. Thanks Salehi of Mazandaran

  4. bondisaurusMarianne   January 15, 2014 at 2:06 pm

    i always thought middle eastern women were always beautiful and elegant.

  5. درب ضد سرقت   January 13, 2014 at 4:57 am

    I am from Iraq and I plan to continue my trip to Turkey. Stay in Turkey need to buy a house in the country. Guidance I need to buy houses. Kindly guide me a little.

  6. Tom Krupica   January 11, 2014 at 5:32 am

    Men’s vanity causes all of this. The man wants his woman covered if she is ugly, so others do not laugh at him for being with an ugly woman. If she is beautiful, his insecurities warrant she cover herself so she is not stolen away.

  7. پارک علم و فناوری   January 11, 2014 at 3:06 am

    This past summer I was a water park saw a Muslim woman covered from head to toe riding the water slides. I give her credit. That had to be uncomfortable. In both cases, the females cloth’s were inappropriate for the conditions.

  8. sohbet   January 10, 2014 at 1:46 pm

    Kadınların özgürlük hakları var, güzelliklerini dışarı çıkarsınlar.

  9. Farhad   January 10, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    Dear Elicua,
    I said the Majority of Iranian women were reluctant to Exhibit their bodies (by wearing revealing outfits) even before the revolution when they Had Every Right to do so. Where in this sentence do I suggest that “women had to cover themselves before the revolution” that you are arguing about?

    You have obviously paid no attention to the words Majority, Throughout the Iranian History, Zoroastrian Costume and Right To Choose in my statement. .

    Also, neither several thousands of Iranian history is limited to the diary of your dad and your female family members, nor did your female family members represent all Iranian women before the revolution. It is a well-known fact that Iranians, both men and women, were way more religious in every aspect (apart from some small areas in Tehran and in couple of other cities perhaps), before the revolution and that most of them only lost interest in religion, (including hijab) once they achieved a theocratic system.

    And by the way, this sort of dress might be a taboo in some villages and Ghom but it is definitely not a taboo in any of the Iranian cities. I have personally visited most parts of Iran and girls in all of them are not less fashionable than those in Tehran if not more.

    • Ali Kimiai   January 10, 2014 at 10:03 pm


      Up to 100 years ago all the women in Europe had to cover themselves from head to toe, only the face could have been revealed, we live in 21st century and Hijab belongs to medieval time. Any women in good mind if given the opportunity would choose to dress freely and to say the majority of Iranian women chose to wear J=Hijab is a fallacy.

  10. Ali Kimiai   January 9, 2014 at 8:34 pm

    This is just a regime propaganda to show that the newly selected President is moderate, the truth is that during his first 100 days term, there were over 300 executions and many of those in Public. You will see more public executions and Human Rights violations on daily basis than few Iranian girls covering themselves fashionably. Only parts of Tehran, women are allowed to dress like the pictures shown here, the rest of the country and main part of Iran this sort of dress is a taboo.
    For those who say here that Hijab is not Islamic and it was the norm in Iran before Islam are exactly right and that was a universal thing all over the world. Even in Europe we had women covering themselves head to toe up until 100 years ago.
    Hijab is a barbaricthing and we should not respect it, it is a sort of Gender Apartheid.

    • Elicua   January 10, 2014 at 4:54 am

      we did not have to cover ourselves before the revolution. my father was part of the revolution when they overthrew the shah, and before this not one of my female family members wore a head scarf in iran. they wore whatever they wanted to, obviously what they wanted to wear was much more modest. But no, Hijab was NOT the norm in iran before the revolution so i suggest you do your research.

  11. Real Lapalme   January 9, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    The veil predates Islam, was already a Persian custom, and did not become part of Sharia until Persia became Muslim. It is one of the many tribal traditions that brought innovations to sharia, never practiced by the Prophet (saws). He hung a curtain in his house so they could have privacy. Please forgive any mistakes.

  12. Farhad   January 9, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    If you do some research on the subject, you will realize that Iranian women always covered themselves throughout the history. The fact that revealing costume has never been part of Iranian fashion and culture can be easily proved by going to some well known museums around the world and checking out zuresterian women’s outfit in the old times. What has made an Iranian woman rebellious and eager to expose her body nowadays is the counter effect or the enforcement of certain laws depriving them from their right to choose. Otherwise, the vast majority of Iranian women were reluctant to exhibit their body when they had every right to do so before the revolution.

  13. Farhad   January 9, 2014 at 1:53 pm

    If you do some research on the subject you will realize that Iranian women always covered themselves throughout the history. The fact that revealing outfit has never been part of Iranian fashion and culture, can be easily proved by going to some well known museums around the world and checking out Zuresterian women’s dress in the old times. What has made an Iranian woman rebellious and eager to expose her body nowadays is the counter-effect of the enforcement of certain laws depriving them from their right to choose. Otherwise, even before the revolution, the vast majority of Iranian women were reluctant to expose their bodies even though they were free to do so.

  14. Robert   January 9, 2014 at 9:21 am

    Independence is the right of every person but

  15. Shahram   January 8, 2014 at 4:59 pm

    You call this fashion?! You should have seen Tehran during before the revolution… THAT was fashion… These women dress like scarecrows…

  16. Hazel   January 8, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    I agree most of the comments for Iranian women,especially when you live in Europe, you can distinguish women from Iran,they are very ambitious for education and very elegant…

  17. sarah   January 7, 2014 at 11:49 am

    It seems not much research has gone into this piece before being written. FYI:
    1. A modern woman may dress in any way she desires, a scarcely clad woman does not necessarily imply modernity, it is simply choice. Choice is what Iranian women have been deprived of for the past 33 years, following the Islamic Revolution, prior to that the majority of urban Iranian women dressed in whatever they wanted it, being it Parisian fashion, traditional national costumes or the Islamic veil. 3. with the exception of some tribal Arab women in the southern part of Iran, Iranian women rarely covered their faces, the borqua was not worn in Iran it was worn in Afghanistan after the Taliban took over. Finally, Iranian women were always known for their taste in fashion and had a particular style, it is neither new nor the so called “modern women” who is introducing it to society in Iran. There is so much more to Iranian women than the way they dress. For example there are 60% female university students as there are males and as many doctors, lawyer, entrepreneurs and scientists, it is a real shame why we hardly ever see an article written on those women who form a remarkable portion of the Iranian society.

    • Joel   January 7, 2014 at 12:05 pm

      ^^ this.

    • that_guy?   January 8, 2014 at 11:45 am

      I don’t want to be that guy but…

      there’s no 2nd bullet.

      • laughinguncontrollably   January 8, 2014 at 12:17 pm

        omg. Why??? you’re hilarious! …..and that guy.

  18. hasan   January 7, 2014 at 8:38 am

    it is obvious that islamic republic of iran is unable to solve the problems of women during past 35 years . it is due to islamic regulation which is from 1400 years ago and they could not apply to these modern years

  19. Sanaz   January 7, 2014 at 7:59 am

    Fashion trends are interesting and the change is admirable; however, it is more on a superficial level. As an Iranian woman, I would say what is critical to change in Iran is freedom of speech for all, job availability for all, spending the wealth of the country for improving the lives of the public, etc. I dream of the day that individuals can live the life they want ( whether they want to be conservative or liberal, westernized or not) in Iran without being threatened for their lives.

  20. Alyssa   January 6, 2014 at 2:10 pm

    I feel so sorry for those beautiful women that they have to live like this and be scared for their life!!!

  21. sahar   January 6, 2014 at 6:00 am

    As a 37 year old woman I have not any choice, If I dont cover my head and body I wuold be kill. But no one in the world understand it and other people around the world say that ooooooh young girls are diffrent, No , we always wear same these picturs if we can, and in our houses we dont cover our head and wear normally, take a look to iranian people facebook and discover something about iran.

  22. Tim tadayon   January 5, 2014 at 2:06 pm

    Women in general are the ones with much more to loose than men if fundamentalist uneducated mullahs have their way. Women are also at the forefront of pushing the boundaried because the men in Iran have become so emasculated that they don’t even fight for their own rights anymore… The men are not the old man they used to be so the women have to take over and try to make a statement weather through fashion entertainment or any other superficial means. Most of the oppression the product of brainwashing.. More power to the woman of Iran and the world. If women are oppressed they are easier to control, and that’s where religion comes in.

  23. sixpillarstopersia   January 5, 2014 at 9:08 am

    When was this written? The first shoot since Vogue 69 was almost six months ago.

  24. Branko   January 5, 2014 at 2:33 am

    Of course an individual should be judged by the qualities they have developed in their lives but human beings are also physical entities so why should they also not show the world how well they stand as physical beings?

  25. faroq   January 4, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    modernism or revolution is not by showing their bodies. if that was then we can buy sexy mini skirts for our sisters and mothers to wear and become modern ? each sex has different clothing based on Islamic law. i dont know what is wrong with girls in iran. why are we interested to see our mothers and sisters go naked ? why dont we focus on their education, undrestanding , ? why we always think that what west so called America does is correct. ? why we think that we are backward. ? dont we have mind ?

    • Ali   January 5, 2014 at 8:01 am

      We have tried your kind of mentality for 35 years and it was a complete social and economic failure. The Islamic law has not guaranteed and honored personal freedom,job opportunities for women and minorities. As a male muslim living in America, I have more freedom than when I was living and working in Iran. Now, you can imaging life for women and minorities under Islamic law.

    • Gct   January 6, 2014 at 7:48 am

      I really think the clothing that many Muslim woman have to wear are reflection of a patriarchal society. I have far too often been outside on scorching hot days and seen a Muslim man in shorts and a t-shirt while the woman is covered for head to toe. This past summer I was a water park saw a Muslim woman covered from head to toe riding the water slides. I give her credit. That had to be uncomfortable. In both cases, the females cloth’s were inappropriate for the conditions. I was very empathetic. I think it’s oppressive when someone is placed in those conditions.

  26. Hamid   December 27, 2013 at 12:59 am

    Mostly True, and agree with majority of article. We have to be respectful to all types of thinking. Those who are covering themselves from head to toes are respectful too.
    But i admit it that the culture is changing and modern style is going to become a dominant style between Iranian Women.

    • Cricket666   January 7, 2014 at 5:13 am

      I wonder how men would feel if they were forced to wear those Burkas, especially in very hot weather. The rules would change immediately.

  27. Mina Wuethrich   December 24, 2013 at 6:27 am

    Iranian woman is and was as ever the most elegant,educated and good looking in central Asia and Middle East

  28. kapanak   November 26, 2013 at 11:22 pm

    Do people in so called west not understand that the head covering is not a choice but it is forced by sstupid mullas and these people kill in the name of hell forsaken religion! sure some women like to cover up but not most! also the only place that in Iran one can find burka is south east corner of the country or some islands in the Persian Gulf!


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