Iranian operation cracks down on several models breaking immodesty laws

At least eight people have been arrested in Iran as a part of Spider II, an government operation targeting photos of women with uncovered hair – a law that has been in effect for more than three decades.  However, as Al Arabiya reports, many Iranian women have used the advent of social media to protest the law in a new way, by posting selfies of themselves uncovered.

Behpooshi was the first licensed modelling agency in Iran |  Source

Behpooshi was the first licensed modelling agency in Iran | Source

Al Jazeera reported:

Tehran police chief General Hossein Sajedinia in April announced his department had deployed 7,000 male and female officers for a new plain clothes division - the largest such undercover assignment in memory - to enforce the government-mandated Islamic dress code.

Iran Human Rights reported:

At the end of the interrogation sessions, which ranged in duration from a few days to several weeks, some victims were released after pledging to end whichever activities they had been summoned for while others were kept in detention.
“Nobody wants to talk about these interrogations and arrests. We’re all in shock,” one model who was interrogated during the latest crackdown told the Campaign. “The officials told us themselves that this is a big operation and they are in the process of gathering information and identifying individuals.”
“After someone was taken in for questioning the interrogators would get the names of other models and photographers and summon them as well,” added the source, who asked to remain anonymous.

Following a religious edict by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei permitting modelling, Iran’s fashion industry has been booming for the past two years under heavy regulation. Authorities issue licenses and ID cards to models to participate in public runway shows and other events. But independent models not working with licensed agencies (as is normal in other markets, such as Kuala Lumpur) rely heavily on Instagram, which is legal and accessible in Iran. Instagram has been the main source Spider II operatives have been monitoring.

Campaign image from designer  Pooshema

Campaign image from designer Pooshema

Model wearing a manteaux and scarf. Photo by Afra Pourdad/Afra's Corner |  Source

Model wearing a manteaux and scarf. Photo by Afra Pourdad/Afra's Corner | Source

Of course, Instagram is vital for any model’s career. This limits the Iranian industry to a very small set of workers who do modesty-fashion work, but not any other work.Modesty-fashion is abundant in Kuala Lumpur, for example, but there's regular work there too (the law permits it), and most models will do both.

Models are essential to an industry flourishing, whether by promoting local workers or by bringing top models in from abroad. If Iran does want to be a part of the fashion industry, it's going to have to figure out how to deal with an industry that necessitates a very mobile, global workforce.

Sharif Razavi, founder of the first modelling agency in Iran, Behpooshi, spoke to Les Perisiennes in September 2015 before Spider II crackdown began: 

I want to develop an educational method for the Muslim countries, we keep the moral rules while developing our activities. These two are not incompatible! I would like to open other offices in new cities in Iran, and i would like Iranian models collaborate with international brands but that, I do not still know if it is possible yet. 

Saudi Arabia: Fighting immodesty in a developing retail hotspot

Saudi Arabia has increasing conservative regulations around runway shows, and events and images where models may be seen. Conversely, is one of the most important developing fashion retail markets.


The Economist reports:

But officials are fighting a losing battle: Saudis will continue to strut their stuff on or off the catwalk. The kingdom comes 17th in this year’s Global Retail Development Index, a ranking of the hottest developing markets by AT Kearney, a consultancy. Flashy shoes, sunglasses and handbags are especially popular since these are the bits women can show off in public. Sales of racy lingerie, which is invisible under an abaya, are sizzling.
Men were banned from shows with female models, as were cameras. Much of what women modelled there were designer abayas. With or without the catwalk, this is a growing industry: the Wahhabi-approved garb comes in ever more designs, materials and bright colours to suit every occasion. 

Read the full article here.

How do such laws and customs effect models as workers? Have you worked in Saudia Arabia? Would you?

Aamito's very successful first show season

Few of us may have recognized Aamito Lagum as she walked Bottega Veneta, Giles, Paul Smith, J.Mendel, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Rag & Bone, Lacoste, The Row this Fashion Month. She is the winner of the first cycle of Africa's Next Top Model, the limited viewership of which has been a boon to Aamito - unlike her American counterparts suffering from the "Top Model curse."

As TBM wrote in 2013 as the show premiered,

Being cast on a Top Model show is almost always a death sentence to a modelling career. But with a limited audience outside of Africa, perhaps this won't mean instant overexposure for the contestants.
Aamito Lagum |  DNA Models

Aamito Lagum | DNA Models