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In The Streets Of Iran, A Fashion Shoot Bursting With Color

Posted: November 17, 2013

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Iran, a notoriously closed society, was the setting for a high-fashion magazine shoot, published in California-based FSHN. It may have been the first such fashion shoot in Iran for an international magazine since 1969. Host Rachel Martin speaks to the photographer, Afra Pourdad.

At one point, a man with a cart of tomatoes walked by:

At one point, a man with a cart of tomatoes walked by: "Oh, you took a picture of me!" he said to Pourdad. "I want you to take another picture!" He went back and stood next to the model.

Afra Pourdad photographs her model, Shabnam Molavi. Iran is

Afra Pourdad photographs her model, Shabnam Molavi. Iran is "so colorful," Pourdad says.

Afra Pourdad photographs Shabnam Molavi in a crowded bazaar.

Afra Pourdad photographs Shabnam Molavi in a crowded bazaar.

A photo from Pourdad's shoot that was featured in FSHN Magazine.

A photo from Pourdad's shoot that was featured in FSHN Magazine.

"When I walked into [the] bazaar, I was very conscious of what I was doing and where I was doing it," Pourdad says. "But then after a few minutes, I felt like, I'm doing this."

Pourdad took photos of Molavi wearing colorful outfits in public spaces.

Pourdad took photos of Molavi wearing colorful outfits in public spaces.

California-based magazine FSHN ran an Iran photo shoot in its 2013 couture issue. The photographer was Afra Pourdad; the model was Shabnam Molavi.

California-based magazine FSHN ran an Iran photo shoot in its 2013 couture issue. The photographer was Afra Pourdad; the model was Shabnam Molavi.

A photo that was featured in FSHN Magazine's 2013 couture issue.

A photo that was featured in FSHN Magazine's 2013 couture issue.

California-based magazine FSHN ran an Iran photo shoot in its 2013 couture issue.

California-based magazine FSHN ran an Iran photo shoot in its 2013 couture issue.

A photo that was featured in FSHN Magazine's 2013 couture issue.

A photo that was featured in FSHN Magazine's 2013 couture issue.

Iran is a notoriously closed society, so this was an unusual milestone: It was recently the setting for a high-fashion magazine shoot, published in California-based magazine FSHN.

Iranian-Canadian photographer Afra Pourdad took photos of model Shabnam Molavi posing in public spaces — in bazaars, on the streets. Molavi's head is covered, but she's not wearing abaya, the long, traditional black robe — she's wearing really colorful outfits. She stands out in the crowds.

"I had to explain this all the time to people here, that, you know, it's not like that," Pourdad says of Iran. "It's so much prettier, and it's so colorful. It was just a very personal project for me. That I wanted to have something to show to people."

She didn't get permission from the Iranian government to take the photos — taking photos like this isn't against the law, she says — but she was a little apprehensive at first. And it may have been the first such fashion shoot in Iran for an international magazine since Vogue in 1969.

"When I walked into bazaar, I was very conscious about what I'm doing and where I'm doing it," she says. "But then after a few minutes, I felt like: I'm doing this and this is the opportunity, so I can't really be too scared or be fearful of what I want to do."

For one of the shoots, Pourdad put the model right in the middle of an alley in a bazaar. At one point, an old man with a cart of tomatoes walked by, and looked right into the camera. She shot the photo.

"As he came closer to me, he said, 'Oh, you took a picture of me! I want you to take another picture!' And then he went back and stood right beside her, and the model was laughing, and I was laughing."

After that, Pourdad says she realized that she could communicate with people passing by. "The response that I got from them was amazing. I mean, I didn't have anybody who says no to it."

More of Pourdad's photos from Iran can be found on her website, AfrasCorner.com.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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