Iraq’s Legendary Fashion House Revived

By Wassim Bassem for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News. 

Models dressed in clothes reminiscent of Iraq’s multicultural past walked among the imposing statues at the Iraqi Museum in an impressive show in July that celebrated the liberation of Mosul, as the Iraqi House of Fashion bolstered its cultural presence and shrugged off the low profile it has held since 2003.

Founded in 1970 with the aim of conserving ancient Iraqi culture, the Iraqi House of Fashion started as a financially independent legal entity. However, the Iraqi House of Fashion Law was passed in 1985 with the help of the Iraqi Ministry of Culture and Media to help the fashion organization receive governmental support.

This support resulted in the building of a luxurious palace, considered to be one of the country’s most beautiful architectural monuments, on Palestine Street in eastern Baghdad.

But the good times for the fashion house came to an end in 2003 due to the US invasion of Iraq and the lack of security that swept through the country. The house was looted, its founder and manager had to retire and leave the country and the splendid palace was abandoned and slowly fell into ruin.

Although the Iraqi House of Fashion has made a comeback in the last few years, the present conservative environment makes it difficult for the organization to return to its days of glory.

In a country still suffering from war and terrorism, organizers of fashion shows remain fearful. For instance, Karar Nushy, a fashion designer whose work is well-known in the industry, was murdered July 4. The case remains unsolved.

“Organizers of such cultural events are still being threatened by those who consider it a Western tradition that could corrupt society,” Saif al-Obeidi, designer and technical manager for Iraqi House of Fashion, told Al-Monitor.

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