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Oil-Fashion and Modernization: A Theory and History of Dress in Iran, 1941-1979

Nargess Khodabakhshi
Dissertationsstipendiatin an der Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien | Abschluss-Stipendium des Doktoratszentrums 2018|19


This dissertation positions itself in fashion studies' discourse and investigates the dress and fashion in Iran from a historical perspective. With a multidisciplinary approach, it focuses on the years 1941-1979, during which the large oil revenues supported the modernization in Iran. The Pahlavi modernization policies enforced comprehensive agricultural, industrial and economic reforms that accelerated internal migration and social mobility. Following these changes, the rapid urbanization transformed fashion and dress practices like the consumption culture within Iranian society. This dissertation analyzes how fashion's official narrative as a symbol of modernity contributed to the last Iranian monarchy's national and international status. It also examines the informal fashion narratives which included mixed dress practices in a junction of cultural, religious and political debates. This thesis argues that studying dress and fashion in Middle Eastern countries such as Iran should rely on a deep understanding of the local culture and history to advance the global fashion discourse beyond Eurocentrism.


Nargess Khodabakhshi is a researcher in fashion and dress studies at the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna. She holds a bachelor's degree in Communication Design from University of Tehran and a master's degree in Fine and Studio Arts from the Academy of Fine Arts. In 2014, she joined the doctoral program at the Institute for Education in the Arts. Her main research areas are Middle Eastern Fashions, Fashion Ethnography, and Cultural Studies, focusing on addressing questions about the History of Fashion in Iran and its connections to the Non-Western Fashions Discourse. Currently, she is a lecturer in Fashion Theory and History at the Institute for Education in the Arts (Vienna) and the Institute of Space and Design (Linz).