Baghdad ditches gloom for glamour, hosting fashion show

BAGHDAD (AFP) - Leggy models in striking designer clothes strutted down a catwalk in front of Iraq's high society Friday for the first edition of the Baghdad Fashion Show.

"This is an attempt, within the current political and security situation to support the government and the people," Iraqi designer and organiser Sinan Kamel said.

"The most important message we address to the world today is that Iraq is still alive," the 35-year-old said at the launch of the glitzy event at Baghdad's Royal Tulip hotel.

The hotel is still best known to Iraqis as the Rasheed, an imposing structure which was built under Saddam Hussein and stands on the edge of the fortified Green Zone in central Baghdad.

Around 500 people turned out in their best attire to watch 16 young Iraqi women model collections by six home-grown fashion designers as an oriental beat shook the walls of the refurbished gala hall.

Many of the creations were variations on traditional Arab themes, including a collection exploring the chequered keffiyeh pattern in modern urban designs that wowed the crowd.

"We don't see things like this often. It's my first fashion show, it's a good feeling," said Mohamed al-Hamdani, a young Baghdad lawyer sporting a hipster undercut and beard, tights jeans and navy blue blazer with a pocket square.

Organisers and guests alike said the fashion show, the biggest Baghdad has seen in years, was a welcome distraction from the conflict raging elsewhere in the country.

On Friday, thousands of Iraqi soldiers, policemen and militia fighters battled militant from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria group in Tikrit, 160km north of Baghdad.

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