On a dreary winter day in a car showroom on the road to the airport, a side of the Arab world you rarely see was strutting its stuff. Hijabs and Lady Gaga shoes were all over the front row of the Amman Fashion Week,  sponsored by Mercedes Benz, this weekend.
In fact, it was all about the shoes for the fashionable set of the Jordanian capital. Not a flat sole in sight, the ladies of Amman wore a slick of red lipstick to compliment their skyscrapers.
WoMan of the moment was Romanian designer, Alma Panturu.  With only a few wobbles and last minute hitch-ups, her models strutted down the catwalk in daring androgonous style.
The collection was heavy on top hats, cigars and tails and low on girly flourishes. One of her models, cracking her riding whip for the cameras, told us: “It’s the most fun when it’s theatrical like this.”
Also featured was Nadya Hazbunova ’s collection from Bethlehem, including 80s disco ball leggings and giant crucifixes - hardly a nod to the many Muslims of Palestine.
Rana Dabbour, a Jordanian designer, showed the tiniest of hemlines with icing-cake skirts and feather trim. Only a few scraps flew off down the runway as her models marched down in a trance-like state.
On the floor below, a different set of designers were showcasing their wares. Italians, Curiel Couture, were out in force. Sales rep, Veronica, said local ladies were “obsessed” with their mult-colored Joseph-style dreamcoat: “they keep asking ‘can I try it? Can I try it?’” she said.
Hala Kaabar was representing the USAID initiative  to combine traditional cloth making with high fashion:
“We’re trying to bridge the [generation] gap”, she told us. Why? Because the older ladies that create the handiwork are “all going to die out.”
Attendees too were happy to fly in the face of conservative traditions, saying they would wear the see-through cage skirts and leather waistcoats in Amman with no fear. But for most of us, like fashion the world-over, the gap between couture and street will remain despite the best efforts of Jordan’s fashionistas.
Pictures courtesy of Marah Yousef.
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