More than 20 veiled Chechen models paced the catwalk in a Dubai palace on Saturday evening, clad in silk and carefully embroidered muslin dresses that covered them from head to toe but also managed to outline their figures.
The show culminated in a display of wedding dresses.
Organized by the Firdaws (paradise in Arabic) fashion house, launched by Kadyrova three years ago, it was the first such show for the label outside Chechnya.
“With their beautiful eyes and their slender figures, they actually look like houris,” said Omar, a Palestinian working at the show, referring to the virgin angels who, according to the Koran, await faithful Muslims in the afterlife.
“But our young women who wear revealing tops and short skirts, will they agree to dress like this?” he asked.
Firdaws was founded by Kadyrova in 2009 “to lead Chechen women towards a new way of life, full of harmony and serenity, based on the national Islamic traditions,” according to a statement by the show's organizers.
“Dubai was chosen for the event because of the good relations between the two countries and between the Kadyrovs and the ruling family” in the emirate, said Zeina Habib, with the public relations agency who helped organize the show.
Dubai is considered “a fashion hub as well as being an Islamic country,” she added.
“My designs are inspired by natural beauty and the grace of Arab women, to whom I dedicate my collection,” Kadyrova said, adding that she hoped the show in Dubai would be “the first step towards the organisation of many others in the region.”
Kadyrova is married to the Kremlin-backed strongman Ramzan Kadyrov, a 35-year-old former Chechen rebel who took power in 2004 and has described Islamic law as superior “to the laws of the Russian federation.”
A father of seven, Kadyrov has sought to impose Islamic values by encouraging women to wear headscarves and men to take multiple wives, even though traditions like polygamy are in conflict with Russian law.