n February 2016, Italian fashion designer Stefano Gabbana posted a picture of a Russian model wearing a hijab on his Instagram account to promote the company’s first collection geared towards Muslim consumers. The collection was created in cooperation with his business partner Domenico Dolce.
The model in this photo is 17-year-old Ilona Bisultanova from the Chechen Republic, a Russian region in the country’s south that is mostly populated by Muslims. It is considered one of the more conservative regions in Russia.
The reaction of some users was ambiguous and even harsh. Here are some of the more expressive comments to the photos published on Gabbana's Instagram account:
"A homosexual publishes your photos on his own page ... Now that's what I call pride!"
"She pumped up her lips and lost her individuality."
Despite the fact that the photo was posted more than a month ago, Russian users continue to discuss the event in social networks and on Bisultanova’s Instagram account:
"Ilona, I saw your picture at the D&G's and was pleasantly surprised that such a big-name designer praised a Vainakh [an ethnic grouping of peoples that includes the Chechens - RBTH] girl so much."
Despite her young age, Bisultanova has already established her own line of Islamic clothing. Her fans often compare her with the famous Russian model and philanthropist Natalia Vodianova.
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