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Shia Chic: Meet The Qom Tailor Who Dresses Iran's Clerics

Abolfazl Arabpour, 86, has been sizing up all the high dignitaries of the Iranian clergy for half a century.

Former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami voting in Tehran in 2009
Former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami voting in Tehran in 2009
Louis Imbert

QOM — Abolfazl Arabpour, a tailor from this Iranian holy city, is simply the best in his field. At 86 years old, he has been dressing the cream of the Shia clergy for 50 years, supplying everything, "even the boxer shorts."

Ahead of February's elections for Iran's parliament and the so-called Assembly of Experts — a body of 88 theologians in charge of appointing the Supreme Leader — Arabpour and his five sons' workshop was feeling Qom's sacred bustle up close. The legendary tailor knows many of these public representatives: has touched them, sized them up, measured them from head to toe, always with the endless respect that they are due.

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Mariateresa Fichele

"Dottoré, I know you’re going to say I’m superstitious and strange, you always give rational answers ... but I have to ask you a question: Is it true that ever since our stadium was renamed after Maradona, Napoli doesn't win at home anymore?"

"So?"

"Could it be that Saint Paul, to whom the stadium was initially dedicated, got offended and is making us lose now?"

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