Miss Sarajevo: Pride of Bosnian women

Even in the middle of a war, a Bosnian woman holds her head high and never gives up her beauty.

The photo of a woman from Sarajevo, Meliha Varešanović, became a sensation in Life magazine, the Sunday Times, in her purple-blue dress with floral pattern and high heels next to Bosnian soldier and shelter with sandbags. Her head held high circled around the world, while she was just trying to survive another day in besieged Sarajevo.

Although Meliha didn’t know she was ever even photographed, her picture appeared in the magazine Cracked’s editorial of “the most courageous women, rebels in history”.

“I was walking. But at one point, the shell fell on the city and I stopped a little, but then again I decided to continue to walk dignified and proud. However, I did not notice that something happened. Later I learned that the photographer Tom Stoddart, who was in the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, took a picture of me. He was there, he came across and decided to make the photo that traveled around the whole world, for which I did not know for a long time.” said Meliha for Anadolu Agency.

Stoddart later, when the photography of Meliha Varešanović became popular, tells how he was scared of the shooting and he lay down in the shelter with sandbags. “She walked proudly, head held high and had lipstick, high heels, and colorful dress. I managed to make three or four recording with his Leica as it passed by me, ” Stoddart explained after.

This photograph is timeless, and pride and defiance of Bosnia and Bosnian women can not be forgotten.

A Balkan region is known for its beautiful women, but Bosnian women have a divine beauty known across the world. Even in a wartime – when electricity was supplied sporadically and where running water was a serious luxury, where being clean simply was not that easy – Bosnian women refused to be brought down to a lower standard of life and give up on their elegance.

My message was simple – you will not obey us. And I persisted in it.

Fashion and beauty were a matter of pride and grew into a symbol of resistance to the bloody siege. In the wartime theaters, concerts, ballet, and fashion shows were a symbol of resistance – individual defense mechanism, proof that people did not give up. Behind such inspiring project is also a Bosnian fashion designer Amna Kunovac-Zekić and photographer Dejan Vekić.

Amna Kunovac – Zekić is a fashion designer and costume designer. In a wartime in Sarajevo, she created and produced clothing under brand Fashion made in Sarajevo. On the streets of the besieged Sarajevo, she created an ad campaign with models from modeling agency Front. It was a bunt, a great will to create something in spite of the horrible destruction. Her campaigns are full of incompatible things: fashion and war, beauty and horror, joy and fear, creation and destruction, life and death.




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