Russian Spy Babe Will Now Dress You for a 'Backwater Village'

If her personal style is anything to go by, expect former Russian spy Anna Chapman's fashion label to feature lots of leather, form-fitting dresses and of cleavage. Chapman the red-haired femme fatale at the center of a Russian spy ring broken up in 2010 launched on Thursday her very own clothing line, the latest in a series of publicity stunts since she returned to Russia after being deported from the United States.

So far images of the clothing haven't been released, but Chapman appears to be riffing somewhat on her past as a spy and marketing the clothes as highly versatile. "She really wanted to make clothes that you could wear anywhere, from a big city to a backwater village," said a spokesman for the bank where she is currently employed. While Chapman serves as the face of the brand, she did not design the line herself. Instead, she hired students from Russian fashion colleges.

Chapman was one of ten Russian sleeper agents in the United States busted in 2010. The spy ring became something of an international laughing stock, and the incompetent spies were deported back to their motherland.

It is not the first time the sultry spy has dabbled in fashion. In 2011, after visiting a space research center, she suggested that she would design outfits for Russian cosmonauts.

Sometimes, when she's not designing clothes, she's taking her them off, like she did for Maxim magazine in 2010. But Chapman isn't just a spy turned sexpot. She currently serves as a board member of a Russian bank, and hedging her bets, she will not be leaving her job as she enters the world of fashion. (Coincidentally, as the Russian news service RIA Novosti points out that the acronym for her bank -- Fondservisbank -- is the same as the spy agency that she has worked for -- the Federal Security Service, or, in the Russian abbreviation, the "FSB.") For a spy burned by the FBI, she's managed to put together a remarkable comeback.

In 2011, President Vladimir Putin supposedly asked Chapman to serve as a candidate for the Russian parliament from her home city of Volgograd. She also had her own TV show, became an editor of a small venture capital newspaper, and in in 2011 trademarked her name to become a producer of vodka and perfume. She made the news again in the summer of 2013, when she jokingly tweeted about proposing to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

As she takes over the catwalk, let's just hope there is something that works out for her -- and all that FSB training doesn't go to waste.



Survey Says: Muslim Women, Cover Your Hair, Not Your Faces

A new report by the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research has shed some light on how Muslim women should cover up. Looking at surveys from seven predominately Muslim countries the researchers found that most respondents thought women should bare their faces, but cover their hair -- completely.

The study centered on Tunisia, but included survey results from Turkey, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Pakistan, and Egypt. While researchers investigated public perception of several hot-button issues including gender relations, politics, and religious tolerance, one of their more interesting findings had to do with veiling.

Participants were presented with six images of variously veiled women (pictured above) and asked "Which one of these women is dressed most appropriately for public places?"

Most respondents picked woman #4, whose conservative hijab covers her hair and ears but not her face. Saudis were the primary outlier, preferring option #2, a niqab that covers all but a woman's eyes. But some of the results are counterintuitive to common veiling practices. For instance, while option #3 -- a scarf that covers all but the face -- is heavily promoted by religious authorities and conservatives in Lebanon, the majority of Lebanese respondents favored no head covering at all (option #6).

The researchers also found that Tunisians were the most supportive of women dressing as they wish, compared to 52 percent of Turks, 49 percent of Lebanese, 47 percent of Saudis, 24 percent of Iraqis, 22 percent of Pakistanis, and 14 percent of Egyptians.

The study's authors argue that these findings reflect "a country's orientations toward liberal values as well as the level of freedom people enjoy. In Lebanon, Tunisia, and Turkey, where people tend to be less conservative than the other four countries, the preferable style for women also tend to be much less conservative than the other four countries."

Pew Research Center