Seems like it was just last season (season six to be exact) that we got our fix of “Iranians on TV”–via the tiny Persian designer, Shirin Askari–on Lifetime‘s Project Runway.
But now, there’s a new Persian girl–who’s also (originally) from Texas like her predecessor–to watch on the show of shows in Fashion, Iranian-American fashion designer: Amy Sarabi.
“My parents came to the United States in 1979.” Sarabi tells us. “They landed in Texas where they attended Graduate School. I spent the majority of my childhood growing up in Plano, Texas: I have an older brother, Shahin and an older sister Shiva.”
The 26 year-old designer’s fascination with fashion emerged early in life: “I was always buying garments and turning them into something else, I have a vivid memory of myself standing in front of my mother’s mirror at about 6 years old putting a nightgown on the wrong way intentionally and wearing it as a little jacket.”
Already placing in the “Best 3” category on her Project Runway scorecard for her unconventional approach to simplicity while remaining authentic to the texture, look, and earthy color pallete of the delicious burlap creation she sent down the runway on Episode 2: The Fashion Farm, Amy’s had a stellar start on Project Runway this season.
And although she may not have enough time to “make things for [herself]” to wear, we’re confident that the “silk organza”-loving, and progressively artful honarmand (artist), Amy Sarabi will in no time be a respected voice in the fashion world, and rule her scene. (As most Persian women seem to naturally do.)
A true Persian girl at heart, Amy admits to us that her own personal style consists of wearing “a lot of black.” Her design aesthetic, however, is far from being monochromatic. It’s rich and kaleidoscopic.
Enjoy Persianesque Magazine’s exclusive interview with the fashion-theory-au-fait and forward-focused, global design-house-in-the-making source: Amy Sarabi.
Who are your designs made for? I would love to see Lady Gaga in something that [I have] made. She is a perfect example of a modern, articulate, and educated woman who understands innovation in fashion.
What time of day do you feel most creative? Early in the morning or very late at night. Lunch time doesn’t inspire me much;)
What is your design process? I always sketch first. I enjoy the freedom and impermanence of sketching with a pencil.
What made you try out for Project Runway?I received an e-mail from Bunim-Murray, which is the production company for the show, inviting me to an audition. Prior to that e-mail I thought that it would be a negative note on my career to be a reality television personality, but when it was in front of me it became hard to resist. As it turns out the potential opportunity and experience was one of the best exercises I have had as a designer.
How stressful is the time in the work-room? Thankfully, there were some really funny personalities to keep it light and playful like Anthony and Jonathon. I treasure the time that i spent in there.
Describe a look you would design for Heidi Klum to wear at her next vow-renewal with Seal. I like the idea of an off-white to represent the union, but with an interesting print on it to make it look more modern and less like the day of her wedding. Plus, it would have to be short.
If you could choose any supermodel to walk the runway with your designs, who would that be?Liya Kebede hands down!
Was there a challenge that you enjoyed the most? Yes, i loved the burlap challenge with the opportunity to use dye and unconventional materials. It was right up my alley…I learned how to dye fabric in that challenge!
How do you feel about doing a men’s line of your own? I do menswear as my day job for Old Navy, and it makes sense to me in that context since menswear is very limited. Who knows though…maybe one day.
If you could sell your designs at any of the major stores tomorrow, who would be your top 3?Modern Appealing Clothing in San Francisco, Stijl in Belgium and Mameg in Los Angeles
Did you have time to make any friends on the show? Yes!! I made a great friend in Jonathon. Ben was also very sweet.
What advice do you have for aspiring Persian designers? In the end, it’s about refining your senses to be able to find your vision, statement, and what you are trying to communicate with your work. And by refining senses, I mean that it’s so important to find your sensitivity to the feel of fabrics, to see it’s movement. The only way to hone those skills is through experience and commitment to your vision. I would still consider myself aspiring, my senses still have a lot to learn.
Has life changed for you since taping the show? It’s really important for me to remember my original goal through the process of this new opportunity. Doing Project Runway is like the little mushroom in Mario Kart 😉 It’s a boost towards the finish line.
Can you speak, read, and/or write in Persian? I can speak Persian.
Are you inspired by your Persian background in your design-work at all? Yes, of course. Iranians have a rich history in motif and pattern. I find that although the specific details are not directly apparent in my work, the harmony and relationships in those motifs are.
What does being Iranian-American mean to you? It means that I am someone who was lucky enough to be able to experience and grow up in two different cultures. The warmth and kindness prevalent in Iranian culture is something that I cherish.
What’s your favorite Persian dish? That’s really hard. I love a lot of dishes from Northern Iran since my Grandparents are from there. Things like torsheh-tareh and baaghaali-ghaatogh, but my favorite traditional Persian dish has to be Fesenjoon.
How do your parents feel about you not becoming a doctor? HAHAHAHA! So funny! My sister fit the bill so she took that burden off my back. My parents saw my interest in art and design at a very young age so they were always nothing but supportive in my career path.
What’s your career goal?I want to have my own line, a large design studio with in-house sample sewers and a showroom. I want stores in New York and Paris made by experimental architects that are as interesting on the outside as the clothes are on the inside. It would be like a mix of MAC (Modern Appealing Clothing) in San Francisco and the Ann Demeulemeester store in Seoul.
What’s next? Finding someone who can help me launch my career at the magnitude that I envision it, a financial partner. Other than that, I will continue to refine my senses and grow as a young Iranian-American woman trying to achieve a life-long goal.