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Sanaz Shirazi: The Next Great Iranian Designer

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Sanaz Shirazi: The Next Great Iranian Designer
Designers get inspiration from the most unlikely of sources. For Sanaz Shirazi and her eponymous line of jackets, hats, and vests, her home country of Iran and the writings of one of its most famous poets, Hafez, serves as just one of her many inspirations. Her contemporary and romantic take on classic pieces makes her the top Iranian designer to watch for 2008.

Have you always had an interest in fashion? What were you doing before you started your line?
My and my sister Tanaz started the line together. We both have a BA in International Marketing from BI in Norway. Tanaz also did film production at UCLA, while I went to do drama at Central School of Speech and Drama in London.
I was always interested in fashion, and did several fashion related jobs within Public Relations, and creative working. I also interned at Marie Claire magazine. Before we started the line, we were agents for several UK brands in Scandinavia too.

You grew up in India, Iran, and England and currently live in Norway. How has living in those countries influenced your designs?  
The different cultures have certainly had their influences on our designing. The idea behind the collection was initially inspired by our mother's fur coat that she had bought while we lived in India in the 1970s.  The cut and style of the coat inspired us to make the collection of gilets, hats and coats.
We also love to travel and get inspired by the history of the different countries. We wanted to create a collection with influences of our Persian culture and heritage. We feel that our culture and upbringing has affected our work so much and we use our Middle Eastern culture in our designing frequently.

Your line consists mainly of garments made from fur, leather and suede. Why did you choose to use those particular materials? Have you experienced any backlash from animal rights communities?
We wanted to use timeless materials, and not necessarily following the trends.  Fur is classic but modern at the same time, and the styles can be worn all year around. We haven't really gotten [heard from animal rights groups], because we only use fur of rabbit and sheep fur, and never use fur of endangered species.

You’ve mentioned that the poet Hafez is your inspiration. Why is that? How do you translate his words into the story you tell with your line?
Our Grand father used to read Hafez for us when we were children. We still love Hafez and his poems, and always bring his books with us when we travel. Fale Hafez is something I love. The embroideries used in the poems and books of Hafez are used in making our logo and also in making the latest styles.

How would you describe the Sanaz Shirazi girl? In other words, what kinds of girl are you designing for?
The Sanaz Shirazi girl is a natural beauty, down to earth, classy but not pretentious. She is graceful, and has an unaffected beauty. She does not follow the crowd but stands out, because she is confident and comfortable with herself. A Sanaz Shirazi girl is not the type to torture her feet in four-inch heels, she wears and does whatever that makes her happy, which  makes her even more beautiful. She is well traveled and loves to read books, arts, and music.

What has been the biggest and most important lesson you've learned in the process of starting and establishing your company?
From the outside it may all look very glamorous, but it is so much hard work. The traveling can seem fun but it's all business and not always fun, but as we love our job we wouldn’t have it any other way.  I have learned to never overspend, and to be more careful with the expenses. We have also learned to be much more patient, and to collaborate with other talented people. I truly believe that you can be whatever you want to be if you work hard at it.

Who are some of your favourite fashion designers?
I like designs by Chloe and Paul and Joe. I love designers that tell a story with their creations.  I also love vintage shopping.

Where can people shop for your designs?
We sell to shops all over the world, mainly in North America, Middle East and Europe. The closest shop near you would be Tracey Ross on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. You can visit our website www.sanazshirazi.com for the shops nearest you.

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