by Joean “Iman” Montayre
Niloofar “Maryam” Avesta is a polyglot who can speak at least 4 foreign languages, and has a lot to share about Persian fashion and culture.
“When I talk about the Iranian culture, I actually tend to demonstrate the historical culture of it, not the culture of Iran in the 21st Century. I’d like to show the reality of Iran’s culture (of the past), not the one being seen these days.
Dignity and being covered have always been the priority for the people of the high level of society such as in the Achaemenian era.”
If you’ve heard of Anafeh Mansouri, Behnaz Sarafour, Bijan, Nima Behnoud, Anar Design, and Naghmeh Kiumarsi, you must know that these are fashion designers of Iranian roots. What about Bob Mackie? Sure, he was not Iranian but his design partner, Ray Aghayan, was. The latter was a famous costume designer in the US for Hollywood stars back in the 1970s. Mind you, there are many others like Paria Farzaneh, Tala Raassi, or Tara Zadeh in the fashion scenes that are not frequently mentioned. These are just some of the famous names that come up when we speak about Iranian fashion or fashion in Iran.
Despite the crackdown on fashion since the Islamic Revolution, and for decades-long doing behind closed doors, there is no stopping the creativity of Iranian designers and creatives. Since 2014, when the religious authorities of their country announced that there was no evident abhorrence for fashion and modelling within the religious contexts, several fashion shows have been happening within Iran. We are not referring to about 10 or 20 fashion shows and events, we are talking about hundreds!
Now, we will meet yet another emerging fashion designer among them. Meet Nilofar Avesta. The 33-year-old graphic designer-turned-fashion designer from Tehran is developing a namesake brand “AVESTA” which meant “acknowledge” in the old Persian language.
Niloofar (centre) in Bologna, Italy; with the models wearing her designs
After graduating and working as a Graphic designer for a year, Niloofar decided to go for a challenge. Therefore, she took up Italian language classes and studied fashion at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna, Italy, where she completed a 3- year course from 2014- 2017. She was so fluent in Italian that when she was interviewed at the immigration, they thought she was living in Italy for a long time. And you can add German, Turkic, and English to the list.
She started her career in the Italian fashion scene, working with Italian craftsmen for some time, but when the pandemic hit, she felt the need to go back to Tehran.
Back in her hometown, she sees to it that she brings home her experiences in Italy. She wants to share what she learned from Italian fashion schools by translating fashion books from Italian to Farsi. She thought those books are essential for fashion designers in Iran. She also wants to contribute to the fashion culture of Iran by becoming an example in exploring the global audience by bringing forward their arts and fashion sense.
Reversible coat by Niloofar Avesta
Niloofar employs quality craftsmanship, clean structured lines, top-grade fabrics and exceptional fit- all that she learned and adopted from Italian fashion. She is also a firm believer in Sustainable fashion by creating functional designs that can be worn in multiple ways. She believes that functional designs can help lessen clothing purchases for people who want to have different look every time.
Another highlight of her branding is the use of organic Iranian looms that trace back to ancient Persia, in the hope to support and boost the local textile industry. And just like her ability to speak many languages, her pieces also evoke that sense of style that can take any form.