Iranian Runway Show Takes Over Top of LA’s Tallest Building

By Fred Parvaneh

The non-profit Farhang Foundation presented its first Iranian Cultural Runway show on top of Los Angeles’s tallest building on February 10th.

A model in one of the show pieces by designer Shahla Dorriz

Presented by comedian Melissa Shoshani and with music by DJ Arin, the sold-out event witnessed the transformation of the 70th floor of the US Bank Tower known as OUE Skyspace LA into a fashion runway.

The show’s theme revolved around Persian poetry and architecture, and featured gowns by Iranian designers Shahla Dorriz, Jila Saberi (Jila Atelier) and her partner, architect and sculptor, Ali Kourehchian.

Front person for “Night Talk,” Soraya Sebghati at the Iranian Cultural Runway

Soraya Sebghati, the lead singer of the alternative rock band “Night Talk” and an attendee at the event said: “I liked that a lot of the pieces mixed traditional Persian design with modern silhouettes. The playlist for the runway show also was an example of that, mixing older Persian music with songs by newer artists like Sevdaliza.”

Beverly Hills-based couturier Shahla Dorriz presented gowns inspired by Iranian fashion and calligraphy. Dorriz is best known for being the first designer to introduce poetry from Hafez, Rumi and Khayyam to clothing. High-profile celebrities and public figures like Farah Fawcett, Natalie Cole, Googoosh and Hillary Clinton have all worn Dorriz’s designs.

Saberi and Kourehchian’s collection exhibited a fusion of Iranian architecture and fashion. Saberi’s garments were based on Kourehchian’s architectural drawings of famous Iranian landmarks such as the Azadi (formerly known as Shahyad) monument. Kourehchian also designed bronze masks to accompany each of Saberi’s 15 garments. The mask represented different Persian motifs, ranging from the ubiquitous paisley to emblems seen during and after the Iranian Revolution.

Couturier to the stars Shahla Dorriz

In the press release for the event, Farhang Foundation’s Executive Director, Alireza Ardekani explained the selection process for the show.

“Farhang Foundation put out a call to designers around the world who are inspired by Iran,” he said in the press release. “We had a wide range of styles and designs to select from, and Jila Saberi’s work stood out to us all.”

“It was an easy decision to include her as one of the showcased designers for this year. Her originality, creativity and innovative presentation along with the beautiful masks by Ali Kourechian really impressed us.”

“Jila Atelier is the perfect showcase of both Persian fashion and architecture uniting together in celebration of Iranian culture as a whole.”

Kayhan London had a chance to speak to Jila Saberi and Ali Kourehchian after their show.

How did the idea of designing garments based on Iranian architecture come about? Do you know of any other Iranian designer working on a similar line?

Jila: A few years ago in New York City, Ali had a sculpture exhibition based on geometry and mathematics as it relates to Persian architecture. The concept was well received, and when Farhang approached us we thought it may be an interesting and novel idea to mix fashion with architecture.

The garments shown in this show are non-wearable art pieces. Ali and I are now partners in our company “Jila Atelier” which has two fashion lines, Haute Couture and Ready-To-Wear. Based on the success of this show, we may develop a new clothing line that mixes Persian fashion designs with Persian architecture. I am not aware of any other Iranian designer working on a similar line.

What was the reaction of the audience to your collection and given the opportunity will you do a similar show again?

Ali: We were extremely pleased with the audience’s reaction. What stood out in our minds was how so many of the attendees spoke to us after show and said how impressed they were with the collection. They were particularly pleased to recognize the monuments by watching the runway show. We are delighted to see our yearlong labor come to fruition and we will be happy to do it again. Jila and I are always on the lookout for new and exciting projects.

The Iranian Cultural Runway received favorable reviews and was listed by KCRW’s Design & Architecture program as one of the “Top 5 Design Things To Do” in Los Angeles.

L.A.’s OUE Skyspace