Fashion designer Raassi looks back on her years growing up in Tehran and her attempts to grow a business in the United States.
In this unexpectedly wry and winning memoir, the author opens with a turning point in her life: in 1998, when she was 16, she attended a party at a private home where the girls all stripped off their hijabs and long coats to reveal miniskirts and high heels. This wasn’t the first party she’d attended where this was the practice, but it was the first one to be raided by an armed government group. Raassi ended up spending five days in jail and receiving 40 lashes as punishment for flouting dress laws. From that opening incident, she detours back into exploring the contradictions of growing up in a wealthy family in Iran in the 1980s and ’90s, playing with forbidden Barbies, cutting up her mother’s mink coat and her father’s leather chair to make clothes for them, being one of the “mean girls” in high school, and breaking as many rules as possible. Then the author leaps forward to her parents’ insistence that she move to the U.S. after high school. During this time, she went through a series of experiments in fashion and business that ultimately led to her setting up the Dar Be Dar swimwear line. The feisty Raassi is honest about the mistakes she made, the failures she went through, and the complications of making a life in fashion. Chapters about the rise and fall of her Georgetown boutique and her decidedly mixed experience sponsoring the 2010 Miss Universe pageant suggest “the unglamorous sides of the most glamorous industry in the world.”
A rare book equally likely to appeal to fans of Project Runway and students of contemporary Middle Eastern cultural history.