Anousheh Pasha

A Clean Slate

Dress for Success is a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering women to achieve economic independence, a cause which womenswear designer Anousheh Pasha is passionately committed to. After an exciting start in Iran, Anousheh Pasha has come to the United States to start her own fashion line, and her first collection, available now, is a clean slate for both herself and for the women of Dress for Success.

Though it is her first time selling her designs for mainstream consumption, Pasha’s inaugural collection is not her first experience in facing public opinion. According to her biography, Pasha started creating new designs for the traditional garb that religious laws in Iran, her homeland, required women to wear. The manteaus, a sort of shirtdress-outerwear, were typically long and somber, and as a young woman, Pasha wanted something fun and colorful. After a trip to northern Iran, where the women dressed more liberally, Pasha was inspired to start making her own manteau. After designing and sewing several versions of printed and shorter manteaus, she and her sister proudly donned the overcoat on the streets of their hometown. As happy as they were with the new creations, the revolutionary guards were not pleased, and promptly arrested the young designer. This did not stop Pasha from designing; in fact, it fed fuel to the fire, and she continued to design and show her work in underground fashion shows.

After moving to the states and studying at the Academy of Art University, Pasha now lives and works in San Francisco, where she is able to design as she pleases and use the styles and colors she desires, without fear of censorship. Her first collection, “A Piece of Freedom,” is a portfolio of elegant draping and luxurious casual wear. Created with fabrics sourced from San Francisco and Los Angeles, the collection is completely white – a sort of blank canvas onto which her entire career will be projected. For Pasha, the white symbolizes “women who stand up and fight for their rights, security, and equal opportunity… the white color symbolizes this progress and represents the women who are pushing this cause forward.”

While Pasha relishes her creative freedom and is excited for her potential projects and clients, she has not forgotten that there are still women throughout the world that have not been granted the same basic human rights as she has been. “Even today, there are countries and communities where women have no control of their basic needs and desires,” Pasha laments. “For instance, back in Iran, or in most Muslim countries, the governments have full control of what women should wear! This is a violation of the most basic rights of a human being.” Pasha does not just talk the talk; her new collection, “A Piece of Freedom,” will contribute 10% of its profits to Dress for Success. As the feminist mantra of the day goes, “Empowered women empower women,” and Pasha’s collection, inspired by empowered women, does just that.

Text Leah Tassinari
Images Courtesy of Kelly Vorves