HERE ARE EXAMPLES OF TROPICAL PRINTS MY TEAM AND I CREATED FOR VARIOUS CLIENTS AT FULL DECK COLLECTIVE IN BROOKLYN, NY. I SERVED AS CREATIVE DIRECTOR & FOUNDER. ALL ILLUSTRATIONS BY PARISA PARNIAN.
APPLICATIONS FOR PRINTS: SWIMWEAR, SLEEPWEAR, READY-TO-WEAR
CLIENTS: JCREW, NAUTICA, AEROPOSTALE, OLD NAVY, JIMMY 'Z, PRIVATE LABEL SWIM
HERE ARE EXAMPLES OF NOVELTY PRINTS MY TEAM AND I CREATED FOR VARIOUS CLIENTS AT FULL DECK COLLECTIVE IN BROOKLYN, NY. I SERVED AS CREATIVE DIRECTOR & FOUNDER. ALL ILLUSTRATIONS BY PARISA PARNIAN.
APPLICATIONS FOR PRINTS: SWIMWEAR, SLEEPWEAR, STATIONARY
OLD NAVY, AEROPOSTALE, JCREW, JIMMY 'Z, SPEEDO, PRIVATE LABEL SLEEPWEAR
HERE ARE EXAMPLES OF MEN'S SWIM PRINTS MY TEAM AND I CREATED FOR VARIOUS CLIENTS AT FULL DECK COLLECTIVE IN BROOKLYN, NY. I SERVED AS CREATIVE DIRECTOR & FOUNDER. ALL ILLUSTRATIONS BY PARISA PARNIAN.
APPLICATIONS FOR PRINTS: SWIMWEAR & MEN'S WOVEN SHIRTS
OLD NAVY, SPEEDO, AEROPOSTALE, JCREW, NAUTICA, PRIVATE LABEL SWIM
Recently, I took a survey amongst my social network to see which Middle Eastern women were considered style icons, social distruptors & muses to them. Over a hundred comments later on my feed and the muses kept rolling in. I was both humbled and blown away by the rich herstory of fiercely talented and beautiful women who have broken boundaries, healed the hearts of their nations, and brought decades of inspiration to those they have touched with their lives' work and missions. Please note: I'm using the term "Middle Eastern" somewhat loosely here to include North Africa, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq and all of the Arab-speaking nations.
One of the most iconic and celebrated of these women is Oum Kalthoum (also spelled Umm Kulthum). She was an internationally famous Egyptian singer, songwriter, and film actress active from the 1920s to the 1970s. She was given the name "The Voice of Egypt", but her music and her unique singing style has been mesmerizing the entire Arab world and beyond for decades now.
“ Imagine a singer with the virtuosity of Joan Sutherland or Ella Fitzgerald, the public persona of Eleanor Roosevelt and the audience of Elvis and you have Oum Kalthoum, the most accomplished singer of her century in the Arab world. ”
— Virginia Danielson, Harvard Magazine
What I love about this singing diva of divas is that not only did she have a unique singing style, but she also had a very distinct personal sense of style. To me, she looks like an Arab goddess mashup of Roy Orbison (with her dark sunglasses), Jackie Kennedy (with her smart tweed tailored suit skirts) and Amy Winehouse (with her bouffant beehive hairdo).
I will be exploring Oum Kalthoum, her style and the impact she has had on generations of Arab/Middle Easterners in future posts. For now though, I leave you with this live performance that Beyonce did where the music she sampled is from an iconic Oum Kalthoumsong “Enta Omri” (you are my life), one of Kalthoum’s biggest hits and most famous musical pieces of all time in the Arab world. Though definitely a sexy way to start the show, Beyonce's use of Kalthoum's iconic music has been criticized as cultural appropriation and according to this Muslim Girl article "an orientalist nightmare".
And here is some (blurry) but amazing footage of Oum Khaltoum performing "Enta Omri" live many moons ago. I feel swept away be her voice and the rhythms of the music and beat. I can only imagine how the audience felt in her presence, allowing her voice and the hypnotic rhythms lull them into a trance-like state of ecstasy.
This past Saturday, I hosted the second installment of a pop-up dinner party series at my home in Los Angeles. I was meeting and greeting all the dinner guests when one of them, who was a friend of a friend, asked me what the purpose of my dinner party was.
That question took me by surprise. I guess I just assumed everyone who had signed up to come to this gathering was looking to have a delicious culinary experience and maybe meet some new people. As I took a minute to gather my thoughts and respond to his question, I had to dig deep and ask myself what exactly the purpose of these dinner parties are.
Although I have made my living for the past 20 years as a fashion/ lifestyle designer and visual artist, cooking and feeding people has been a recurring theme in my life for as long as I can remember. As with many immigrant families, sharing a communal meal of large platters of food has been a part of my upbringing. It is one of the most significant and accessible ways for friends and family to experience a sense of abundance, even during the most difficult of times.
In my early childhood, my parents had lost all their wealth and possessions during the Iranian Revolution and had to start over in Arizona with only their talent and determination. I remember the joy of gathering around the dinner table for large platters of buttery, fluffy basmati rice and slow-cooked braised eggplant to ease and comfort us in our somewhat hostile and foreign environment (where our white Republican neighbors were both suspicious of and slightly fearful of us.)
Later in my young adult life, when I had moved to New York City in the mid 90's to study fashion at Parsons School of Design, I came out to my parents over the phone while stirring a pot of Ghormeh Sabzi to feed a couple of queer Iranian friends who were visiting me from San Francisco.
Ironically, I had been told that when a woman has mastered cooking this national dish, that she was ready for marriage. In my case, mastering Ghormeh Sabzi gave me the courage to come out as queer.
Breaking bread and sharing the dishes of our motherlands became a big part of the underground queer Arab/Middle-Eastern/Iranian/SWANA scene back in the 90's and early 2000's as well. Long before we had social media to connect us, those of us who were part of these diasporas that had denied our queer/trans existence, were hosting dinner parties and potlucks in our humble apartments and walk-ups in Brooklyn, Queens, San Francisco, Oakland, and many cities in between. We shared stories of both the positive and sometimes devastating effects of our coming out to our respective families, as well as held space for those of us who were still living in the shadows that we called the closet.
I moved around a bunch in my twenties and thirties for my fashion/design career: from New York to Minneapolis and back to Brooklyn before moving West and spending some time in the Bay Area before making Los Angeles my home seven years ago. Every time I start over in a new town, my first impulse has been to build community by inviting folks over to my home for an authentic Persian/Iranian meal.
Building community in LA has proven to be a completely different animal than what I have experienced in any other city I have lived in. Folks here are over-scheduled, over-worked, over-committed and have to factor in commutes, parking and geography every time they want to make a social commitment. People tend to congregate mostly with others who work in the same field as they do (read entertainment/movie industry). That organic way in which I have met and built friendships in other towns has proven to be rather ineffective in LaLa Land.
For me, creating these SAVAGE MUSE pop-up dinner parties is partly a way to bring together other folks who fall under the intersectional umbrella of mixed cultures, heritages, sexual and gender orientations, occupations and creative interests to come together and break bread together in a visually inviting, comfortable space.
It is also partly a way for me to more fully express my potential as a lifestyle/brand designer, event creator, visual artist and creative director who can create a seamless brand from the menu design to the social media marketing to the table setting to who I staff and what food I cook and serve. Every aspect of these dinner parties is part of the "Savage Muse" philosophy and aesthetic.
If you would like to get notified of upcoming SAVAGE MUSE events or read future posts and stories, subscribe to my newsletter at the bottom of this page or click here to send me your contact info. I hope to see you at a future SAVAGE MUSE event!
I just launched the SAVAGE MUSE gallery, where I will be posting the illustrations, paintings, and lifestyle merchandise I have been creating over the past year of my SAVAGE SABBATICAL.
Please note: I have the capacity to print any of these illustrations/paintings onto canvas, pillows, mugs, tshirts and many other types of products, so contact me here if you're interested to find out more!
Last night, I found myself in a setting fit for a scene out of "Arabian Nights". Instead of Scheherezadeh trying to save her neck from imminent death by the deeply misogynistic ruler, Sharyar, I was enveloped in a world of fierce, gorgeous, powerful goddesses who were reclaiming the narrative of the exoticized orientalist fantasies of the harem.
Orientalize yourself, Fetishize yourself...
This is how I would describe the magical, sensual photoshoot event put together by the newly formed MOOZIS. The MOOZIS (as per their FB page) "are a collective of artists attempting to bring together kindred peoples of non-traditional, feminist, sex-positive, gender and non-gender inclusive, progressive, multi-abled, creative and multiplicitous cultural and spiritual Muslims. We are interested in learning through internal exchange with our kindred without judgement while creating playful, subcultural programs to connect, learn and make ourselves count in the definition and understandings of Muslims. We hope to use this cultural exchange to create an elaborate extended network that can help and collaborate, building us strong and out of isolation."
As a finale to their spring residency at The Women's Center for Creative Work in Los Angeles, the MOOZIS (founded by Amitis Motevalli, Arshia Fatima Haq and Sasha Ali), organized a photoshoot for the MOOZI members with the theme " Internally Orientalized Auto-Ethnographic Portraits". Those of us who were invited to participate in this photo shoot were encouraged to "orientalize yourself, fetishize yourself, and portray yourself as you please."
This definitely appealed to my inner Savage Muse and I very enthusiastically pulled together a look that allowed me to orientalize and fetishize myself. You will have to wait to see the final results of the photo shoot, shot by the very talented photographer Labbie Manesh .
In addition to the talented photograher and gorgeous MOOZI models, part of what made this photoshoot absolutely magical and stunning was the fact that we had it at a historical rug shop in Pasadena that has been around since the 1930's. The Pasadena Rug Mart is a treasure trove of antiques, rug, art and exquisite relics of a sensual and romantic past, run by a third generation descendant of Oriental rug master weavers and merchants, Mr. Abbas Firouzi. Sadly, they will be closing their doors soon, so if you have a chance, pay them a visit and get yourself an authentic Persian rug or antiques before this treasure of a store is gone.