Nima Shiraz is a Haute Couture fashion designer based in San Francisco.
Chrysta Bell has worn his elegant and sophisticated designs to many of her major engagements.
In 2003, Nima migrated to San Francisco, California, from Tehran, Iran. Initially upon arrival, he began a career in business and finance while studying architecture in school. Soon, Nima’s love of architecture began to inspire the structure of bold and inspiring fashion designs.
Since creating his first garment in 2010, Nima’s creations have been featured in nationally published editorials and graced the red carpet of numerous events. He now is a San Francisco based designer of RTW and custom couture clothing for men and women and creates distinctive evening, performance, red carpet, and bridal garments every season.
Nima Shiraz creations are meticulously designed to accentuate each client and make a statement. Alluring lines, romantic details, quality materials and flawless construction define the Nima Shiraz aesthetic. He believes that every client, no matter what size or shape, should have the opportunity to wear a garment tailored perfectly to their body and style.
Interview with the fantastic 'Nima Shiraz'
Tasha Love: Where were you born and how did you come to live in San Francisco?
Nima Shiraz: I was born and raised in Shiraz, Iran, although as a boy, I lived for a time just outside of the capital, Tehran.
I immigrated to the U.S. in my late teens thanks to my grandmother who was a U.S. Citizen. She sponsored my green card application, which took 14 years to process.
Tasha Love: What is your favorite memory as a child?
Nima Shiraz: I grew up during a difficult time in Iran. After the 1979 revolution ousted the Shah, a U.S.-backed dictator, a new regime had swept into power, enacting strict Islamic rules and restrictions on Iranians. The country had also become embroiled in an 8-year long war with Iraq. I was living in Tehran at the time, which was frequently rattled by Iraqi rockets and bombs. Thankfully, my parents did a wonderful job protecting me from the many traumatic events that pockmarked my early childhood.
After the war ended, the economy bounced back and the government began to relax the strict Islamic laws that had been enacted. Sunnier times and a tight-knit group of friends made my teenage years a blast. My friends and I would go on nature adventures, have house parties, and spend many our nights eating Pizza at the park. We also loved to drive around town, blasting American pop music and singing along at the top of our lungs. These are some of my favorite memories.
Tasha Love: Tell us about your life as a model.
Nima Shiraz: Beginning in 2008, I did occasional modeling jobs on the side for a few years after I got scouted by a local designer looking for ethnic models to walk in his show. This opportunity led to several more in which I got to work with talented photographers and stylists to build a professional portfolio.
While I had some modeling opportunities, commercially successful San Francisco agencies did not typically sign models with Middle Eastern looks at the time because there was little demand for them.
I was also told often that I looked like Prince, which some designers and photographers didn’t care for while others did. So, I had to be my own agent and worked hard to pursue as many opportunities as I could with some success.
Tasha Love: Was there a turning point? How did you get into clothing design?
Nima Shiraz: Around 2010, I began gravitating towards projects that were more artistic and theatrical. I also became more involved with the creative decisions that were made behind the scenes.
As a result, several photographers encouraged me to take on artistic directing and styling projects. The idea really intimidated me at first, but they kept pushing me. I guess they believed in me more than I did.
I did styling and artistic directing for about a year before I decided to pick up the needle and learn how to sew.
Tasha Love: What were your earliest inspirations?
Nima Shiraz: When I first began making garments, I don’t remember looking at fashion magazines, runway shows, old Hollywood movies or anything of the sort. I didn’t even know the names of most successful designers. Quite frankly, when I look back, I myself wonder where those early-on ideas came from.
However, as I learned more about design and construction, I began to admire and appreciate the masterful designs and incredible craftsmanship of Thierry Muglar, John Galliano, Elie Saab, Alexander McQueen and the likes.
Tasha Love: Who are your inspirations now?
Nima Shiraz: Like everyone else these days, I find myself living in a society that seems to be increasingly divided. More and more of us find ourselves caught up in tribalism: us versus them and left versus right. As a result, there is precious little room for nuance and exploration.
We also seem entangled by these notions of absolute truth and binary choices, which are fueled by the anger and frustration boiling up in our society. These rumblings have been on my mind quite a bit these days and naturally serve as a source of inspiration. It’s what’s going to inspire me the most. I can’t escape it. It’s going to reflect in the work that I create one way or another.
Tasha Love: What inspires you about Chrysta Bell?
Nima Shiraz: Chrysta Bell is intelligent, extremely hard working and a real pleasure to work with. From a designer’s perspective, she is striking, sensual yet regal, with an almost hypnotic figure. She is every couturier’s dream come true.
However, what inspires me the most about Chrysta Bell is that she is kind and genuine. Like everyone else who knows her, I have tremendous respect for her. Knowing her and having had the opportunity to work with her over the years has been a privilege for me.
Tasha Love: What was your first outfit that you created with her?
Nima Shiraz: The first look I created with Chrysta Bell was a blood red gown cut from figure-skimming 4 ply silk with a plunging neckline, a lace embellished open back and a fluid skirt that softly trailed behind. She wore this look for an editorial spread featuring her in Red Bull’s international print magazine, the Red Bulletin. My favorite shot of Chrysta Bell was the centerfold spread of her lounging on a chaise with the luscious red silk draped over her.
Tasha Love: What is your favorite outfit that you created for Chrysta Bell?
Nima Shiraz: The winner for me is the emerald green leather bodysuit that Chrysta Bell wore during her live performance at the 2015 David Lynch Foundation concert in Los Angeles. The bodysuit was constructed with two-inch pieces of leather attached to one another by hand and adorned with over 2,000 Swarovski crystals.
The press raved about both her performance and outfit. Every journalist that covered her performance mentioned her outfit, including the LA Times which published a picture of her in the bodysuit. The outfit was a hit because it was a fusion of Chrysta Bell’s vision and mine. She requested an emerald green leather bodysuit, and I took the idea and ran with it.
Chrysta Bell also closed my FW16 show in the same bodysuit last year, which turned out to be an epic finale. The audience gasped when she walked onto the runway in it. It was an incredible moment.
Tasha Love: If you had endless resources, what would you create for Chrysta Bell?
Nima Shiraz: A liquid gown!
Tasha Love: How do you feel as a Persian-American with DT’s travel ban on Muslim Americans?
Nima Shiraz: The executive order would have banned me from entering the US had it been around when I immigrated here in 2003. So, when the President signed the order, I felt like I was in the direct line of fire even though I am a U.S. Citizen. I imagine all U.S. citizens from the six nations (originally seven) felt similarly.
I am puzzled by the order because no nationals of the six countries have committed a terrorist act on U.S. soil, and yet it was issued in the name of national security. Not to mention that entering the U.S. from Iran is already extremely difficult. Extreme vetting measures have been in place since the 1980s.
Also, I was somewhat amused by the President’s official statement last week wishing Iranian-Americans a happy Persian New Year and referring to our community as “…one of the most successful immigrant groups in our country’s contemporary history.” Do Iranian immigrants contribute to American society or do we represent a threat to our national security?
Tasha Love: How has this wave of separatist political climate impacted your life?
Nima Shiraz: It’s unclear what will happen to the pending decades-long immigration applications of some people I know. I am also hesitant to travel abroad to see my family even though I am a U.S. citizen. There have been reports of people perceived to be Muslim having re-entering the country.
Otherwise, my life hasn’t changed all that much given that I live in San Francisco, which is a fairly diverse and welcoming city. I don’t want to have a pity party for myself here. There are people in this country that have it worse than I do.
Tasha Love: Thank you Nima!