From Iran, New York, London, Milan, and Zurich, Negarin Sadr is the rising star who has established her myriad of talents in every corner of the world. A champion of practical femininity, the painter-cum-sculptor-cum-businesswoman turned fashion designer holds a multi-faceted blade of creative talent that has led her to a coveted place at London Fashion Week and a cult celebrity following. From shimmering lizards to a vast vintage archive, Rtister found out what gets the London-based designer’s creative cogs ticking in our 'Meet the Designer' interview.
Your creative skills/background go far deeper than just fashion design. How did you end up working in fashion?
I’ve been painting from the age of 4, and I stayed a painter until just five years ago. As the years went on it wasn’t acceptable in my family to be an artist, so I became involved in finance and economics, working in trading and commodities. At school I had a particular focus on sculpture, and that’s how I ended up in shoe design at Donna Karan: there’s a definite architectural connection between the two. I met the senior bag designer there who was discovered by Calvin Klein aged 17. Seeing a complete artist and painter who ended up with a promising career in fashion was a very inspirational moment for me: it’s when I decided that I wanted to work in the industry. It’s challenging to work in any other industry after you’re immersed in fashion; the stress levels, the personalities, the drama…nothing really compares to it. It’s hyperactive and fast-paced, but I think if it suits your personality it becomes an addictive game.
Do you express your artistic experience through your designs?
More than you would think! Fashion is a complicated industry, but at the end of the day so much of it is about conceptualising and envisioning. If you can do that, then you can design. My collections are very much print focused, and I still like to pick up a paintbrush and hand-paint my prints. Of course I have technology that helps with that process: I can scan in a painting and see it in ten different colour variations for example, but I always make sure that one of my painted prints is featured in each collection. It’s my way of stamping a subtle artistic mark on my designs.
What influences your designs? What inspires you, both professionally/artistically and personally?
Honestly, anything. From walking down the street, to my vintage archive, to street art. I came across an installation of a huge lizard in Madrid: it was made of CD discs that were reflecting the sunset, creating this stunning glowing creature. I find installations like that really inspiring, especially colour wise. If I feel inspired by a photograph and its colours, then I want that reflected that on my rails; for example if a painting is predominantly white, then I want the rail to be mirror that too.
I adore the minimal chicness of Céline and Phoebe Philo’s Chloé. The simplicity of their collections celebrates femininity in a non-sexual way. The focus is on the silhouette and movement of fabric, and there’s an understanding of the female form which steers away from androgyny and stays true to a truly feminine philosophy.
I have a huge archive of inspiration that I’ve collected over the years, mainly in vintage. I’ll style vintage pieces together, often creating somewhat crazy outfits, and pick out elements from them to use in my collection. Whether it is a particular print, a combination of colours, or a particular shape or fit of a blouse or skirt.
How much of your personal style influences your collection?
You’re always developing in fashion so your personal style has to stay on track and develop with it. Of course, the collections reflect my personal taste but you have to be conscious of who you are designing for. My father always said that the market humbles you, and it’s true, you must design for your customer and not yourself. I like to make sure that there are enough fits, cuts and silhouettes within the collection to suit women of different shapes, sizes and ages. Accessibility and versatility is key.
Who is the Negarin woman?
The Negarin woman has definitely hit thirty: she’s successful, energetic, and ambitious. She looks chic and polished, when really her style is effortless. She is metropolitan and cultured, which she has to be to understand the collection, and she embraces her femininity despite working in a corporate world. I think what women need is an outfit that is beautiful, smart and transitional, that steps away from the boring uniform of a grey wool dress and blazer.
You’ve been showcased at LFW and are growing a cult group of celebrity followers: what’s next in store for the future for you and the brand?
Negarin is essentially a lifestyle brand, so realising the concept and creating the Negarin world in a stand-alone store would encapsulate that. For the time being I’d love to branch out my accessories.