Taking the plunge: Swimsuit designer Tala Raassi (SHOWN) has been busy! She just launched her Spring/Summer 2017 collection, including the Fiesta off-the-shoulder ruffle-top one-piece, and late last year, she released her memoir, Fashion Is Freedom.
At age 16, Tala Raassi was imprisoned for five days in Tehran and punished with 40 lashings. Her crime? She wore a miniskirt to a party. “My parents grew up in an environment where alcohol was legal, mixed parties weren’t banned, and women could showcase their individuality through their style in public. Iranian women were among the most fashionable in the world!” explains Raassi of life before the Iranian Revolution introduced stricter codes of conduct. “Even though, after the revolution, many of these simple freedoms were taken away, I witnessed women who, despite all the restrictions, put so much effort into looking good. [My mother and her friends] were always so glamorous to me, and their beauty and style inspired me.”
While the successful swimsuit designer left Iran for DC in 2000—she came here to be with family, not to flee the country—that traumatic experience as a teenager helped inspire her compelling memoir, Fashion Is Freedom: How a Girl from Tehran Broke the Rules to Change Her World, which was published last year. “Freedom is not about what you put on or take off,” she says. “It’s about having the choice to do so.”
This spring, the 33-year-old designer’s work continues with the launch of her Spring/Summer 2017 collection, which, she says, was designed for the “stylish, bold, fearless globetrotter” to feel “comfortable, sexy, and confident.” Her seven-year-old business is taking off, but Raassi defines success a little differently. For her, she says, it means becoming a better version of yourself.