I’ve known designer Nima Taherzadeh since he was knee-high to a grasshopper, as they like to say. OK, slight exaggeration. But the first time we met was back in 2006, when Nima was a senior at Parsons and I was on the senior thesis panel (an annual event during which industry experts come in to review and critique the work of Parsons’ graduating class).
I was instantly struck by the maturity of his designs – Nima specializes in feminine, elegant cuts with a decidedly modern twist – and by the fact that he produced a full range of shoes and bags (really, really good shoes and bags) to accessorize his thesis collection. And I wasn’t the only one impressed. Within months of graduating, Nima’s collection was hanging on the racks at Saks Fifth Avenue. Not bad for a fashion world newbie.
Today, Nima continues to sell at Saks, along with specialty boutiques worldwide, and his designs have been featured in WWD, ELLE, InStyle, and Harper’s BAZAAR. We’ve kept in touch, whether it’s during NYFW (when I’ve reviewed his collections for TFI and Vogue.com UK) or socially, as we have friends in common and tend to travel in the same circles.
A few weeks ago, we met up for dinner at Corsino Cantina, one of our favorite haunts in the West Village. “You have to try the beet salad, it’s incredible!” he urged as we settled in at our table overlooking Horatio Street and ordered two glasses of rosé. “You only like it because it has pistachios,” I teased (Nima was born in Iran, a huge supplier of the little green nuts). “You’re probably right,” he laughed.
He also suggested that I run, not walk, to check out the newly opened section of the High Line park – “it’s beautiful!” – which culminates near his apartment in Chelsea. Over beet salad and Spanish mackerel with asparagus for me, tagliatelle with pork ragu and mint for him, we discussed the benefits of living in Brooklyn or Queens versus Manhattan (in a nutshell: larger living spaces and open sky vs. the convenience of getting around quickly).
Nima told me about his plans to continue growing his business and explained that he prefers pop-up selling days (which are held in stores on season) to trunk shows (which take place months before the merchandise arrives for a particular season, meaning customers can only see sample garments – and can’t try things on if they aren’t a sample size). In the last “crazy, crazy” year, Nima’s pop-up selling events took him to San Francisco, Houston, Naples, Palm Beach, Bal Harbor, Dallas, Boston, D.C., Chevy Chase, and Chicago (where he does the annual fashion show benefit for Children’s Memorial Hospital). “It’s interesting; the clientele is completely different – with a completely different look – in every city.”
He confided that he hadn’t had a summer vacation since he left school – “I can’t, I’m always working!” – but that he usually sneaks away for some R&R in late September (this year’s destination: Europe, possibly Berlin), and always goes to Aspen for a week of skiing following the February shows.
We discussed our mutual ex-Parsons pals Tim Gunn and Carmela Spinelli (she’s now the Dean of the Fashion Department at SCAD – the Savannah College of Art and Design – and he’s … well, you know what Tim is up to). We also agreed that life feels more manageable without TV (neither of us own one) and leaves more time for things like reading books, such as “The Hunger Games,” Nima’s current fave. “It’s great,” he said with a laugh between sips of vino. “You die or fight to the death, and there’s lots of fashion. It’s so much my life!”
As we headed back out onto the sweltering sidewalk, Nima told me he was planning a “more low-key, intimate” presentation for September Fashion Week to showcase his Spring 2012 collection, which promises to be “fun, colorful, uplifting, and chic.” Just like the man himself.