Listening to Amy Winehouse’s Frank while burning the incense she created in collaboration with Apotheke, Paria Farzaneh is wearing a look almost all of her own creation: a blue mesh top with lace trim, military green balloon shorts, black tights, and a pair of Hoka slides. She holds a steaming cup of tea close to her face, and asks us if we’d like one as well. We’re at her studio on a small industrial estate in southeast London, but we’re not really here to see the clothes. Instead, Farzaneh has lined up a collection of possessions and things that matter to her – a Hello Kitty purse, a punnet of tomatoes, her cherished stash of saffron. And she’s ready to discuss their meaning. But she also wants to discuss her uneasy relationship with fashion, collaborations, shoplifting, and the superiority of home-cooked Iranian food.

Paria Farzaneh photographed at her south London studio by Michaël Protin for Something Curated.

Farzaneh was born in Tiverton to Iranian parents, but as a young child moved to the East Yorkshire town of Hull, where she grew up. She would eventually go on to study menswear at Ravensbourne University in the mid 2010s, but after graduating wound up first packing hampers at Fortnum and Mason (“because I couldn’t get a job at Sainsbury’s”) and later selling millions of pounds-worth of Louis Vuitton handbags at the boutique in Westfield. It wasn’t until 2018 that she got her big break – selected as the influential British Fashion Council’s NEWGEN “One To Watch” in 2018, and a semi-finalist of the coveted LVMH prize in 2019. Fashion was the industry she’d identified since the age of 10, developing an early interest in clothes, and though her designs have found worldwide success, Farzaneh has grown disillusioned by the industry to which she now reluctantly belongs.  

“I wrote to Vogue when I was 13 or 14 asking for a job and they actually wrote me back saying I needed to be 18, which is really funny,” she says. “I’ve still got it – it’s cool. And then you meet them and you’re like, you’re not cool.”

Farzaneh no longer produces conventional fashion shows, but instead continues to use her work as a platform for activism, and wants to make the industry and her clothes more accessible to those who have been traditionally excluded. She also wants to prioritise positivity and remain generous with her creativity – it’s her number one aim moving forward. “I think we’ve had a tough couple of years – I think it’s really difficult not to get caught up in the doom and gloom and there’s a lot of bad things going on. And I think when you’re an artist, you can selfishly clock out of what’s going on outside by making something or getting obsessed with … PVC, for example. So now, it’s more about giving back and having everybody involved in the escapism.”

Papier d’Arménie

This is my recent discovery. So I was staying at my friend’s in Paris, she wasn’t there and I just walked in and this scent was just so predominant. I was like, wow, this is it actually feels like we’re in Paris, which was really cool.

You can buy it from a pharmacy – so it’s quite accessible. But for me, burning one of those is like starting a new day. I don’t know, I just feel it really changes the room atmosphere and if you’re unsure then it just gives a bit more stability. I think the scent is quite nostalgic, in a way – I can’t describe it. So yeah, this new thing is something I need to have at all costs.

Hello Kitty

This is everywhere. I’ve just had a really strong obsession with Hello Kitty since I was a child.

So whenever I see any products related to her, I’m not leaving without it. You know? There’s just no way … it’s almost like a religion. It’s the one thing I’ve probably been consistent on for 20 years.

It’s just something that’s really nostalgic. And also when you’re looking at Hello Kitty, you’re not thinking about anything else. It’s just like being really captured in the moment and escaping with that character. I think she’s just a motivation for a lot of people. So I kind of like that about like a drawn picture essentially, you know, she has like such a strong presence in the world. So yeah, I think Hello Kitty for everyone.

This is God level; I can definitely guarantee when you see Kitty again, you’ll think of her differently. There’s just something about her … just something about her.

Beats x Paria Farzaneh headphones

This is a collab that I did probably two years ago, with Beats. And yeah, everybody uses headphones every day. You need something to block the sound out, really.

I wouldn’t ever design something I don’t use or have a perspective on because there’s no point in collaborating with a brand because you just want to make a new product, for no reason. So it’s definitely about trying to bring my own perspective to the product.

Working with these big corporate companies – sometimes they need to be present so that you’re able to execute this vision that you wouldn’t be able to do necessarily on your own.

I can’t remember how many we made. But there was a lot gifted to people, celebrities or whatever. I mean, that’s what they do it for: the affiliation; they’re not doing it to change the world. Working with people that are from subcultures, or different communities will bring relevance to the brand. So, you’re kind of selling yourself a little bit but it’s got to be done.

There’s another collab coming up but I can’t say who it’s with.


It’s more expensive than gold! It’s a very prized possession in the Middle East and we use it in a lot of Iranian cooking so I don’t really know my life without it to be honest.

Yeah, so my mom gets the saffron from Iran and then she condenses it in a micro powdering machine.

They also give it as a gift as well, for birthdays or weddings. So you’d get a little petri dish, like a little display case with gold edging. It’s an honourable kind of gift because it’s the best – the best gift that you can give.

My mum gets it from Iran but she lives in Hull, so she’ll drive it down for me. It’s really nice; it’s really special.


I do actually eat tomatoes every day. So I will probably spend six or seven pounds on tomatoes in my weekly shop, all year round. Since I was a child, I’ve just been addicted. They’re really big part of my diet.

They taste like the sunshine. And yeah, if you get a really good one … they just feel healthy. I like that feeling. In Iran, I would have it with lemon juice and dried mint – it’s starter but I’d eat it in the kitchen, so it would never make it to the table!

I love a beef tomato. And marinda – that variation, with olive oil and salt: life changing. And M&S do them and they’re easy to steal from there – which is fine, because we’re boycotting M&S.

But I just got some seeds for my birthday so I’m having a go at sowing them this summer. Let’s see.

Mum and dad

Well, this is my mum and dad. I feel like having two best friends in an unfamiliar setting – life, running a business – is just vital. Really. It’s survival skills, basic survival. They’ve always had some kind of sensible answer for everything, even though you feel like the sky is falling down. Or you can’t progress something in a really difficult moment: Mum and dad, definitely. I’m so lucky to have them and still get to do this for them. Because their years were definitely taken away from them after leaving Iran so they’re living vicariously through me.

The image I have printed off is actually a graphic that I made for a t-shirt we launched when I was working with LN-CC during one of my first collections. The original photograph is from the 60s and is stored in an album with a lot more images from their wedding. 

A recipe Paria Farzaneh’s saffron tea

Half a button worth of ground saffron
Ceylon tea leaves
A couple of ice cubes
4/5 cardamom pods, crushed slightly 
Hot water

You’ll need:
Tea pot
Tea warmer

Boil the kettle and set aside. Pour the saffron directly onto the ice cubes in a small glass and let the saffron infuse. The saffron will completely dissolve into the ice, and you should be left with a bright orange liquid. Set aside. 

Heap 3/4 tablespoons of Ceylon tea depending on the size of your tea pot and pour hot water on top. Add in the cardamom pods, the saffron water and give it a good stir. 

Put the lid back onto the teapot, cover with a tea towel or tea cosy and place on a tea warmer to infuse for 10-15 minutes. 

Always pour the first cup back into the teapot to make sure it mixes the tea potency level! 

And here’s my other favourite tea, an Iranian earl grey.

All photography by Michaël Protin. This interview has been edited for clarity.

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