DESIGNER INTERVIEW: Amir Taghi talks Inspiration & Fashion in the Family

Monday, December 16, 2013

Amir Taghi is only 17 years old, but unlike other teenagers his age, he has already decided what he wants his career to be: Fashion Designer.  This actually may come of no surprise, as Fashion runs in his family.  Yes this is the same Taghi name that owns the luxury menswear store A. Taghi on Westheimer.  Amir has been designing clothes for 3-4 years and he presented his Spring 2014 collection as one of 3 emerging designers at Fashion Houston this past November. A few weeks before Fashion Houston, Amir hosted an open house at his house/showroom for the Houston Fashion community, but unfortunately I was out of town at LuckyFabb. Luckily for me, Amir invited me to come by on my own to view his collection and this is how I found myself sitting in an amazing house, viewing Amir's Spring 2014 collection one week before Fashion Houston!

Amir, thank you for taking the time to chat with me tonight and give me a preview of your collection before Fashion Houston.  You are listed as an emerging designer for Fashion Houston 2014, but I know this is not your first collection. How long have you been designing and when did you decide this was your passion? 
3-4 years.  I'm 17 and still in high school but my family is in fashion I had a bit of a heads up on what I really wanted to do for a career. At a young age, I was influenced by my family's store A. Taghi that specializes in men's clothing and I've been in this family with a history of great style. My mom, to my grandmother & my aunts and uncles everyone has had great style. I was always interested in design, like architecture and interior design, but they didn't evolve quickly enough for me. I wanted something that changed as fast as my ideas changed and fashion was a great place for me, because you get to change from one season to another.  That's how I really got into fashion, and I started when I was a freshmen in High School.

Well congrats on deciding what you want to do so early in life! Let's talk about your Spring 2014 collection? What was your inspiration for this line?
For this collection I was inspired by the Japanese Samurai as well as the 1950s. The 1950s was the era of the classic woman, the Christian Dior new look. I was very inspired by that era, but wanted to update it. I was also inspired by the Japanese Samurai, and the Japanese Samurai is more geometric with more angles, so it's a classic but modern line.

Let's talk about your fabric choices for Spring.
I'm using thicker materials, like double-faced satin, and crepe-backed satin, and but also mixing it those with sheer fabrics. I use organza and silk tulle to create the sheer affect on the clothes. I have peek-a-boo sides that are opened, but covered with organza. Opened, but not really.


Which look is your favorite?
I have a lot of favorites, but my all-time favorite is the bustier tulle gown. It's a ball gown, but not really since it only goes to the ankle. It's a more modern and classic lady, but very young, very Carrie Bradshaw.

What about your color choices?
This season I went a little bit darker, and focused on blue, as well as this orangie mauve tone which is a contrast to the blue.  I was heavily working with contrast this collection and using all shades of blue. I have a crystal blue and a midnight blue, as well as black and whites which are all-time classics. I did shorts that are white with black lace, and black with white lace to keep the contrast.

Since you are already designing, do you have plans to go to school and study design further?
Yes! I don't want to stop my education after high school. I want to keep on going. It's always great to keep on learning, because you can never learn enough. I really want to go to a school like Parsons in New York, or Central St. Martins in London. So many greats have gone there like Zac Posen and Tom Ford. I really want to learn and keep on learning.
What about appearing on a show like Project Runway? 
I was actually asked to be on it, but I declined.  It puts you in a situation where you may be considered more of a reality star versus a designer and I really don't want to be a reality star. I want to be more of an Oscar or Zac Posen who focus on very high-end clothing. I didn't want to stop myself and be someone less than I think I really could be.

How do you deal with your time management in designing your collections every season and going to school? 
It's even harder for me, because I do attend school and I have tests every single week. AP tests as well as Fashion. Like right now I'm going through a really difficult time, because tomorrow I have a couple of tests but this is the week before Fashion Houston so I have a lot of double editing to do. I'm really lucky that my school has laptops and we're allowed to use our them throughout the day.  I check & send emails, choose models, talk with the manufactures, David Peck during school. It's hard, but because I'm so passionate and I really want to do it, I manage my time.

I can definitely tell that this is something you are very passionate about! School has definitely changed since I've attended! I won't date myself, but we had the monster desktops that were in one classroom, and we definitely were not walking around with laptops, but that is awesome that you are able to do that! Speaking of school, what do your friends think  about you at school? Do they know you are designing and doing this on the side? 
Actually, they love that I'm doing this, even the guys that are playing football or are more into sports. I have the biggest support from my school, which is very nice to have such a big support group behind me. Everyone at school supports me. At my fashion show two weeks ago, we had about 20 people from my school, including the reverend and the head of school and all the art teachers. It was nice to know that they were here.

That's wonderful! I'm sure it makes it easier with your friends and teachers behind you! Do you ever talk to your art teachers about your collections? Who do you received your mentorship from?
So I have 3 main mentors, actually 4. My parents, which are my business mentors, so I receive all of my business tips from them. My art mentors, are my art teacher, David Peck, as well as Noelle Sakowitz who is the fabric designer at Oscar De La Renta.

Very nice, that's a great connection to have, and David Peck himself is very impressive. I love all of his collections, and I can imagine that he'd be a wealth of information!  How do you feel about showing at Fashion Houston next week?
I'm nervous! I'm really excited because this is the best collection I've ever designed. I'm really excited to show it and see how all of the hard work has paid off by showing to such an impressive crowd. It's a nice feeling to see people wearing your looks, and hopefully next week we'll have some people wearing it along with more buyers.

Do you have a team and do you all of your designs yourself? 
Yes, it's all me. I design. I choose all of the fabrics. It's pretty much all me with the help of David Peck because he's the manufacturer and he gives me tips going through everything. But everything is mostly through me. I do my own press, marketing and selling.

You're like a one-man show! Any plans to expand the team?
I don't think so, at least not right now. I think it's going to be just me and my parents until I finish high school and college. But it's fun! I like doing everything.

Sounds like you are like me! I'm a type A personality, and I have a hard time delegating and letting other people do stuff.  I feel like my hands are in everything even when I do give tasks to other people. 
Yea that's 100% me. I don't like giving things to other people. It has to be perfect and if it's not perfect and it goes to press, it's going to reflect on me.

Have you started thinking about your Fall  2014 collection?
Yes! Actually, I started thinking about it yesterday. It's going to be something different. I'm jumping from one idea to another. This one was more classic, and the next one will be  more contemporary.

Have you been able to find your aesthetic voice yet?
I think this collection (Spring 2014) really showed my voice. My next collections will be similar, and won't change drastically, but they are going to evolve everytime I show a new collection. There will be elements that remain true to what I've been doing, but there will be something new every single time, something you have not seen before.

Tell us a little bit more about your family history in Fashion!
My grandfather was a top importer in Iran and when he moved here, he told my uncles that they should do fashion.  They opened a store 30 years ago at Post Oak and San Felipe and then they moved to the location where they are now that used to be a fire station. The store has been growing ever since. They have carried Versace, Brioni, and now Dunhill. As a store we've been evolving as well, but it's always been high-end Italian clothing, which has been a great background for me.

I bet! Do you get any inspiration from your house alone, with this amazing architecture? This just seems like such a creative space. Do you do a lot of your designing here?
I do all of my designing here. I've been stealing spaces since we've moved in. I now have 3 rooms. I have my bedroom and then I have my studio as well as my showroom. I am inspired by architecture. Persian architecture is very different than what's in Houston and America. It's more of the traditional Persian rugs, mosaics, round edges, and arcs. I've been inspired by the colors and everything about Persian culture.
Wow I asked you a lot of questions! Ha! Thank you so much Amir for chatting with me tonight, and good luck with your presentation at Fashion Houston and future collections!
Thank you!

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