As the majority of you, who are following my journey, already know that I have a special bond with the city of Paris. Magic things always happened when I am there.
During the last Paris Fashion Week I was invited to an event from a very renowned showroom for the launch of an exclusive fragrance. During that evening also the other labels of the showroom where also present to show their pieces and, after meeting the CEO of the perfume brand, my curiosity lead me to take a look around.
And dang! I was ancestrally attracted by a black jacket that for a second reminded me the movie Maleficient with Angelina Jolie. After that evening I remain in contact with this unique and unconventional label named Gelareh Design .
Gelareh Alam, the CEO and founder of Gelareh, has a visionary, fierce and fearless talent. A girl boss with a specific attitude to details and craftsmanship today has given me an interview that is really inspiring and give us a close inside in the life of an entrepreneur and of a label.
1) I imagine that in your life your passion for fashion became bigger years after years. When you decided to turn it into a job? How was born your brand and what is its meaning for you?
Art was a big part of my being, from my very first memories growing up in Iran. Language, specifically verbal communication, has always been challenging for me. As a child, I found solace in communicating with my hands as a way of expressing my emotions. Making art with my hands became an important path of self-discovery throughout my life.
My childhood dream was to become a great artist and to help people. It took me a long time to figure out how I was adding value to this world with my art.
Because there was no chance for me to explore art in Iran, I pursued a psychology degree instead, which was my second choice. I didn’t realize it until later, but psychology plays a very significant role in my creative process, because it is, in a way, a mode of therapy and healing for myself.
It wasn’t until I moved to the USA where I was able to finally pursue fashion design and psychology at the Art Institute of California. 3D, sculptural and textural art and collaging were the art forms that allured me and felt natural for me to create. I worked with many different mediums including clay, metal and stone. As much as I adored my sculptural pieces, I longed for something more practical and lucrative. So I challenged myself and pursued fashion design, particularly for wearable art.
My intention ever since is to create wearable art that is like healing armor that becomes a tool to give the feeling of empowerment to as many people that are ready for it. And, after becoming familiar with the feeling of empowerment in their lives, they will carry it with them so they can shine in their own worlds, touching others as they move through life.
2) What is your main source of inspiration?
I draw from both nature and human design. What better source than the infinite creativity of the natural world? And art made by humans, whether architecture, design, ritual clothing, traditional jewelry, painting, sculpture, are all a statement of who we are. Our dreams for the future are who we want to be. Before I create a new collection, I look deep inwards. I examine my greatest fears, I have conversations with my demons. I begin to bring outside the struggle within, and by so doing, overcome my fear and limitation. It is through my past, and my dreams of a better future, that give me the power to create. And it is all out of love, and self-healing.
3) What message would you like to transmit to the people who choose to wear Gelareh?
To those who wear Gelareh, I tell them, “Celebrate your freedom! Be who you are. Release yourselves from all judgments. Look and speak your truths. Look fear in the eye and defy what has been defined.”
4) Tell us a little bit about your new collection.
I have been afraid of water my whole life. When I was a child growing up in war, I did not have the opportunity to learn how to swim. The open ocean has always frightened me.
But something changed this year. Perhaps it is my work towards expression, the breakthrough I had for my last line “ERUPTION” or simply a turn of the life led by faith in myself: This year I faced my fear, and learned how to scuba dive, and traveled to Belize, where I saw a world of abundance and vitality in an alien environment, more natural than the one I live in most of the time.
This is the inspiration for LEMURIAN: I made this collection to face deep and old fears, to push through and take action to change my relationship with the world.
I discover myself through process. Process is everything. It is the pain of the knees on the floor. It is the sleepless nights. It is the constant flow of ideas weaving in and out of me. It is the joy of a piece near completion. Process is everything. And process is only led by intention.
5) What is the piece of cloth of your upcoming collection that most represents you and why.
To be honest, all of them are part of my breakthrough pieces. The first one that comes to mind is the gown I created with all of the recycled leather pieces that I gathered over many years. My tailors and I hand-cut hundreds upon hundreds of individual fish “scales,” hand-stitched one at a time. The second piece I really loved is named the Ikatere Mantle. In Māori and Polynesian mythology, Ikatere is a fish god, the father of all sea creatures. I was deeply inspired with rays during my time in Belize while I was facing my fear of the ocean and finding my peace with the underwater world.
These pieces would have never been created if I decided to quit on myself. I believe we all can make a difference in this world by doing what we love. We can use our gifts as our medicine to heal the world around us a little. And piece by piece, just like the gown, it adds up in the end.
6) In your imagination, who are the woman and the man who wear your products?
The empowered ones. The ones who feel like they have confidence. Because when someone is empowered, the realm of what is possible for them in their lives grows with no limit. Those who wear Gelareh are already powerful. They aren’t afraid to push boundaries. They are those that are gifted, compassionate, and inspired. My pieces only help to showcase their self-confidence to the world. There is no perfect man or woman to wear Gelareh. Anyone can wear my art; big or small, large or skinny– if you believe in yourself, if you believe in your own expression and seek to empower yourself, you can wear Gelareh.
7 ) If you could choose three words to describe Gelareh, what will
Armor of Empowerment
8) I discovered you by chance and I was really impressed by your pieces that for me are pure art. There is a detailed work behind and a really high quality. What are your future plans for 2019?
To grow with my team and expand awareness and appreciation of the Gelareh brand, potenitally by having a fashion show in the fall in Europe. To open my first retail store this year. To work with more television and movies. And as always, continue my personal growth. Internally, the next collection has already begun…
9) If you could mention the biggest achievement you had with Gelareh, which one will you choose?
My biggest achievement was my self-discovery as an artist, which meant embracing and using my own voice through my art. It is all about staying true to oneself and pushing through my own pain and limitations with intention and dedication. This energy of metamorphosis has transfers through my work to my clients. They wear my victory. I am grateful for them.
10) A secret dream that you want to make a-so-soon reality?
Life is energy and energy flows through everything. If I can transfer empowerment to more clients through my art, and make them feel like anything is possible by wearing my pieces, then maybe I can make a difference in this world. A huge dream of mine would be to design an outfit for Lady GaGa. I think she is a fabulous human who deserves to be dressed in incredible art, because her entire being radiates novelty and uniqueness.