Born and raised in Tehran, Tannaz Barkhordari moved to New Zealand in 2010 to study at Whitecliffe College of Art & Design after completing her degree in textile engineering at Azard University in Iran. Some of her earliest memories are of her grandmother, or ‘Mamani’, sewing clothes, pillowcases, and curtains on a treadle. “She never threw anything out,” said Barkhordari.
Continuing in this vein, Barkhordari works in-house with a small team and a few interns to create her work, often sewing garments herself to retail under the name Tannaz Boutique. “Sewing taught me self-confidence, the importance of patience and self-control, and improved my confidence,” she told Apparel. “I love designing, but at the same time sewing can help me to design.”
She strives to create “timeless, high-quality garments that are designed to last.” It’s clear from Barkhordari’s passion that she is not merely jumping on the sustainability bandwagon, as she speaks powerfully about the need for change at an industry-wide level. “While the price we pay for clothing has sharply decreased, the human and environmental costs have grown dramatically,” she said. “The insatiable appetite for cheap clothing has resulted in the exploitation of millions of workers around the world.”
Citing designers like Hussein Chalayan and Stella McCartney as figures of inspiration, Barkhordari enjoys combining ideas from her Iranian heritage with contemporary styles. “I was fortunate enough to move to this beautiful country with beautiful people,” she said. “I want to show people about my culture as well, through prints, colours, and patterns, and let people know the Middle East is not what most people believe it to be.”
This collection has an important connection to Minimalism art where abstract forms are divided by lines, creating shapes that are two or three dimensional. Her practice seeks to concentrate on specific shapes, patterns and fabrics rather than on the purpose of accentuating the shape of the body. It translates the important elements of minimalism through the use of clean, simple lines and geometric shapes to create functional, yet sculptural garments. The idea of structure and neat forms, as well as scale and volume, were to reference the similarities between minimalist sculpture and fashion.
This collection also draws from a tradition of minimalist abstraction in the Persian culture in Iran, which is present in art, architecture and textile design. The simplicity and geometric shapes of minimalist sculpture inspired her to look at Persian Gabbeh carpets. The patterns and colours of the flat weave of Gabbeh handwoven rugs have many similarities to minimalism. The colour and texture of Gabbeh are referenced in the collection through the use of thick cashmere and wool fabric, dyed yarn and handmade crochet and a tonal palette of beige-pink, burgundy and cream.
“I have developed a project to provide work for Iranian women who have a strong desire to change their lives,” Barkhordari added. “Talented women who live in different tribes in my country have made bags for my collection, and this provides and enables them to grow confident and gain respect, as well as receive payment for their craft and skills.”