This year marks the tenth anniversary of Behnaz Sarafpour's namesake collection. The Parsons grad had done her time in the fashion trenches—at Anne Klein, Richard Tyler, Narciso Rodriguez, Isaac Mizrahi and Barney's New York—before launching her own label in 2001. Known for marrying feminine tailoring with unusual materials, the Behnaz Sarafpour brand quickly became a favorite among fashionable celebs such as Alexis Biedel, Katie Cassidy, Michelle Williams, Emmy Rossum, Michelle Trachtenberg, Chloe Sevigny, Anne Hathaway, Claire Danes, Ashley Olsen and Selma Blair.
"I've wanted to be a fashion designer since I was a child but I didn't know that I really could until I moved to New York," the Iranian-born, Philadelphia-bred designer told us. "I liked the social aspect, in the sense that it interacts so intimately with peoples lives."
Sarafpour was nominated for the CFDA Swarovski Award (then called the Perry Ellis Award) in 2002, 2003 and 2005, was a CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalist in 2004, designed the first-ever Target Go International collaboration in 2006, and also created denim for Ernest Sewn and a limited-edition lipstick for Lancome. For the last few years, Sarafpour has quietly been using sustainable and environmentally friendly materials (cherry pit buttons and embellished rattan textiles, anyone?), and in 2010 she was named one of the fashion design finalists for the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award and honored at the White House.
"I hate pollution in general and I just want to do my part to show people a side of luxury fashion that promotes a clean way of living and celebrates natural resources," Sarafpour says of her under-the-radar eco-chic mission, which recently included designing a stylish raffia bracelet that was featured on Fashion Me Green.
The Fashion Informer's Lauren David Peden chatted with the gracious brunette recently about The Great Gatsby, Charlotte Gainsbourg and gardening (to name just a few of her favorite things).
What's your favorite getaway spot?
Our farmhouse in New Jersey.
Ocean or mountains?
What's usually on your nightstand?
A very colorful photo by Craig McDean and my phone.
What's your favorite book of all time?
The Great Gatsby. As a designer I think I especially pick up on the part fashion plays in establishing the people's character.
Who would play you in the movie of your life?
Charlotte Gainsbourg would be flattering.
Tell me about your pet(s).
I'm a gardener, my plants are my pets.
What was your nickname when you were a kid, and what's your nickname now?
My parents have always called me Naz and now people just call me B.
Do you have any hidden or unusual talents?
I speak Farsi.
What's your favorite store in the world?
The Astier de Villatte store in Paris; I can't go to Paris without buying something there.
What's the one beauty/grooming product you can't live without?
Pure rose water.
Tell me about your favorite piece of jewelry/clothing and why it's so special to you.
A diamond and emerald necklace that has been passed down to me from my great grandmother. It is made in a very primitive way and every woman who owned it before me made a change to it.
How often do you get back to Philadelphia and how has it changed since you lived there?
Not too often. I think the city is much nicer now.
What part of your job do you like the best—and least?
Best: Working with textiles. Least: Working on budgets.
What never fails to make you cry?
When are you happiest?
When I realize I've just had a good idea!