Renowned UAE-based designer Nazzy Beglari is making waves on the global stage as she prepares to showcase her ikat kaftans and reversible coats at the prestigious Asia NOW art fair in Paris this autumn. As the sole representative from the Middle East in this esteemed group, Beglari feels immense pride to represent the region and be chosen for her craft.
For Nazzy Beglari, it's all about the fabric. "The ikat fabric I use is the star, and I'm the supporting actor," she shares in our exclusive interview. "I don't design until I see the fabrics. Their textures, the way they move, the meaning of each of their motifs—these are the elements that dictate the design and, ultimately, how I express myself."
Each of Beglari's creations is a masterpiece of "wearable art." She skillfully combines tie-dyed hand-loomed ikat from master weavers in Uzbekistan, India, Japan, and Thailand. "The motifs are bold and exaggerated, so we use those fabrics for maxi coats, which allows the motif to shine and be appreciated."
Beglari is committed to a "no waste" philosophy. She emphasizes, "We save all the bits and pieces of textiles and reincorporate them as lining for the cuffs, collars, or in any other creative way we can reuse them. Every kaftan dress is like a collage of at least six different textiles. We cannot duplicate the exact same dresses or coats even if we try—the end result is always different, and every piece is unique."
Notably, celebrities like Isabella Rossellini, Tilda Swinton, and even Martin Scorsese have been seen wearing the NAZZY label. "We never give our designs to actors and famous people asking them to walk the red carpet or do marketing for us on social media. If they post our designs on Instagram, as Isabella Rossellini has done, it's simply because they want to. They buy from us, which makes me happy knowing that, although they have free access to all the best fashion brands, they come to us."
Growing up with her grandmother's collection of ikat and suzani textiles profoundly impacted Beglari. "When I first traveled to Uzbekistan in 2012 and saw the ikat textiles and the labor-intensive production, it was an emotional moment, not only because of the exquisite beauty of the work but also because it reminded me of my grandmother's collection and her home in Tehran."
Beglari's mantra is "buy less but buy quality." She tells us the importance of timelessness in style, contrasting it with the fast-paced, trend-driven fashion industry. "The insistence on constantly reinventing 'it' colors or fashion trends contributes to overconsumption, waste, and, ultimately, the environmental crisis."
NAZZY maintains an ethical approach to fashion, shunning the use of plastic and ensuring fair treatment of weavers and the team. With the production being limited NAZZY does not adhere to the fashion industry's seasonal cycle.
Beglari, who is based in the UAE, uniquely finds inspiration in cultural commonalities rather than differences. "Every country has a culture that inspires me. When you see the world from this perspective, you'll be pleasantly surprised to see how art is like a thread connecting us together."
As the Asia NOW art fair approaches, Nazzy Beglari leaves us with anticipation: "I hope visitors will look at these works with open hearts, thinking about people from the Silk Road who have imagined these beautiful textiles, have colored the threads and woven them by hand, one knot at a time. That will help them to understand, appreciate, and enjoy them."