Amid the bazaars, mosques and palaces of Tehran, Tara Zadeh conceptualised her eponymous handbag label. The American-born, Parisian-raised designer loves travelling, naming Thailand and Egypt among her favourite destinations.
After graduating Parsons School of Design, Tara worked in editorial as an art director for Whitewall and Gentleman's Journal. While on holiday with her husband in Tehran, she reconnected with the city and decided to launch her brand. Although it's her familial roots that tie her to Tehran, she returns for cultural inspiration and the emerging art scene.
How does Tehran inspire your brand?
The landscape, colours, patterns, and the smell when you enter the bazaar. Everything touches me in some way.
What is the most unexpected part about Tehran?
People have such a strong idea of what Tehran is like thanks to the media, but you have to go there and spend time with young people to see the reality. That's how I found out about the underground scene of music gigs, fashion shows and parties.
Where is your favourite place to wake up?
My grandmother's house! Otherwise, Mashhad Hotel, just in front of the former US embassy. It's charming, central and the food is excellent.
Divan. My favourite dish is koobideh, which is basically a kebab made from ground lamb served with saffron rice. The décor is also pretty cool, with a mix of old and new furniture and interesting artwork.
Most beautiful place?
Golestan Palace is hands down my favourite place in Tehran. It is the former royal Qajar complex and is a wonderful embodiment of Persian architecture. One of my favourite rooms is Diamond Hall, where the walls and ceiling are completely covered in mirrors.
Young designers - their creations are quite oriental and feel unique.
Where should we shop?
The Friday Bazaar. It's absolutely huge and you can find anything you want - it's an experience in itself.
Who are three people changing the scene?
Women, women, women! Today, 75% go to university and they take part in all sorts of activities - even those usually reserved for men, such as boxing and car racing. Iranian women truly are astonishing.
How should we spend 24 hours in the city?
The Abgineh Museum is a must. The building and gardens are lovely, while they also have an amazing glassware and ancient ceramic collection. The grand bazaar is huge and an absolute must. It's a maze of corridors with each one specialising in different goods - you'll need a couple hours there. Then head to Golestan Palace.
What is your most cherished memory of Tehran?
Summers spent at my grandparents' house in a northerly part of Tehran called Fereshte, which my grandmother designed in the 1970s. I used to go every summer, but now I prefer going during spring time when it's cooler and the flowers are in blossom. When we were very young we used to hang out at the house, spend our days in the pool eating rose and saffron ice cream.
What's in your SUITCASE?
A scarf, alas! A very nice coat too, because the competition is tough; the girls all wear very unique ones.
How would you describe the fashion scene in Tehran?
Thriving, with lots of talented young designers such as Vaqa and Reza Nadimi.
Give us an insider tip for when we're in town.
Visit some of the city's best art galleries in the centre such as Ab/Anbar. It's one of my favourites.
Are there any day trips away from the city you would recommend?
Visit the old houses in the city of Kashan and ski in Shemshak, about 63km from Tehran.