Fashion Is Freedom: How a Girl from Tehran Broke the Rules to Change her World

Image of Fashion Is Freedom: How a Girl from Tehran Broke the Rules to Change her World
Release Date: 
September 5, 2016
Reviewed by: 

The author of this book suffered an unspeakable horror unlike any of us might ever imagine or experience in our lifetimes. But this book is not just about that, nor is it about fashion being her ticket out of an Islamic country. Raassi seems to have taken it upon herself to declare that she is part Betty Friedan, a wunderkind of fashion, political activist, and a genius who believes she masters every and any offered opportunity from construction renovation to branding and, of course, designing. She is in fact beating her chest in a most unflattering and frankly, underserved way in that she believes she is a one in a million international presence and prophecy of fashion. Nothing could be farther from the truth; let’s say she is a legend in her own mind.

The first half of Fashion Is Freedom is dedicated to the telling of her post Shah childhood (from age 5 to 16) in Iran. As the child of a privileged family and behaving as so many teenagers do when they opt to be rebellious there isn’t much news here. The major difference is that there were extreme consequences to her behavior, and yet despite her supposed adult and world weary perspective, she failed to grasp that she might be held accountable for that rebelliousness and that Mommy and Daddy might not be able to rescue her this time.

What she doesn’t seem to understand is that despite her supposed sophistication, she wasn’t any different from any other wannabe “grown-up” teenager no matter their location. Yes, she had the possibility of severe punishment for being who she was, but she held an American passport as she was born in the USA and not Iran. If she was such an advocate of freedom and equal rights why didn’t she urge and campaign her parents to send her abroad so that she might further her cause?

The second half and major focus of the book concerns the world of fashion. Raassi only thinks she knows fashion and obviously still hasn’t figured out that skills are learned and that talent is innate and not taught or learned. With all her “woe is me” about her travails in the world of fashion, her supposed deep understanding of this business without actually speaking to or interfacing with people of experience in the fashion business in this country is questionable. Her ideas of “high end” and so many almost inconceivably ill advised, ill-informed, and misguided ideas of the fashion business will be blatantly apparent to anyone who actually lives fashion as a profession or is fully immersed in that world. Why on earth she believes that she is some fashion prodigy is beyond this reader’s comprehension as she is nothing more than a wannabe who has been offered amazing opportunities and yet plundered the majority of them.

Any reader who takes advice from this book or takes her shallow insights and supposed facts as gospel will be severely mislead. Worse yet Fashion Is Freedom is full of self-adulation, conceit, and hubris. Her story is the story of thousands who want to be “in fashion.” Really, the “hook” of her story is her Iranian childhood. Her so-called fashion genius is based on retreads of trends that preceded her by 20 years and lots of fallacious reasoning and uneducated notions about the world of fashion.

Can we say that that Brazil is no more a fashion capital of high end clothes than Staten Island is a major tourist attraction for the world to visit? Consider this so-called statistic: that a fledgling designer always starts in fashion as an intern, which is patently false. It is hogwash like this that sets Raassi apart from her peers and is surely not due to her innate talents other than for storytelling with her as the star.

My advice to readers is that the knowledgeable might get dizzy from shaking their heads at the almost absurd insights that are offered as moments of genius. The fashion novice should certainly read this a cautionary tale rather than a fairy tale. Self-promotion does not make you a world-renowned, top shelf anything—let alone a designer!