Our latest project focuses on motivational Iranian female figures. From entrepreneurs to designers and beyond, these women have managed to leave a lasting mark on the world. In a series of interviews we bring to you the details behind their stories of success.

In this month’s edition of The Contemporary Woman we bring to you the story of Golnaz Ashtiani.
Golnaz is a Toronto-London based fashion designer and has trained at the London College of Fashion. With her signature use of multi-fabric construction her work incorporates feminine and futuristic designs which are dabbed with a 60’s touch. In 2011 Golnaz won the Toronto Fashion Incubator’s New Labels competition and launched her eponymous label ASHTIANI shortly after. She was also awarded “best emerging designer” by Fashion magazine in October 2015.


If you were to describe yourself in a single sentence, what would it be?

I see myself as a thinker and a free spirit, a creative and a contemporary feminist.

How would you define a successful woman of the contemporary world?

We live in an exciting time; more women are now ready to take on challenges, seize new opportunities and build new empires. Success to me is making a difference while keeping a positive attitude all the time.

What launched your career? How did your interest for fashion form in the first place and how did it grow?

I have always been interested in art and history, I wanted to become a fashion designer and pursue my studies at London College of Fashion. My interest in fashion has evolved and changed over the years, what really helped define and kick-start my career was the New Labels Competition which I won in 2011. I launched my brand shortly after and have been showcasing my collections at Toronto fashion week since then.

What inspires you in life?

Experiencing life in general; I can find inspiration anywhere and in anything.

13What would you do differently if you could do it all over again?

I’d have been more strategic when setting up my brand and I would have prepared a proper business plan.
There were mistakes I made in the beginning because of not knowing how to run a business properly. I was impatient and too eager to expand. I think if I were to do it all over again I would consult experts in the field and try to be more patient in my approach.

What are some the biggest challenges you have had to overcome down the path?

My biggest challenge of all time is my perfectionism.

What piece of advice would you give to a young lady who looks to you for motivation?

Be consistent, realistic and work with a team. The era of one man shows and becoming the next John Galliano or Alexander McQueen is over. These days it’s all about team work and having a proper business plan in hand.

What are your future aspirations?

Apart from expanding ASHTIANI, I’ve also joined a unique fashion mentoring platform. I plan to mentor and provide
consultancy to emerging designers.

What distinguishes Ashtiani the brand from similar rivals? As your label website says you have been featured in some of the top fashion-focused media and also lauded as the best emerging designer and one to watch, what is it in your opinion that defines this success?

I think what set ASHTIANI apart from other brands is the consistency with the brand image, specifically the clear and cohesive looks which anyone can instantly recognize throughout the collections I’ve worked on.

When was the last time you visited Iran? How close are your ties with the country? When do you plan to visit

Last summer I visited Iran and for the first time travelled to Shiraz and Isfahan. I was so inspired that I’m planning to visit again and travel to other parts of Iran more often.


 To see more of Golnaz’s work visit her website and follow her on Instagram

unnamed-1-copy-copy Neda Monem
Neda Monem is a Tehran-based journalist, photographer and social media advisor. She covers arts, culture, society, tech and startups.
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