The Artist’s Way

Seen and Herd took a trip out to L.A. to do a little business and enjoy a little pleasure.  Catching up with old friends, we headed to the succulent desert paradise of the Huntington Botanical Garden to create some colorful images with Frida Kahlo as our inspiration. Who could handle such a task? Only our favorite outspoken, Persian fashion diva, Parisa Parnian. Parisa had us in a lush tropical trance. Jorge Köngsberg captured the beautiful images.

Seen & Herd: Your photo shoot setting is in a succulent garden, Can you tell us a little bit about your relationship to deserts and succulents?

Parisa Parnian: I grew up in the vast and arid lands of Arizona. When I wanted to dream and escape the world as a child, I would sit for hours and stare into the horizon of the deserts that surrounded my home and find tremendous inspiration in the colors, textures, and intangible energy that desert plants, animals and sky would provide me.

SNH: Frida Kahlo was your muse, what qualities do you admire and share with the late great painter?

PP: … her sense of self, her ability to use the pains, trials and tribulations of her life to feed her artistic expression. She was not a classic beauty, but her fierce, strong features and the way she carried herself …

SNH: If you could be an artist in any other era, would you go to the past or future? What would this idealized reality look like to you? What would be your vessel?

PP: As cliché as it may sound, I can imagine myself as part of Parisian salons of the 1930’ s and 1940’ s—I can see myself being amongst the provocative women of that era, such as Anais Nin and Maya Deren. I would be a multi-media artist and weave stories between words, costumes, and film. I am also intrigued by the group of immensely talented and visionary fashion designers, set designers, photographers who made up the Théâtre de la Mode—a community of creators who managed to bring couture to the world despite the horrors of World War II.

SNH: How would you describe your style?

PP: My style is constantly evolving with where I am in my life both personally and professionally. I am eclectic, colorful, bold, and somewhat provocative in the way I “ fashion” myself. It’s almost a backlash to my childhood…being the uni-browed, Iranian, immigrant kid at an all-white grade school and wanting to fit in…After years of trying to fit in and not succeeding, I finally decided to embrace my unique physical outer self and go the other direction…accentuate what made me different. Currently, I am feeling a blend of modern gypsy meets Studio 54 meets Bianca Jagger with a twist of Frida thrown in for good measure.

SNH: Where do you go for inspiration? Who are some of your favorite artists working today?

PP: I go to creative, experimental visual and performative events to get my imagination going. I go to exhibits, flea markets, random dusty stores in the middle of nowhere and glorious high-end boutiques to soak in color, texture, design. I look online for images that stir me. I look around me at the friends and acquaintances I keep for inspiration and stimulation as well.

SNH: You’re a queer fashion mogul and a celebrity in your own right… tell us about Rigged Outfitters?

PP:  RIGGED OUT/fitters was a clothing and lifestyle brand I created that was inspired by the subversive, gender-queer fashion and aesthetic that made up a particular population of the Brooklyn and San Francisco queer underground from about 2000 to 2008.  It was about gender-fuck and taking labels that were once used in a derogatory way (dyke, queer, dirty) and mashing them up with rock and punk-inspired graphics and vintage men’s styling to create a fresh look.

SNH: Any thoughts on queer influence on current trends fashion?

PP: Have you heard of Justin Bieber?  Just kidding!  Queer influence has now and in the past been a big influence in fashion trends.  Let’s not forget (for better or worse) that the sideways trucker hat look copped by Von Dutch was first spotted at the dyke parties in Williamsburg back in 2001.  Holla!
Currently, the androgynous trend is back and a lot of high fashion magazines are playing off the gender-queerness of putting masculinity on women and femininity on men.

SNH: Any business advice for small fashion start-ups?

PP: 1- Really understand the reality of who you are trying to market to and what they would/wouldn’t be willing to spend their money on
2- Be unique but accessible to the people you want to cater to
3- Make sure you understand how much profit you need to make after you pay all the expenses of running the business and put that number in your top goals
4- Fashion editors, photographers, bloggers, and facebook fans are very important and free ways to get the word out about your brand and products
5- Persevere and realize it takes a lot of hard work and sacrifice to make your small business grow.

SNH: What’s your spirit animal?

PP: The Phoenix Bird

SNH: Recently the queer Muslim women’s community was victim of an on-line infiltrator, any words for this perpetrator and his activity?

PP: Yes! check out Jen Camper’s new blog to get every thing I think about this blogger hoax thru the eyes of a middle-eastern gay woman.

SNH: Your current position?

PP: Senior Designer, Menswear @ G by Guess.

SNH: What would you say are an artists biggest obstacles to happiness?

PP: Balancing the need for self-indulgence and pragmatic/practical choices in life.  Figuring out how to make a living as an artist without compromising one’s core values.  Carving out time to be creative when involved in any sort of relationship/relating to others = carving out time to be an artist.


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About KHH

Kelly Horrigan is a fashion designer and educator. Through her company KHH | Kelly Horrigan Handmade she creates one-of-a-kind leather designs that combine old-world techniques with modern aesthetic. She earned her BFA in fashion design and has since been a professor at Pratt Institute’s fashion department. Her work has been worn by Janet Jackson, featured in the pages of the Fader, Surface, Fiasco Homme and Velvetpark Magazine, The New York Times and seen on NBC's The Voice, here!TV and Bravo TV. For more info visit
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