On a recent afternoon, Maryam Nassir Zadeh slipped onto the roof of her miraculous all-white Noho loft to talk on the phone about fashion and love. “In the past, I always had this tribe of female muses—all those girls who were my friends,” she said, referring to a coterie of women who percolate between the worlds of art, fashion, design, and media, like actress Hailey Benton Gates, designer Ana Kraš, and artist Maia Ruth Lee. “Of course they’re still important to me, but around March of 2018, it started to be the men who really inspired me.” Those men included: her father; the stylist and photographer Thistle Brown; her ex-husband Uday Kak; and “boyfriends, crushes, whatever,” she said. “They became the muses.”
Nassir Zadeh represents a hypnotic vision of downtown New York femininity—her crafty but refined shoes and handbags, along with her strangely sexy dresses and separates, have made her the influencer’s influencer. You can see her imprint all over womenswear brands that exist mostly on Instagram, but where those clothes feel manufactured, Nassir Zadeh’s feel anything but—they are imbued with emotion, an openness to the world, and a sensual creativity. Her materials and silhouettes suggest a mode of perennial relaxation, where sensitivity, romance, and a certain kind of spirituality merge. That, along with the spare store she opened in 2008 on the Lower East Side, have made Maryam Nassir Zadeh, like Rachel Comey and Phoebe Philo’s Celine, a womenswear brand that fashion-forward men tend to pay attention to.
Now they have more reason to do so: Nassir Zadeh is launching menswear, folding it into her spring 2021 women’s collection. She had always wanted to do menswear, she said: “Have you ever had this in life, where there’s a list of goals and dreams and things you want to do, and some of them totally drop off and you’re just like, What was I thinking? And then some of them you’re like, I still want to do that; it is so crazy that years have gone by and I’m still not doing that?” she mused. Menswear was on that list. (For the record: so is a store in LA, a store in Paris, a line of bed and bath linens, and a studio space where she can work with clothes in a more sculptural way—but all in due time.)
So even though, over the past few months, the pandemic forced Nassir Zadeh to scale back on both staff and physical space, “In my mind, and in my heart, it was more like, I have to do this, just because the world is changing so much that if I don’t commit to doing something that has been important to me, time will just keep slipping away.” Committed to producing less, she says the garments are intended to be unisex, a capsule within womenswear—and more in tune with how she’s dressing now, anyway. “Oversized things are so comfortable these days,” she said.