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Mariam Poorsalehi

Occasionwear brand Ispirato’s head of design tells Ruth Faulkner why her customers demanded a high summer collection.

Did you always want to work in fashion?

My father was a self-taught architect; he designed and built many of our homes so from a very early age I was interested in design. Also, my mother would make me these terrible dresses to wear to parties in the 1970s, and I thought ‘I can do better than this’, so I guess a fashion designer is what I always wanted to be.

What influences your design?

I’m always switched on, taking inspiration from the most unlikely places. I visit New York every season and it’s just brilliant for vintage – the sewing and patterning techniques from the 1940s and 1950s are just amazing. I also have some fantastic fabric suppliers that I work very closely with, who are brilliant at interpreting our ideas into fabulous fabrics.

Can you explain the concept behind Ispirato’s newly launched high summer range?

We’re in tune with our customers’ needs and requirements so we’ve decided to alter our ranges, moving away from the traditional autumn/winter and spring/summer collections in favour of two exciting new ranges for 2012 – a spring/summer collection and an equally opulent high summer collection.

How will it differ from the spring 12 range?

The high summer range will still have the Ispirato handwriting. Our stockists have told us that customers come into their stores in May and June and want to see the latest styling, something new that has just arrived, and so this is a gap in the market we feel we need to fill.

What are the important things to bear in mind when designing occasionwear, compared with designing other types of ranges?

As a fairly new brand we are evolving our collections to meet the needs of the consumer. Our garments have to be a good investment. We also take into account that our garments must be very wearable and practical enough to wear to other events after their initial intended purpose.

What trends does Ispirato’s ranges include for spring 12 and high summer?

Stretch taffeta makes a welcome return but with a twist for 2012. Shades of crushed berry, diamond dust and garnet are new additions. Elegant cloqué and satin also feature in feminine pastels embellished with stylish trimmings and glamorous brooches. In contrast, floaty georgettes in rich jewel tones lend softness to the collection.

What would be your dream occasionwear outfit?

I’d use couture-worthy silk fabrics, ideally ruched as this is a hot trend, and embellished with exquisite Swarovski beading and crystals, teamed with an amazing fascinator.

Who would you most like to dress in one of your designs?

I’d love to dress Kate Middleton for Royal Ascot; she’s become hugely inspirational in the fashion and style stakes. She looked so amazing on her wedding day and it’s wonderful she chose a British designer for her beautiful dress. 

  • Mariam Poorsalehi is head of design at occasionwear brand Ispirato

Quickfire questions



If you had to wear one outfit for the rest of your life, what would it be?

The three-quarter length sleeve stretch taffeta dress that’s an iconic style in our summer range. It takes you from day to evening.

What’s your biggest fashion splurge?

A cashmere Armani Collezioni coat.

Whose personal style do you most admire?

Kate Winslet

Kate Winslet

Actress Kate Winslet is always immaculate; she looks amazing on the red carpet and brings glamour to every event she goes to.

Valentino SS12

Valentino SS12

If you could take control of any fashion house for a day, which would it be?

I’d love to work at couture houses such as Valentino (pictured) or Elie Saab.





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