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Fashion is Freedom

Fashion is Freedom

Book Review - Fashion is Freedom: How a Girl from Tehran Broke the Rules to Change her World

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I really struggled to decide how many stars I wanted to give this book. On one hand, Tala Raassi has a fascinating story worthy of sharing with the world. She lived through quite a bit in Tehran and has a strong message for women worldwide. On the other hand, she chose to share that story in Fashion is Freedom: How a Girl from Tehran Broke the Rules to Change her World in a very tidy, glossy story that could be reduced to a formula: 

The formula:

  1. Tala needs a diamond
  2. Tala sees something shiny
  3. A sketchy-looking man in bad clothes tells her that shiny object is a diamond
  4. Tala needs a bucket full of money to mine the diamond
  5. Tala has a friend with a bucket full of money and gives it to her to mine the diamond
  6. Tala spends a bucket full of money to mine the diamond only to discover that it is actually worthless
  7. Tala still needs a diamond
  8. Repeat steps 1-6

I think I get what she wanted to convey but I don't think it was executed as well as it could have been. I thought this book would be more of a rags to riches story - and it definitely started out that way. What Tala had to endure in Tehran is heartbreaking and as a result she moved to the United States and started a fashion company with a strong, powerful message. However, she really glosses over the struggles she faced in life and business. She also had a lot of privileges and advantages. Tala conveniently had a US passport when she needed to leave Tehran, her parents were very wealthy and had money to payoff whoever needed to be paid, and she conveniently had friends who were always willing to give her money. She made a lot of mistakes and poor choices but she rarely had to endure the consequences of those choices, and if she did endure the consequences she chose not to go into depth about the real struggle. She made it seem as if after experience a setback, the very next day all of her crushed dreams were saved by another well-off friend.

PSA: Do not, under any circumstances, listen to this book on Audible. Usually I advocate listening to memoirs and autobiographies on Audible if they are read by the author, but in this case the production value was so low that it was truly awful to listen to.

I read this book along with my student reading group. We met every two weeks over the course of this semester to discuss the book and relate it to our lives and other classes my students are taking. (In addition to this book, we also read In The Name of Gucci by Patricia Gucci.) So in addition to my review, I wanted to share what some of my students had to say about this book:

I learned a lot from Fashion is Freedom. First of all, Tala is an inspiration. To stick up for herself and go against her government, and flee to a different country takes courage. From her story I learned the importance of standing up for myself and what I believe in. Tala never gave up, many of her ventures and ideas fell through and didn’t work out but she continued to follow her dreams of owning her fashion line. That being said, I also learned the importance of planning ahead. Tala would come up with an idea and just go with it without thinking of important aspects of a clothing line such as choosing a vendor or writing up contracts. It is clear that Tala is a hard worker who knows what she believes in and isn’t afraid to stand up for herself, Fashion is Freedom is a good read for anyone who is interested in fashion and feminism.
— Briana
While reading this book, I learned that nothing comes easy as much as people make it seem. GREAT results come from many mistakes and failures, they create character. With me graduating from college soon, the things she went through and relating them to my own experiences allowed me to give myself even more motivation to excel in the fashion industry.
What I liked most about this book were her clichés and quotes. This really allowed you to reflect even on your own experiences and how you may feel towards your life currently. I could relate to a lot of the things she learned. I am even still learning and was happy to be inspired by her experiences.
What I did not like about this book, was just her writing skills. Her story could have been written in a better way to where it wasn’t so all over the place. I also wish she had talked more about her past before coming to the US. I wanted to learn more about that before all her success came.
— Kiara
From this book, I have learned more about how capable fashion is at creating a sense of freedom and empowerment within women. Tala’s story about coming to America and being amazed that people can wear what they want to convey a certain identity they want to portray has made me realize how fortunate I have been. I have always looked to fashion to express who I am and what kind of person I want to be seen as, but I have always looked at it as an assumed right every human has living on this earth. In this book, I liked hearing about her life in Iran the most (section 1), as upsetting and wrong as it seemed. I never have known what it is like in Iran or to live with these rules of enforced dress until now. The parts I disliked in the book had to do with her seemingly unaware belief that she is owed success. Even though she comes from a country where she was lashed 40 times for something tons of people around the world have done before, she has always lived a somewhat lavish lifestyle and when her businesses failed, she seemed to dismiss it like it was not her fault and she could not understand why it happened to her. For someone who talks about her successes as being something she worked hard for and deserved, I just would have hoped to see that same ownership over her failures.
— Emily
Two things I leaned from Fashion is Freedom: How a Girl from Tehran Broke the Rules to Change her World is that finding and seizing opportunities is very important, and don’t be afraid to express myself.
When Tala Raassi lived in Iran, she wasn’t afraid to wear a miniskirt to show her idea of fashion even if this might cause her to be thrown in jail. And when a sponsor wanted to support her small business in school, she didn’t hesitate to seize the opportunity and express her opinion in her idea about fashion and plan for her future career path.
One thing I like most about this book is that at the end of each chapter, she summarized the chapter using very powerful sentences and tones. This enlightened me and made me have an emotional connection with the author. At the end of chapter 14, “I created the freedom I needed to explore my options further. You just have to do what you have to do. Even when it’s scary!” This quote represents her thoughts about catching opportunities and encourages the reader to not be scared about the future. Since I am going to graduate soon, I am confused and scared about my future. This gives me confidence and encourages me to just do my best.
Although the book is inspirational, one thing I don’t like about this book is that the author thought she knew all about fashion. Her idea about “high end” fashion and business strategies is not very convincing.
— Yu

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive compensation if you make a purchase using this link. Thank you for supporting this blog and the books I recommend!

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive compensation if you make a purchase using this link. Thank you for supporting this blog and the books I recommend! I may have received a book for free in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.
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