Spring / Summer 2021

Celebrating Inclusivity

Behnoode gives wearers an opportunity to spread the message of diversity, acceptance and inclusion, and celebrate our differences, says Behnood Javaherpour in an exclusive interview with Rashi Sen

Every now and then, a fashion brand appeals to the soul, and not just to the eye. It has a purpose that goes beyond making you look great; it makes you relevant, it makes you count. It gives voice to the unheard recesses of society and questions shame, bias and bigotry.

Behnoode is one such luxury fashion label, which came into the spotlight this Arab Fashion Week for its bold and revolutionary gender-neutral collection. Its capsule androgynous collection titled Masculine Femininity doesn’t create a distinction between the masculine and feminine, and expresses a non-binary gender identity. The brand has the potential to completely shake up the fashion scene in the Middle East with its powerful social statement.

It gives wearers an opportunity to spread the message of diversity, acceptance and inclusion, and celebrate our differences, all while looking like a million bucks.

“I believe style should elevate the character you project to the world,” says Behnood Javaherpour, the 34-year-old Founder and Creative Director of Behnoode, and Founder of Behnoode Foundation. “Perception is reality and my clothes should represent you in a luxurious, dapper, stylish manner.

“My style is classic and timeless, with an artistic twist. My fashion is about celebrating inclusivity and diversity as well as gender neutrality,” he tells us from his home in Paris.

This inclusivity and diversity of races, creed and colour extends to plus sizes as well, with the designer telling us, “My brand caters to all sizes and most of my clients have tailor-made suits. I will create clothes for all sizes.”

Indeed, Behnoode is popular among young professionals all over the Middle East but the designer himself tells us, “anyone who values style and elegance” would appreciate his designs and is his potential customer. “Behnoode is about the distinguished and connoisseur consumer who values bespoke tailoring,” he explains. The brand retails in Paris, Hong Kong and Dubai in exclusive outlets, while the online team is currently working on its website, which should be live soon.

Javaherpour grew up in a household of creativity and colour – his passion for art and design developed very early on in his life. His passions include horse riding, and he has an adventurous side that takes him rock, ice and mountain climbing.

Born into a family involved in design and textiles in Tehran, Iran, he had an early start as an artist. His father was the pioneer of designing and producing camping equipment. Behnood’s mother was an antique dealer who was also involved in the thriving textile world. Drawing and painting became second nature to him and he loved his little sketch book, which he used to take everywhere with him.

Behnood spent his primary school years in Tehran and learnt about the different materials and fabrics from his dad’s trade. He fell in love with the world of textiles and fabrics and started doing collage boards with different coloured materials to make garments for his sketches.

“I’m inspired by medieval knights,” he tells us. “These are gentleman-soldiers, usually high-born, raised by a sovereign to privileged military status after training as a page and squire. Their regal and elite chivalry in society and their high ethical standards to serve and protect their kingdom is inspiring for me.”

Behnood always had a special eye for fashion and was very curious and observant of the outfits people wore around him. He started to develop his passion for fashion as he grew into a teenager and believed strongly that he can have a major influence in this industry. He believed that due to socio-economic situation, Iranians were limited in their choices of clothing and that they became very distant and estranged with the world of fashion. He wanted to change that and the only way to do it was to master the industry through knowledge and experience.

Behnood moved to Italy at the age of 17 and while studying, he also started working with local tailors learning the trade during his vacations. This experience was a huge learning curve for Behnood as he was able to learn the tricks of the trade and gain the confidence required to create garments. He started designing and tailoring outfits and this became a full-time job after he finished high school.

Behnood furthered his education at the Politecnico di Milano where he studied International Business and then he went on to Instituto Marangoni to continue his passion and enthusiasm for fashion. He graduated in 2005 and by then his label Behnoode was established in Napoli. After years of successful business in Italy, Behnood has extended his brand into the Middle Eastern market where his outfits are popular among the young professionals.

Behnood is fully committed to producing high quality, fun and unique designs for the global fashion industry. “For men, my favourite piece of clothing is a jacket. For women, it’s the scarf. For accessories, it’s the pocket square. For shoes, it’s Behnoode shoes, of course.”

Accessories aside, perhaps the most important thing of all is to be proud of oneself, says Behnood (which means ‘power’). “It’s about owning your own strength – and what could be more powerful than a ‘power suit’?” asks the designer.

Earlier this year, Behnoode unveiled a rare collector’s item art piece jacket in collaboration with award-winning Chinese artist Wang Yuyang. Priced at €340,000, it is a unique piece. Launched virtually, this new collector’s item art piece jacket called ‘Woman in a Mirror’, is Yuyang’s tribute to the rich Chinese culture and heritage.

“As my brand expands globally, there is no better way to explore new avenues of creativity than to visit the rich culture and design aesthetics of the Chinese. This culture has always fascinated me with its complex process and methodology towards the arts. It’s something I am always inspired about,” he adds. 

Speaking of inspiration, the designer also heads The Behoonde Art Foundation, which is based in Paris and was established in 2016. “The objective is to promote talented artists from around the world and give them a global platform. We also incorporate artists paintings onto Behnoode Jackets and transform them in ‘Art Collectors’ pieces.

“The Behnoode Art Foundation also selects prominent artists and under its patronage, the artists’ works are showcased in museums around the world. We recently did an art exhibition in Tehran promoting the works of talented Iranian artists.

“The inspiration for The Behoonde Art Foundation came from an expedition trip to Nepal, when I was on my way to the Everest base camp. I also support children’s charities in Nepal and Kashan Iran,” hs says. Behnoode Art Foundation provides free art classes to underprivileged children to pursue and develop their creative and artistic skills. It provides an opportunity to develop talent, educate and spotlight future artists on a global platform.

The designer, who considers Persian poet Rumi as one of his strong inspirations, quotes him: “My religion is love. Every heart is my temple.” And he takes great pride in spreading this simple, yet profound message of inclusion through his designs.  

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