THE YEAR THAT CHANGED MY LIFE

After de­signer ELLA BOLUKIFAR left Iran es­cap­ing op­pres­sion, she started over in Aus­tralia, with no English and just her dream of build­ing a bri­dal la­bel to sus­tain her

Harper’s Bazaar (Australia) - - Contents -

A bri­dal de­signer on why she left Iran for Aus­tralia.

“I was a 19-year-old girl in a busi­ness that in my coun­try be­longed to men. It was a con­stant bat­tle with the gov­ern­ment and with so­ci­ety in gen­eral.”

In 2017, I found the con­fi­dence to be­lieve in my own cre­ative power and re­alise that fear has no place in my life any­more. I was ready to move on from my past to live my sec­ond life in Aus­tralia, and I found it to be ab­so­lutely in­cred­i­ble. I’ve al­ways be­lieved art has no bor­ders, and I’ve learnt you can cross any line to con­tinue to do what you need to do to be happy and ful­filled.

I grew up in Iran, in an artis­tic fam­ily. My grand­fa­ther Ab­bas Bolukifar was a fa­mous painter whose work is col­lected by Iran’s na­tional art mu­se­ums. He was my in­spi­ra­tion to em­bark on my own cre­ative jour­ney. I grad­u­ated from art school at 18 and con­tin­ued my stud­ies at the Univer­sity of Art in Tehran. I opened a bri­dal gallery while I was study­ing, learn­ing through trial and er­ror and grow­ing it into a well-known brand. I put heart and soul into it for about nine years and achieved al­most all of my goals. But then things went wrong, and I had to leave the coun­try, and that life, be­hind.

I was a free-spir­ited per­son, but in Iran there are lim­its and bound­aries for ev­ery­thing.when I kicked off my jour­ney, I was a 19-year-old girl in a busi­ness that in my coun­try be­longed to men. Be­cause I had no fear, and be­cause cre­ativ­ity was in my blood, I per­sisted for nine years, but it was a con­stant bat­tle with the gov­ern­ment and with so­ci­ety in gen­eral. I was not ac­cepted as a busi­ness­woman and they would con­stantly try to shut down my shop, fine me and take my stuff away. I was born a fighter, but they made the cir­cle tighter and tighter, so in 2013 I de­cided to come to Aus­tralia.thank God I ended up here. I could not speak English when I ar­rived — couldn’t un­der­stand a word — so I started learn­ing it by bor­row­ing movies from the lo­cal li­brary with English sub­ti­tles and watch­ing them at least three times each. I would pause them to find the mean­ings of the words and to learn the way to use them in con­ver­sa­tion. After the first year here, I started mak­ing friends just through body lan­guage and smil­ing. It took me two years to learn the lan­guage and the Aus­tralian cul­ture, but after that I started to chase my dream again, and in April 2015 I be­gan work­ing for the Syd­ney bri­dal de­signer Steven Khalil.

I gained more skills and con­fi­dence dur­ing my time there help­ing to cre­ate the col­lec­tions, and last year, I de­cided it was time for me to move on and do my own thing. I be­gan to work free­lance as a gar­ment tech­ni­cian and con­sul­tant with dif­fer­ent fashion houses and, in par­al­lel, work on my own col­lec­tions. In many ways, work­ing for Steven gave me the strength to launch my own busi­ness yet again, and since then I have been work­ing di­rectly with pri­vate clients from my stu­dio in Syd­ney.

It’s been an amaz­ing jour­ney for me and I to­tally feel the cre­ative power I had in the past, but now I’m do­ing it in a coun­try that sup­ports me. I cre­ate ex­otic and unique gar­ments with fine crafts­man­ship, and I’m tar­get­ing peo­ple who as­pire to cou­ture. I de­sign spe­cial oc­ca­sion and bridal­wear un­der the name of Ella Bolukifar Cou­ture be­cause I em­ploy a cou­ture ap­proach to ev­ery­thing I do. I love us­ing un­ex­pected ma­te­ri­als and un­con­ven­tional cuts, and I tai­lor ev­ery el­e­ment of each de­sign to the in­di­vid­ual client, work­ing very closely with ev­ery woman who walks through my door. I’m not in­ter­ested in fol­low­ing trends. I am tak­ing my own path, as I have done all my life. My dream is to build my new busi­ness in this new part of the world and to make it a suc­cess. – As told to Ge­orgina Safe

Ella Bolukifar.

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