Once Imprisoned by Iran’s Religious Police for Wearing a Miniskirt, This DC Bikini Designer is Now Writing a Memoir

Photograph by courtesy Tala Raassi.

Some kids receive a new car for their sixteenth birthday. Tala Raassi was given 40 lashes. After Iran’s religious police raided her Sweet Sixteen party, at which Raassi wore a miniskirt, Raassi and her friends were dragged to prison. Raassi was then whipped for her “indecent” clothing.

This moment was a catalyst for change in Raassi’s life. After her release, her parents sent her to Dubai before she moved to DC to live with relatives. Her experience of having her fashion choices limited in Iran helped to solidify the idea in her mind that fashion equals freedom, and that’s why Raassi went on to launch a swimwear company, Dar Be Dar, and now, to tell her story in a new book.

The book will be titled Fashion Is Freedom. Raassi says the memoir will cover everything from her upbringing in Iran to her move to America to the launch of her company and her work with the Miss Universe Pageant. She also says that her motivation to write the book is twofold: one, to show Western readers another side of Iran through her childhood experiences.

“I walk the readers through the streets of Iran as a modern woman who grew up there,” says Raassi. “It was important for me that people didn’t only associate Iran with the government.”

Two, Raassi wants to inspire other women to follow their dreams.

“I wanted to show girls that the road to success is hard, but with passion and motivation, anything is possible,” she says. “If I came from a place that I had to cover myself to becoming a swimwear designer who designed swimwear for the Miss Universe pageant, then everything is possible.”

Fashion is Freedom is slated for a release in September.

Associate Editor

Caroline Cunningham joined Washingtonian in 2014 after moving to the DC area from Cincinnati, where she interned and freelanced for Cincinnati Magazine and worked in content marketing. She currently resides in College Park.