Behnaz Sarafpour + Jennifer Siebel Newsom Team Up for Friday Fashion Benefit


We suspect an opportunity to shop in the name of women’s empowerment and mingle with First Lady Jennifer Siebel Newsom and New York-based designer Behnaz Sarafpour on Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. may prompt more than a few local fashion fans to table their workday obligations in favor of a lengthy lunchtime excursion.

A benefit for Siebel Newsom’s documentary Miss Representation exploring the misrepresentation of powerful women by the mainstream media, the trunk show event at Wilkes Bashford brings Sarafpour’s fall 2010 collection to San Francisco and offers a chance to chat with the designer while perusing the tailored, feminine, versatile pieces she debuted earlier this year at New York Fashion Week.

We caught up with Sarafpour recently to chat about the film, her Twitter habits and her favorite restaurant in San Francisco.

You're based in New York. How did you get involved with Miss Representation in San Francisco?

I met Jennifer Newsom when she came to my fashion show in New York, and she waited after the runway show to meet me. It was really a pleasure to get to know her. We just said that we would keep in touch. The Mitchell family, their stores, we’ve been working with for a few seasons on the East Coast. When they came into San Francisco, that kind of prompted us to do this event with them.

I was keeping in touch with Jennifer, and she told me about this film that she was working on and, as a designer and as woman, I found it very interesting….It’s all about the perception of women in media and in public life. In fashion, that’s something you’re so aware of: the fashion choices a woman makes. They’re very telling of what she’s trying to say with her image and how she’s perceived publicly.

Is there any advice from your own experience that you’d give to aspiring businesswomen today?

I think that, you know, as a woman, you really have to be driven to excel in the industry and work with other women and work with other men. There aren’t really enough women to rely on for mentorship. It’s really dependent on how driven a woman is.

Tell us about your fall 2010 collection.

There’s a great deal of sportswear in the collection, and there’s a great deal of day wear. We really focused a lot on separates that were really versatile and that could be mixed in lots of ways…The textures and color palette, I wanted to keep it very timeless…there are a lot of things that really kind of show a broad range and mix beautifully together. Anything from lightweight silks to mohair: things that are very transitional, because we dress women all over the world.

Are there any ways your most recent collection is a departure from what you’ve done in the past?

For us this time, it was very much about combinations of things, because I wanted to make such a point about how you can mix different fabrics together and different textures together.

You list celebrities from Jessica Simpson to Angie Harmon as muses on your web site. That’s a pretty diverse array. Are there any unifying characteristics or special qualities that your muses have in common?

I like women that have a sort of youthfulness to their attitude and to their approach, but at the same time have a kind of elegance about them, and I think that that’s something that all those women have in common.

You’re on Facebook and Twitter. How has social media changed or influenced the way you work?

I think that it’s become another outlet for everyone to keep in touch. Technology, in general, has made such a huge different in the way the world operates and the way the world works, but it’s really made a difference in the fashion industry. A lot of people follow it. It’s almost become a second to Hollywood in terms of entertainment. It becomes an other outlet that has made what goes in the fashion industry and behind the scenes more accessible to those that enjoy following it.

Do you enjoy tweeting?

I don’t think I am very good at tweeting because I have to ask myself, is it presumptuous to assume that what I’m doing today is interesting to others? I really have to think about it.

What really excites you about the fashion world today?

The thing that always keeps fashion fresh and interesting to me is that it’s always kind of changing and evolving. It’s not the same month after month, and there are not two seasons that are the same. It keeps the industry really exciting, and it keeps you on your toes…You know if you have a great collection, you can’t rest on your laurels. You’re going to have to prove yourself again in six months. That constant change is probably the only thing that is never changing in fashion

During your visit this week, are there any favorite spots in San Francisco that you plan to visit?

I have a favorite restaurant that I go to at least once, if not two or three times, whenever I am in San Francisco. Boulette’s Larder in the Ferry Building.

I am hoping to go to Bodega Bay. I am a huge fan of old movies, and I love Hitchcock films, and I’ve always loved The Birds. I’ve always wanted to go to Bodega Bay and see if it looks like what it looks like in the movie.

Behnaz Sarafpour trunk show takes place at Wilkes Bashford Friday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sarafpour and Siebel Newsom will be at the store on Friday from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

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