Last summer in Aspen during ArtCrush, a certain woman’s personal style caught our eye. After we saw her around town throughout the auction week, each time eloquently mixing art and fashion with an expressiveness that was all her own, we decided to see who she was. She introduced herself as Pari Ehsan, and we later found her on Instagram as @PariDust, with over 192,000 followers.
In today’s oversaturated technological playground, her partnerships with art spaces and fashion brands unfold in a unique way. Whitewall spoke with Ehsan about her role in the creative world and how she’s pioneering a new type of dialogue through contemporary visual storytelling.
WHITEWALL: Tell us a bit about your background in architecture and design, and how it led to today.
PARI EHSAN: My first job was for an architecture firm in New York City whose focus was retail architecture. That lasted a year, and then I went back to school to pursue a master’s in interior architecture. During that time, I interned for a furniture design firm in Los Angeles. We had a magical space on Melrose Place (now the Isabel Marant store), and the experiences I had there were formative on me.
Essentially, it became an experimental concept space where we would curate elements of art and design to create vignettes with the furniture. It was our own visual and sensory universe, and I thought, “This is where I want to exist.”
Those who encountered the space had a strong reaction—either completely enamored or confused and seemingly turned off. That was interesting to me. My next move would be back to New York, where the beginning of Pari Dust, my experiments in postmodern reappropriation, would unfold.
WW: How would you describe your professional role?
PE: I am the creator behind a digital platform for art and fashion, which seeks to combine the elements of our visual world in new ways. My role is to act as a creative director, producer, and vessel which celebrates the interactions and influence of art, design, and commerce and how they merge to define our ever-evolving contemporary moment.
WW: What exactly do your collaborations entail?
PE: I approach collaborations very much in the same way that I would approach an architecture project. Beginning with a dialogue, then research, conceptualizing, and gaining permission from the artists and/or institutions, gathering and constructing the elements I need to create the vision, hiring the photographer, hair and makeup, enacting the actual shoot itself, then editing and processing the images, writing the narrative, and sharing the piece.
WW: On your website, we noticed a tab called “Conversations,” which hosts interviews you’ve had with others. Tell us about the conversations you’re having with other creatives today, and what some important or recurring topics are.
PE: I’ve been having many conversations which surround the breakdown of structures and systems which are no longer serving us. How do we navigate the interim spaces where those traditional hierarchies, or maybe even support systems, cease to exist? Technology in relation to mental health and well-being is top of mind; image consumption and creation; seeing the world through the lens of our phones; work that is made to be photographed. What are the stories we are telling ourselves in reaction to the above? How can they be rewritten to support personal growth and progression? I love the dialogue that is building around subverting expectation in relation to experience.
WW: You’ve collaborated with beauty and fashion brands like La Prairie and Dior, and art spaces like the Aspen Art Museum and Desert X. What types of brands or events are you aiming to collaborate with?
PE: A dream would be to partner with UNESCO and travel to their more obscure World Heritage sites and locations with intangible cultural heritage, engaging with contemporary artists and designers through the lens of their cultural gems, and to have the series documented by CNN!
WW: Is there a recent exhibition you’ve seen, or a recent trip you’ve been on, that you’re still thinking about?
PE: I attended the opening of the Venice Biennale, which also happened to be my first time in Venice ever. The combination—an architectural masterpiece of a city floating on a lagoon, and the web of immersive art pavilions represented by country—galvanized my senses. I carry that high with me.
WW: Your presence on social media is undeniably powerful. How do you feel social media has changed the landscape of the art and fashion worlds?
PE: The short and beautiful answer is accessibility. The world of social media is our oyster to discover, share, and connect with those who share our vision. The luxury market of art and fashion is now a realm anyone may experience in some form. Traditional systems and gatekeepers have been rendered obsolete by social media, and the possibilities are wide open.