When she left her native Iran, Elahe Saeidi thought she wanted to study computer science. But then she discovered CHES's master's program in textiles.
Elahe Saeidi has always had a passion for sewing and design, but only after she came to the U.S. did she discover her exceptional talent and all the places it could take her.
Currently a clothing, textiles and interior design master’s candidate, Elahe began making her own clothes at a young age. She took private sewing and design classes while studying for her bachelor’s degree in computer science at Shiraz Azad University in Iran.
She and her husband, Behrouz, married in their hometown of Shiraz in July 2010. Just 10 days later, they were on their way to the U.S., where Behrouz would enter the doctoral program in physics at The University of Alabama.
“It was very hard,” says Elahe. “I was a young newlywed in a new country and spoke very little English. The day we walked into our new apartment, the only thing in it was our four suitcases.”
Behrouz began his studies, and to fill her time, Elahe decided to continue her education, too. When she discovered that CHES offered a master’s in textiles, she decided to abandon computer science and applied to the program. She found a warm welcome and strong support from the CTD faculty.
Since then, she has soared. In February 2014 she won first place in the Alpaca Owners Association Student Competition, and her designs earned praise as the best ever submitted in the 10-year history of the competition. In addition, she was a finalist in the 2014 University of Alabama Three Minute Thesis competition, where she presented a distilled version of her thesis on “zero-waste” garment design. Alabama Public Television filmed the presentations and selected Elahe as one of the presenters to be followed by APT cameras in order to tell her story. She was also a finalist in the 2014 Birmingham Fashion Week design competition and was named an Emerging Fashion Designer for 2014.
Interior Design Department Chair Shirley Foster foresees a bright future for Elahe in the fashion world. “Her work is well-conceived, which is the most essential thing in design,” she says. “She designs hats that somehow combine the artistic surprise of Philip Treacy fascinators worn by British royalty with the sedate sophistication of something Audrey Hepburn would have worn. She synthesizes all the richness of her background with strong conceptual work, and that’s what makes her designs so fresh and appealing.”
Elahe will complete her degree in May, and she gives much credit to the CHES community and the CTD faculty for their support: “Without their help I would not be where I am now.”