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Fashion designer Azadeh Riaz and partner Jean Massih have opened a new retail and event space in Napa’s Oxbow area, one that offers fashion, coffee, wine, home décor, furniture, garden items and more.
Called Napario, the new venture is “a labor of love,” said Riaz.
The space, located in a former warehouse at 943 Water St., recently hosted a temporary opening but will reopen to the public on Feb. 12 with a grand opening.
Riaz said that it was on a visit to Napa when she and Massih found the abandoned municipal warehouse one block south of the Oxbow Public Market. They fell in love with it, she said.
Despite the fact that the building had been mostly vacant for over a decade and that the Napa River wasn’t even visible behind all of the overgrowth, “they had a vision of a spacious and engaging retail and event space opening to a beautiful riverside garden,” said a Napario news release.
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On January 8, 2021, “they rolled up their sleeves and began their year-long effort to create a jewel that is destined to become a favorite for locals and visitors alike.”
It would have been no surprise if Riaz opened a clothing boutique. But that’s not what she did.
“Fashion is my passion but not my only love,” Riaz said.
“From a young age I’ve had great admiration for and interest in nature and agriculture,” she said. “I find serenity in gardening and being outdoors.”
Napario guests can appreciate her admiration both inside and outside the Napario complex. Multiple rolltop doors allow for all-natural light inside and a landscaped garden area with seating looks over the Napa river.
Riaz’s ‘road’ to Napario began in her native Iran whereas a teenager, she began designing clothing for herself and her mother.
Her work apparently the eye of some very well-heeled contacts and from 1982 to 1986 she was given the challenge of designing haute-couture daytime, evening and bridal wear for the Royal Family of Saudi Arabia/Donna Couture House in Jedeh, Saudi Arabia.
“Eager to do more,” Riaz immigrated to the United States and undertook formal design training getting her bachelor’s degree in fashion design as well as additional training in couture and draping from the Pacific Fashion Institute.
In 1990 Bebe Stores of San Francisco hired her as its first in-house designer and VP of manufacturing.
Over the next five years, Riaz created Bebe’s signature look while developing and establishing the brand’s manufacturing capabilities to 15 factories nationwide and propelled the company from three stores in Northern California to 55 stores nationwide, providing the foundation for Bebe to become a publically-traded company.
After creating ready-to-wear fashion for such a “retail powerhouse,” Riaz then looked for her next challenge and in 1995 Atelier Azadeh was born.
With her dedication to exclusive custom-fitted designs, devotion to luxurious fabrics, techniques of creative construction, and one-of-a-kind service, Riaz has earned a respected reputation in the high-fashion industry and a devoted clientele said the release.
During 1995 to 2020 Atelier Azadeh had retail locations on Union Square in San Francisco and downtown Los Gatos as well as concierge locations in New York, Beverly Hills and Marin County.
In 2020, when COVID closed all of her retail and concierge locations, Riaz and Massih came to Napa to shelter in place, and “the dream of Napario was born.”
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You can reach reporter Jennifer Huffman at 256-2218 or [email protected]