Can you talk a little about the inspiration behind your new couture collection?
It was purely Shivan's passion for flowers. I have known him for 20 years. And this is one subject that I have seen that is so close to his heart. It's literally a part of him because he grew up, in a small town in Madhya Pradesh and he grew up between the forests. So nature was very close to him growing up. He used to go to flower markets at 4:00 AM in the morning on a Tuesday-Thursday, and doing flower arrangements at home, even if you have two friends coming over at home for dinner. It made him happy. So these feelings inspired the show because.
When we first had a conversation about this show, we wanted to take something a lot more meaningful and something that lasts much longer because it is timeless in that sense. And so it had to be a feeling that's also very timeless, something that we would relate to even 20 years down the line. And hence we titled it Florists at Work, because this is purely his passion. That set the tone for the whole collection and eventually the set design and the choreography and the choice of models and everything then started to be guided by this.
Flowers are vivid, its where the colours come from, how did you know which one to use for the colour palette for this collection?
Between Shivan & me, I usually do the colors and prints. I mean, I do the colors and prints, and Shivan is responsible for textures and silhouettes. So from the very beginning we have our aesthetic office is pretty divided, clearly cut out. The color palette was purely my call. I love to pick colors from a very canvas point of view. I love to paint. So for me, picking the hues is more important than picking the color. If it's a red, then what red is it? Similarly with blues, there is this particular sky blue which is very flattering for both women and men, and there is no masculinity about this blue, which usually we tend to stereotype. The moment you think of a sky blue, you think it's only for men. I love this political conversation that we have with color and expectations of color when I feel like this is one place where Indian can really be broken with stereotypes.
That's the reason of opening the show with whites and doing whites for bridal, because I feel like it's such a closeted color when it comes to bridal in India. And I don't understand the context of it. Yes, we enjoy it, we understand the cultural context of white and bridal wear, but it's literally to say that you add one drop of pink in this and it's fine, if it's an agro white, that's also fine. But if it's an ivory white, it's not fine? This play of pushing the boundaries, the why not whites and honestly, this is our way of evolving Indian couture…really pushing the boundaries. And for me, color is my medium, how I think. I try to push it with color, and Shivan tries to push it with textures, and conceptually was tied with his love for flowers.
Do you remember like when you actually decided to venture into couture, beyond your signature, resortwear? What was the reason why you wanted to actually do that?
The first time that we did Couture was actually during Covid. I remember the time because there were no weddings, and that was the time we decided to do it. I love that timing because I felt that nobody was speaking the language of weddings anymore. I love the fact that when there's no noise, you can truly do something that can be seen and can be observed. We both hade been feeling that Indian couture can be so much more than just our traditional embroideries. I feel like the whole demographic that comes under couture in India has drastically changed in the last 10 years, mainly because the ones who are going to, who consume it now are millennials. And the ones that who will start consuming in the next five years are Gen Zs. The way they consume fashion and luxury is like diametrically opposite than the Generation X or my, my parents's generation. They saved up all their lives to spend money on couture for a wedding day. And I know my sister doesn't think like that as a Gen Z. So because we knew that we have a very different way of looking at Couture, we had been itching to get into Couture for about five years now. And I think with Covid, we just felt like this is the right time, to put out a digital show because we felt that nobody is speaking. There's suddenly a new perspective of understanding, there's more to life than just buying for your relatives, for your husband, for your boyfriend, and for all the external validations that should, that do not actually stand true as a feeling when a millennial or Gen Z shops, because they don't shop for anybody else.
What is your opinion on fashion films as opposed to runway shows?
Runway shows is where our heart lies. There's some sanctity of the way you present a collection, and you don't want that focus to move away. When a model walks through the way the convent falls, the way you perceive it and to that extent, you don't even want to dilute it because it takes away the conversation from what the collection should be about. So in a lot of ways we both on these views, we're slight traditionalists to that extent because I feel like fashion needs to be consumed in a fashion way, from the time that we did our our 10th anniversary show, in 2020, which we put online and we kept doing digital shows till the time the world opened up.
You have been a part of the industry for like more than a decade if you say so, how do you think your sensibility as designers has evolved?
It's definitely evolved, a hundred percent. Has it changed drastically? Maybe not. I think we started this category for a personal love of travel because we wanted to do something that makes us travel the world for the rest of our lives so it never feels like you're waking up in the morning to go to work. And that was a reason to pick swim, resort wear because we thought, , it'll inspire us and others to travel. And then when we got into it, we realized that the reason women shop for bathing suits has nothing to do with external validation. It's all purely self-love and self-confidence. So then we had learned a very new way of how our demographics thought and felt, and that pushed us to take that feeling forward to the rest of the
category of with resort wear, with men's wear, adding ski wear, and then eventually adding it as a category.
For all other fashion that's consumed in India, it's always bought for people outside, you always buy something for a wedding because you want to look great, you want to tell everybody you bought a designer outfit because your relatives wanna feel proud that you're part of the family and all of that. So all those are very external conversations, but these conversations are a lot more private and with yourself. So, it's definitely a personal evolution as a designer, for the last 12-13 years.
What’s next for you?
Home is a big space for us next. I think another thing that happened during Covid was that both me and Shivan are very passionate about homes. I think we love being at home, actually, to be honest. I don't think we love being at home because we have been traveling constantly, but when were home for 2-3 years we really liked the love of being at home actually. And we started very small little, things during those covid years, just like table mats and covers and things. But today like what’s the next big thing for us is a massive home category. We're now getting into wallpapers and, and furniture and upholstery, there’s already a stationary line, so there's a lot happening in the home space for us next. And I think you will see some big strides in that space from the brand.
Words Hansika Lohani