Tag: interview

Beyond Six Yards: Gaurang Shah

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Gaurang Shah embarked on his journey as a textile advocate almost two decades ago.  His mission was simple: Make handloom relevant to the global Indian woman because he believes that she is the best ambassador of India and its unique textile heritage. His story began with reimagining the Upada of Andhra Pradesh, and in the last 17 years he has grown from working with 8 weavers in one region to more than 800 weavers through the country.
With a focus on textile fusion and artisanal diversity and harboring a soft spot for the Jamdani weave, the brand has now expanded to include Kota, Paithani, Benarasi, Patan Patola, Khadi and Dhakai. We caught up with the designer to chat about our fave fashion topic — the sari.

What was the sari scene like back in 2001?
The love for the sari were almost fading as more and more women in India were choosing western wear. Back then, handlooms lacked the modernity women craved and there was a strong drift towards chiffon and georgette due to its ability to drape easily. For a textile admirer like me, it was like a moment of ‘pause’, where I felt the need to come up with ways to make the handloom sari back in vogue. Weavers needed to be convinced to innovate with unique techniques and to create a new fusion of textiles. It was challenge but I loved every moment, and today when I see the sari receiving  standing ovation on fashion week runways or on celebrities, the satisfaction is immense.

The designer specializes in Jamdani. Jamdani is a brocaded fabric woven with discontinuous extra weft yarns. When Gaurang couldn’t find craftsmen to weave his creations, he began training local weaver’s families, even setting up new looms and introducing them to new forms of Jamdani weaving.

What is the mission of your brand?
We believe that there is a heirloom piece for every single woman out there and we hope that women will take great pride in wearing the sari on every single occasion. Our mission is to make the handloom relevant to the global Indian woman because we believe that she is the ambassador of our nation and its unique textile heritage. The goal is not only to make our brand universally appealing, but to make handloom a sustainable grassroots activity offering weavers and other ancillary trades a stable livelihood. Creating new clusters, new looms, artisanal diversity for our weavers and rewarding them with economic boom, was and will always continue to be my main focus. The goal was to bring sari back in vogue and according to me, the only way you can make craft a passion is if you emphasize on productivity and economic impact.

How would you describe your design sensibility?
A fine balance between traditional heritage and a contemporary sensibility.

Looks from Chitravali, an anthology of 40 handcrafted ensembles inspired by 30 frescos from caves of Ajanta. “A master painter replicated the frescos of the caves and Kalamkari paintings were created using natural dyes and involved 17 tedious steps to process.” Kanjeevaram’s signature bright colors were subdued in the natural dyes, using korvai weaving technique while maintaining with archaic temple tales.

What is the process of creating a Gaurang sari?
Every pattern that we envision is laboriously sketched for days and months before turning them over to the weaver to be woven in his looms. The process and the technique are different and unique for each weave and state, so the timeline depends on the design and weaving complexity. Some of our creations have taken over three to four years to become a reality.

Did you ever imagine your label to experience this mainstream success and how important is it to have a celebrity like Vidya Balan patronize the brand?
The mainstream attention certainly wasn’t immediate. It took me a couple of years to make my customers understand what my creations were and what it would mean to them as a fashion statement. In the early days, my almirahs were full of stock, the khadi saris hardly sold, and now they fly off the shelf as soon as they leave the loom.
Vidya Balan is a constant inspiration for us. She is passionate towards the handloom, especially the sari and has a deep understanding of how it is woven, the eco angle, the natural colors and so much more. It is the confidence with which she wears a sari that makes it glorious.

Runway image credit: Gaurang Shah

P.S: High Heel Confidential is an associate producer of a film that’s part of The Sari Series: An Anthology of Drape. The passion for Sari is real, like you didn’t already know that!

An Interview: Tanya Ghavri

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Meet stylist Tanya Ghavri. The unassuming Bombay girl who made it to most of Bollywood’s speed dial. Trained in Parsons and SNDT, she talks to HHC about stars, style and everything in between.

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What about an #ootd catches Tanya Ghavri’s eye?
Every outfit tells a story and the confidence with which you tell your story is what catches my eye. Sometimes it’s a classic white shirt on a pair of well-worn denims, but the ruthless confidence of its wearer will always draw my eye.

What are five stylist-approved must-haves every woman must have in her closet?
A well-tailored white shirt
Denims more loyal than any boy!
Heels that hurt just the slightest bit less than the rest!
A staple little black dress
And finally a sharply tailored blazer.

And what are 5 things the men must have?
A tailored white shirt (Bonus points if it’s linen)
A smart watch or even a smartwatch
A pair of dress shoes, shining to perfection
A navy blazer
A pair of chinos

What was the turning point of your career?
When I worked on the set of Aisha. I have to say, that was a great start!

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2 lines on:
Kareena Kapoor. (Before TG, she lived in her jeans & tee)
Kareena’s innate charm lets her get away with the simplest of outfits. She’s always loved her denims and tees but I love that some of my best collaborations with her have her in the daintiest of dresses and risky outfits.
Freida Pinto (The pressure of dressing someone while the world watches)
Dressing Frieda’s been one heck of an experience, because it meant seeing my work on international platform. I’ve had so much fun but honestly, the pressure’s just noise in the background when it comes down to the actual fittings. Ultimately, the routine remains the same.
Katrina Kaif (And her recent makeover)
Katrina shedding those kilos certainly made me want to work harder at the gym but when it came to the styling, not much changed. She always looked good in the clothes we chose!
Jacqueline (So fun & fab)
Jacqueline’s such a fun person. I’ve always tried to put that across in the clothes she wears so her vivacity comes through. The clothes never wear her, she wears the clothes!

Now let’s talk about Sonam Kapoor! I think we can all agree she can’t be summarized in 2 lines!

Sonam’s innate sense of style makes it so easy to style her. She knows what she wants and she knows what suits her. That immediately makes my job so much easier. The fact that she’s a friend and a fashionista, means that she trusts my judgement and also trusts my ability to get away with embracing something really atypical and unique.

Actresses often come with their own style and a list of preferred designers. How do you approach that?

I have clients who turn to me with no preconceptions of their look, and others who have an entire look drawn out in their head! Both have their charm! With one I’m in the driving seat and I get complete control over the final look, and with the other I get to work in collaboration with another artist. Who said teamwork was ever a bad thing? If anything, I love the efficiency!

What’s your advice for those wanting to make it big in the celeb stylist space?

Keep at it. Keep reading, keep watching and keep searching. There are so many designers who fall into nooks and crannies and are waiting to be discovered. Your job can make that happen!

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Since fashion month just got over, what is on your immediate lust list for yourself?

My lust list is LONG! Yeezys, slogans tee shirts, a gorgeous Sandro denim jacket, the teeny-tiny crop top, lots of striped shirts and pinstriped dresses… I’m also totally into dresses over pants – and this trend has trickled down to a lot of our Indian designers. And Proenza tops my lust list!

How have blogs (much like this) influenced the styling game? Do the stars read, follow and sometimes take in to consideration the stuff they read?

Yes, most actors read blogs – both Indian but international – and that’s a good thing since it gets everyone to up their style game. Style blogs have definitely made them more aware and excited about appearances and they do take into consideration some of the inputs from blogs.

Finally, who gets the best dressed award from you?

Olivia Palermo/Blake Lively. It’s a tie!
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Shradha Agarwal is a San Francisco-based fashion writer. Her work has been published in The Telegraph, Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar India. When she’s not gasping in disbelief at the similarities between Mindy Lahiri and her, she can be found at happy hour. Follow her on Instagram here.

Q&A Wednesday With Neha Dhupia

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1. Blackberry or Iphone: Blackberry!

2. Favorite travel find: Marked down designer wear and vintage stores.

3. Favorite accessory: Watches & sun-glasses.

4. First extravagant purchase: Diamonds!

5. Most treasured purchase: Shoes… all of them!

6. Necessary extravagance: Designer clothes!

7. Perfume: Quelque Fleurs.

8. Day bag: Prada, Hermes, Chanel.

9. Evening bag: Bottega Veneta, Alexander McQueen & Chanel.

10. Watch: Tag Heuer

11. Jeans or Dresses: Dresses

12. Flats or Heels: Flats and heels

13. Fashion trend that needs to go: Bling!

14. Style Icon: Sarah Jessica Parker.

15. Your one fashion WTHeyyy!!! moment: You guys know best. ha!ha!

Neha Dhupia

Photo Credit: Viral Bhayani

Q&A Wednesday With Pratima Gaurav

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And continuing with our Q&A series, here’s another quick tête-à-tête, this time with the designer Pratima Gaurav

1. As a designer, what inspires you? Have a muse?

All things beautiful. I do believe there is no such thing as too much Luxury. Without sounding immodest, I am my own muse. If it doesn’t pass the muster for me, I will never create it!

2. What is the core aesthetic that you aim for in your clothes?

Fabulousness!

3. With multiple fashion weeks springing up in almost every major city, how effective are they?

Great platform for upcoming designers, but at the moment it’s cluttered – needs to be more unified.

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4. How has the high-end luxury brand influx in India changed the local fashion scene?

It’s getting more democratic – choice always raises the bar in quality and aesthetic.

5. How do you feel about more and more celebrities choosing to wear International labels at various award functions and other public events? As a designer do you feel our homespun designers aren’t getting their due?

I think we need a balance. The sari will always be a classic and the Indian woman always looks her best in it! And frankly it’s a safer option for some for our Celebrities because very few of them can carry a Lanvin gown or a cutting edge McQueen on the red carpet. Rekha in a traditional Kanjeevaram or Sonali in an Abu-Sandeep classic can still make the red carpet sizzle. Unfortunately the media doesn’t stop to smell the Indian roses!

6. How important is it for a designer to have his/her creations seen on a celebrity versus conventional advertising mediums?

Celebrities (the right ones!) do attract the right PR. But frankly, nothing thrills me more than the average Indian woman in my creations. That’s my reward for reaching out to the right audience.

7. Five essentials that should take us through the seasons this year?

The perfect White Shirt – Pratap or Anne Fontaine with many many strands of pearls.

The perfect fitting Jeans: J. Brand or Seven for all Mankind

Cutler & Gross aviators

Bottega Veneta Classic Hobo

A Pratima Gaurav Frill sari

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8. How would you describe your own sense of style?

I don’t have one. If I did I would lose my spontaneity. My closet has an interesting mix of every mood – for Sexy its Anuj Sharma, for Glamorous its Alexander McQueen, for feminine its Chloe, for Classic its vintage Lanvin or Abu-Sandeep, for just being me its the DVF wraps or Savios simple mals and for a work day its Sevens and a crisp Pratap. For traditional wear it’s a woven Benarasi sari from Indian textiles – one for the heirloom.

For baubles its old jadau jewellery my grandmothers hand-me-downs. And multi multi strands of pearls.

Add some sexy Louboutins, Nancy Gonzalez clutches and a big skin hobo and I’m all set.

9. Thoughts on mainstream actresses replacing models on all major (fashion) magazine covers?

Not fair especially since many have no style! Though contradictorily, the stars look refreshingly fabulous when styled by a Vogue or Harper’s! Hopefully they will learn. Kareena for instance has come a long way – something tells me Vogue had a lot to do with it.

10. And finally…

a. One word that describes you?

Fabulous!

b. A trend you wish would go away?

Peroxide Blondes! Send them to the moon.

c. A trend you can’t get enough of?

Pearls

d. Shoes or bags?

Bags, clutches, hobos…et al!

e. If you weren’t a designer, you would be?

A Shrink

f. One thing Pratima Gaurav cannot live without?

My two year old work out – my son, Abeer

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Q&A Wednesday With Kallol Datta

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Picking up where we left off with our Q&A series, here’s a quick tête-à-tête with the designer Kallol Datta

1. As a designer, what inspires you? Have a muse?

As a person, I gravitate towards concepts of putrefaction, transmigration etc, and to the works of artists who’ve dealt with the aforementioned topics. When in design mode, it remains the same. The thought of having a muse throws me off for a loop. I cannot imagine creating garments based on the visual imagery of just one(type) woman.

2. What is the core aesthetic that you aim for in your clothes?

Bling- free, Bling – less, Bling to death and the likes. Shiny objects distract me. Though details in garments are important, for me the shape and form of the piece hold more importance.

3. With multiple fashion weeks springing up in almost every major city, how effective are they?

It’s weird right? Almost like having a Mardi gras at every nook and corner. However India keeps stressing way too much on the word ‘week’. I’ve conditioned myself; substituting ‘week’ for ‘extravaganza and jazz’, because in India that’s what it is at the end of the day.

4. How has the high-end luxury brand influx in India changed the local fashion scene?

Well, for starters, people have started denying the fact that they’ve picked up their Gucci from Mumbai. But seriously, other than the fact of having my garment appear in a magazine on a model wearing a Patrick Cox shoe and the point that is Chanel and not ‘Channel’ anymore, it’s all the same.

5. How do you feel about more and more celebrities choosing to wear International labels at various award functions and other public events? As a designer do you feel our homespun designers aren’t getting their due?

Ask me something on meta-physics and I am sure, I’ll fare better. I stay far away from celebrities and their lives. Their sartorial choice in clothing however, brings out the ‘Kathy Griffin’ in me.

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6. How important is it for a designer to have his/her creations seen on a celebrity versus conventional advertising mediums?

By celebrity, let’s assume we mean people from the Indian film industry. Designers catering to that particular market segment will prolly benefit from actors and the likes wearing their clothes. As for my case, forget the clothes, let’s get people to pronounce ‘Kallol’ the way my mum intended it to be.

7. Five essentials that should take us through the seasons this year?

Well groomed selves (even if one tends to appear otherwise), brill innerwear, a beginner’s sense of humour, lady luck and a glass of vino.

8. How would you describe your own sense of style?

Magpie; random, borrowed, stolen. Roomy, all enveloping and the likes.

9. Thoughts on mainstream actresses replacing models on all major (fashion) magazine covers?

I know!!! How dare they!! but I cry myself to bed every night hoping that it’s only because female actors make better marketing sense and that’s it…

10. And finally…

a. One word that describes you?

daydreamerchainsmoker

b. A trend you wish would go away?

Besides the obsessive usage of the word ‘trend’? ummm bodycon and bling…lets make it two trends that could go away.

c. A trend you can’t get enough of?

Plagiarism

d. Shoes or bags?

Both

e. If you weren’t a designer, you would be?

Just your friendly neighbourhood chav, on government support with the fanciest council apartment. I cannot fathom doing anything else other than designing at the moment.

f. One thing Kallol Datta cannot live without?

Having something constructive to do…

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Kallol Datta, Fall 2009

Photo Credit: Viral Bhayani