I got back to one of my major loves in the journalism game; interviewing. In the run up to the Aashni + Co Bridal Exhibition, I’ve had the chance to speak to some very talented designers all of whom are excited to come to London in order to showcase their collections as well as learn a bit more about their international market. Nikasha, is one of those designers set to take London by storm this weekend at the Aashni + Co exhibition. I gave her a call to learn more about her background, her collection and her opinions on all things fashion.
How did you first get into fashion?
“I was actually training to be a psychoanalyst and in fact fashion design kind of just happened for me. I was at a party and I had made something for myself to wear and this lady came up to me and said ‘I really like what you’re wearing and I’m opening a store, would you be able to provide a few pieces like this?’ I thought she was mad! I was like ‘yeah sure, why not?’ so I did. A few days later, I got a call from this gentleman and he said he was calling on behalf of Selfridges and that he had been to this lady’s store and saw my clothing. He then asked would I be interested in supplying there. Again, I thought this was a hoax. So that’s how it actually started and he was in fact a buyer from Selfridges and he got me in there and I worked for about 2 years with Selfridges. We created cotton kaftans, wrap around skirts and tunics. That’s how my label started.”
Have you ever felt concerned about the competition within the fashion industry?
“The only tough part I would say is that there are a lot of copy cats. The mass market has become a cause for concern. In India it happens on such a huge scale and there is no policing of it. India is such a big country so in many villages you have these self proclaimed designers who in fact copy designs. That has become a real cause for concern, especially in the metro cities also like Delhi and Bombay.”
Where do you get your inspiration from?
“I believe that inspiration is always within you. It’s something that you keep tapping into. Sometimes it’s an idea you thought about ten years ago and you’ve marinated it and you’re ready to step out with it. I think for anyone who is a creative person, it depends on your mood too. You can hear a song or you might be in a place and see a colour or painting and suddenly think “oh wow I want to do a collection based on this.” A lot depends on how you’re feeling about yourself at that point in time. Whether you’re feeling happy, sad, dark. Are you getting over something? A lot depends on those factors. Inspiration is a combination of a lot of factors.”
Tell us a bit more about the collection.
“I will be bringing the 2014/15 AW collection, which is our ramp collection. We’ve had lots of celebrities wearing these pieces such as Deepika Padukone who wore two pieces from the ramp collection, Raveena Tandon, Alia Bhatt and Vidya Balan. This has been a very popular collection plus we’re also bringing Rani, which is our bridal collection. So it’s a mixture of the two.”
You’ve had some favourable critique by notable writers. What impact does this have on you and your career?
“I remember meeting Suzy Menkes at my show in Bombay and after she left India we were all very anxious about who she was going to write about and who she wasn’t going to write about. Fortunately I was amongst 3 or 4 designers that did get written about. Critic are all okay and I’m humbled that we’ve had plenty of press coverage but as much as I appreciate it, I think it’s important to keep focused on what you do because sometimes things are good and sometimes it’s not and people do write that you could do better or that your work is different. I feel as long as you’ve been true to your collection and you’ve done the prerequisites that need to be done, then favourable or unfavourable critics doesn’t matter. You move on to the next. Constructive criticism however is very interesting and should be acknowledged. At the end of the day, it’s art. Yes it’s commercial art to an extent. Fashion has to be liked by a certain segment of society.”
What are you looking forward to at the Aashni + Co Show?
“To meet all these people. As a designer, I don’t have my own store and I supply to many stores all over the world. It’s always exciting when you come to a new, international market and see and meet people and basically interact and hang out and see what the vibes are like. I’m very excited about this collaboration with Aashni and I hope it all goes well and we keep coming back every year.”