Archana Rao Curated
Indian Fashion Designer
CURATED BY :
What made you choose fashion?
I was always a creative person so after schooling I was confused about which field to choose among fine arts, architecture and fashion. NIFT Hyderabad opened around the same time and fashion industry was booming… so, I decided to join there. I am glad that I took that decision as I thoroughly enjoyed the curriculum and still carry the basics that I’ve learnt there.
What, in your personal opinion, sets you apart?
The practicality of my outfits and the well-tailored fit are the main reasons for my collection to be so well accepted. Designers tend to be theatrical with their pieces but not everything finds its way to the market. People need to relate to the clothes and should see themselves wearing it. Even the collection that I showcased in my final year of college was very wearable and I still take that aspect into consideration whenever I design. People in Hyderabad don’t mind spending extravagantly on Indian wear but will hesitate to spend the same amount on a well-tailored jacket. I am trying to bridge this gap and make good outfits (not necessarily Indian) in the luxury range.
Why did you choose Hyderabad as the base?
When I was thinking of starting my own label, I realised the untapped fashion potential of Hyderabad. Also in terms of workmanship, there are many skillful hand-embroiders and tailors in the city which is a boon to the designers. Taking these factors into account, I chose to set up my studio in Hyderabad but I also travel extensively for fashion shows and pop-up exhibitions. I was born and brought up here so it was very comfortable for me to start something new.
When did you realise that you have finally made it?
I have lots to learn so, I don’t think I have made it yet. But one moment that was of paramount importance to me was winning the Vogue Fashion Fund. The who’s who of the fashion industry competed to win and the jury members judging it were reputed fashion personalities like Sabyasachi. After working so hard, an appreciation of this magnitude was overwhelming.
What is your take on celebrities and fashion?
Having a stylist has made designers more accessible to the celebrities and vice-versa. Right from new and upcoming designers to international luxury brands, celebrities nowadays sport looks from a wide range of collections. Ever since these collaborations have started, it changed the whole game of fashion. This has especially created a platform and mass awareness for fashion.
What was your take on fashion internationally?
I have done a fashion show, a trade show and a pop-up exhibition in the USA. This was a learning experience as I gathered a lot of information about the international market and the buyers’ tastes. I also interact with the student crowd on numerous occasions and the wonderful response that I receive motivates me to march in the right direction in the ever-changing, fast-paced fashion industry.
What’s the theme of your WIFW collection?
It’s inspired by how a typical family dresses — father, mother and daughter. The theme is family laundry. For instance, a father would wear a gingham shirt.
You are known for separates in your ensembles. Do we expect them in the new line?
I’ve tried to focus on one-piece looks and layered them. There are textured jackets, over-sized coats which can be worn as dresses. I have used digital prints in the form of illustrations like faces and botanical flowers.
Tell us about the textile story in your collections.
More than revival, it’s about handcrafted, hand embroidered pieces presented with a contemporary twist. I have used the classic gingham checks. There are Indian pieces as well but they aren’t necessarily bridal. They go with the theme but are very wearable and contemporary and easily blend into the collection. Women usually find it a hassle to wear a sari and I have tried to make it fun and easy. They are modern and lightweight. I haven’t used too many accessories this time since I wanted the garments to be the focus.
After winning the Vogue Fashion Fund, how has been your association with Vogue India?
Vogue India has been extremely helpful. They taught me about the market and helped me understand it better. Later they gave me freedom to do my own things. So I look forward to seeing them enjoy the show.
Tell us about your line with Westside.
It is a prêt line suiting the Westside customer and infused with my own sensibility. It’s easy to wear.
How do you strike a balance between your design sensibility and demands of the market?
I’m not necessarily inspired by the European culture. I have a penchant for soft, romantic, vintage aesthetic which could be very Indian as well. So there’s no tussle there to adapt my sensibilities to suit the Indian taste.
Who is the ‘Frou Frou’ girl?
She is someone who’s intelligent, who doesn’t take fashion seriously and who dresses up to enjoy herself.
Who are your favourite designers in India and abroad?
I really love and respect Rajesh Pratap and Sabyasachi. Internationally, I admire Stella McCartney and Comme des Garçons.