Here Comes the Caravan

Designer Priyadarshini Rao’s latest collection will celebrate the cultural confluence of the Caravanserais

Written by VIDYA PRABHU | Published: August 20, 2013 5:48 am

At first sight,there are a lot of things vying for attention at fashion designer Priyadarshini Rao’s studio-cum-office in Mumbai. A lone mannequin occupies a corner while the desks and cabinets are filled with fabrics and garments. One of her assistants is sewing buttons on a tunic,while another is noting the measurements on a sketch. Rao is immersed in a heap of spec sheets (short for specification sheets) bearing black-and-white sketches of outfits along with bright swatches. Her biggest worry,though,is ensuring that her jackets are on time for her August 23 show as part of the upcoming edition of Lakme Fashion Week (LFW) in Mumbai. “I am showing jackets after a while. I had to outsource the making of these jackets as I was short of time,” she says.

True to her design philosophy,the 42-year-old is showing a wearable fusion line,one that will have a healthy mix of fabrics,colours and interesting prints. “For many designers,the garment takes shape in their mind first and then they go about sourcing the fabric and translating that idea into a reality. With me,it’s the other way around. I first get my fabrics in place and then fashion a collection out of them,” says the designer,who got a fashion design diploma at SNDT University (where she studied under Wendell Rodricks) and followed it up with a specialisation in textile design at Sophia Polytech.

At the fashion week she will show a total of 35 complete looks with the outfits taking inspiration from the Caravanserais of the 16th and the 18th century. And while she did extensive research on the subject by reading up on them and finding visual references,she admits that the clothes draw indirectly from the theme. The collection is her own spin on how these Caravanserais served as a melting pot for people from different cultures.

In keeping with this,it’s not just Indian but Western influences too that have found their way into her line. Take for instance,a bright ensemble comprising a fuchsia-coloured patchwork skirt paired with a shirt made out of mul. “The skirt is made of bright-coloured silk and has a dash of embroidery. On the other hand,the shirt,that has been dyed using indigo blue and sports different types of block prints,has long sleeves with frills made of tissue. This,in turn,lends it a blouson look that is distinctly European,” says Rao,adding that the fusion echoes the cultural exchange witnessed at the Caravanserais that contributed to the flow of commerce,across the trade network covering Asia,north Africa,and

south-east Europe.

The vegetable dyes give the contemporary silhouettes — skirts,tunics,jackets,maxis and trousers — a worn-in look. “I’ve been able to put together this collection in less than a month mainly because I had the printed fabrics (cotton,silk,and mul) ready on time. That is half the work done and working on sketches is actually the easiest part of my job,” says Rao.

Once the sketches are ready,she sends across the spec sheets — complete with the measurements and swatches — and the fabrics to her unit in Jogeshwari. Her team executes her designs. When the garments are ready,they are sent to her studio for quality checks and putting together the looks.

AT first sight,there are a lot of things vying for attention at fashion designer Priyadarshini Rao’s studio-cum-office in Mumbai. A lone mannequin occupies a corner while the desks and cabinets are filled with fabrics and garments. One of her assistants is sewing buttons on a tunic,while another is noting the measurements on a sketch. Rao is immersed in a heap of spec sheets (short for specification sheets) bearing black-and-white sketches of outfits along with bright swatches. Her biggest worry,though,is ensuring that her jackets are on time for her August 23 show as part of the upcoming edition of Lakme Fashion Week (LFW) in Mumbai. “I am showing jackets after a while. I had to outsource the making of these jackets as I was short of time,” she says.

True to her design philosophy,the 42-year-old is showing a wearable fusion line,one that will have a healthy mix of fabrics,colours and interesting prints. “For many designers,the garment takes shape in their mind first and then they go about sourcing the fabric and translating that idea into a reality. With me,it’s the other way around. I first get my fabrics in place and then fashion a collection out of them,” says the designer,who got a fashion design diploma at SNDT University (where she studied under Wendell Rodricks) and followed it up with a specialisation in textile design at Sophia Polytech.

At the fashion week she will show a total of 35 complete looks with the outfits taking inspiration from the Caravanserais of the 16th and the 18th century. And while she did extensive research on the subject by reading up on them and finding visual references,she admits that the clothes draw indirectly from the theme. The collection is her own spin on how these Caravanserais served as a melting pot for people from different cultures.

In keeping with this,it’s not just Indian but Western influences too that have found their way into her line. Take for instance,a bright ensemble comprising a fuchsia-coloured patchwork skirt paired with a shirt made out of mul. “The skirt is made of bright-coloured silk and has a dash of embroidery. On the other hand,the shirt,that has been dyed using indigo blue and sports different types of block prints,has long sleeves with frills made of tissue. This,in turn,lends it a blouson look that is distinctly European,” says Rao,adding that the fusion echoes the cultural exchange witnessed at the Caravanserais that contributed to the flow of commerce,across the trade network covering Asia,north Africa,and

south-east Europe.

The vegetable dyes give the contemporary silhouettes — skirts,tunics,jackets,maxis and trousers — a worn-in look. “I’ve been able to put together this collection in less than a month mainly because I had the printed fabrics (cotton,silk,and mul) ready on time. That is half the work done and working on sketches is actually the easiest part of my job,” says Rao.

Once the sketches are ready,she sends across the spec sheets — complete with the measurements and swatches — and the fabrics to her unit in Jogeshwari. Her team executes her designs. When the garments are ready,they are sent to her studio for quality checks and putting together the looks.

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