This is a personal moment for you of course, but it’s also momentous for the fashion industry. You are a mainstream designer and government awards usually go to textile revivalists working with museums.
I am humbled, honoured and happy on a personal level. But on a larger scale, for the fashion industry, this gives recognition to designers who do more than mainstream design. After my book on Goa’s costume history, Moda Goa, many social projects including a revival of the Kunbi sari and showcasing Goa overseas came about. The Goan people lobbied for this, and I owe Goa a lot.
Why is Goa culture and costume so relevant to you and your work?
Goa and being Goan is at the core of my being. Most people look at us as a party people and state, but there is so much more to Goans. Look at the creative professionals that this tiny state has produced. Writers, architects, musicians — the list of big names is impressive. When I began researching the history of Goan costume, I knew the 10-year project would go somewhere for posterity. A year later, I wrote Moda Goa. The book will evolve into a museum and a design institute hopefully. With the Padma Shri on my side, I have resolved to make this my priority.
Goa has been rife with political controversy surrounding ecological issues and corruption, especially in mining. You’ve also voiced your stand strongly against this.
Compared to other states, Goa is in a far better shape. And this is thanks to a people who are passionate about their land. There are devious minds everywhere. But there are also many good souls. I am forever the optimist.
Professionally, what is next for you ?
I plan to take one day at a time. I am working on two books at the moment. Both are exciting and I am enjoying the process.
Any advice for the thousands who look up to you, especially young designers?
Be original. Work with your heart. Be passionate about fashion. Make a contribution to Indian fashion by putting your state and country into your work. It is only when a culture like ours is celebrated in a visible form like fashion, can the world look up and respect our rich cultural clothing legacy.