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.
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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.