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A sari is not just a fabric but a canvas, and I paint my story on them: Ayush Kejriwal

Ayush Kejriwal finds his photo shoots amateurish and thinks retouching a model's make-up will only kill her natural beauty. The UK-based designer, in an interview with indianexpress.com also opens up about his design aesthetic and how he is using fashion to bring about a social change.

Ayush Kejriwal, fashion designer Ayush Kejriwal, UK Ayush Kejriwal, Ayush Kejriwal sari, Ayush Kejriwal ethnic wear, fashion designer, trendy sari, banarse sari, kanjiwaram sari, traditional bridal sari, bridal collection, dusky models, stereotypical fashion norms, only fair is beautiful, indian express, indian express news The designer who only uses stunning dark-skinned models. (Source: Ayush Kejriwal)

If there is one word that defines his collection, it has to be ‘modern vintage’. Designer Ayush Kejriwal portrays a perfect image of an Indian woman through his designs and he feels fashion can bring sociological changes. “A sari is not just a fabric but a canvas, and I paint my story on them”, he says.

Keeping Indian culture and classic Bollywood style at the centre, the designer plays well with contrasting colours. To name a few, his cora silk floral piece from Benaras, and the Rajnigandha bridal collection are simply exquisite.

In an email interview with indianexpress.com, Kejriwal talks about how his designs are for every woman, especially those who find themselves caught up in the world of stereotyped beauty.

You always send out strong social messages through your collections and campaigns. Lately, you broke the ‘only fair is beautiful’ stereotype by roping dusky models to feature your vibrant collection. Before this, you had a woman wearing a sari with a hijab. How important do you think is the role of fashion in ushering social change?

Style has a much bigger voice than it’s perhaps recognised. At times it has allowed itself to be trivialised even scandalised to a certain extent, though I think it has the power of becoming an incredibly strong voice for change. Style surpasses colour, size, body type or any prejudices for that matter. Stylish people are imaginative, they have a love and understanding of design and a desire to see things that are not there.

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In any culture, the perception of beauty is manipulated. Who decided that ‘being slim, fair and not bald’ or have ‘scanty hair, no blemishes and scars’, or be ‘tall, fair, no bingo wings and stretch marks’ are the only parameters for being beautiful. Who came up with these notions? We did, each and every one of us is responsible for harnessing these notions and letting them become a part of our DNA.

It’s time that this comes to a stop. I refuse to adhere to your rules, I refuse to look at beauty in the way you describe it. I refuse to follow your rules, I refuse to be a part of such a society and I refuse to not be ‘ME’. THIS IS MY STYLE. MY BODY. MY SKIN. MY WORLD. Are you ready for a change?

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What sparked your interest in traditional Indian wear?

From a very young age, I have been fascinated by my mum and grandmother. I have grown up seeing them wear the gorgeous saris! A sari is a 6-metre long canvas that I can use to tell a story. Traditional Indian wear is such fun to work with. I used to be constantly drawing or painting on anything I could get my hands on. I have ruined quite a few walls and bedsheets by drawing on them when I was little! I have used several of my grandmother and mum’s saris to make numerous things with.

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What according to you is your design aesthetic?

Eclectic, eccentric, ethnic and bold.

Where do you find your inspiration from?

Women who are comfortable with how they look inspire me. A woman who does not try to be different for the sake of being different amazes me. A woman who does not look at glossy magazines to style themselves amuses me. I love women who stand for what they believe in and are brave enough to create a unique look that works for them, without feeling the need to be something they are not! My mum is one such woman.

Ayush Kejriwal, fashion designer Ayush Kejriwal, UK Ayush Kejriwal, Ayush Kejriwal sari, Ayush Kejriwal ethnic wear, fashion designer, trendy sari, banarse sari, kanjiwaram sari, traditional bridal sari, bridal collection, dusky models, stereotypical fashion norms, only fair is beautiful, indian express, indian express news (Source: Ayush Kejriwal)

Has the fashion industry been kind to you?

I don’t care about the industry. I make my own rules. I am not here to seek validation. The industry cannot be kind or unkind to me, the industry is irrelevant to me. I will not let the industry take power over me. I do not belong to the fashion industry.

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One fashion trend that shouldn’t have been here in the first place? And one fashion trend that people should experiment with more?

The obsession with caked up make-up and use of glitter is something I do not understand. I feel overpowering eye make-up with clashing colours and massive eyelashes with overemphasised eyebrows make one look like a walking talking Christmas tree! There is no need for it. Less is more.

I think people should try to mismatch things and not colour coordinate everything. There is some magic in playing with colours and clashing prints, experiment with your sari blouses, you will be pleasantly surprised.

Ayush Kejriwal, fashion designer Ayush Kejriwal, UK Ayush Kejriwal, Ayush Kejriwal sari, Ayush Kejriwal ethnic wear, fashion designer, trendy sari, banarse sari, kanjiwaram sari, traditional bridal sari, bridal collection, dusky models, stereotypical fashion norms, only fair is beautiful, indian express, indian express news (Source: Ayush Kejriwal)

Clothing that you won’t ever include in your collection?

Swimsuits.

Your favourite colour of the season?

Oh, I don’t know about what is trending, but I love the colour red, It’s my all-time favourite and is always in trend in my world.

Who according to you is the biggest fashion influencer in India?

Sabyasachi.

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What is your personal style? Less is more or more the merrier?

On most days, you will find me in semi-formal chinos with a T-shirt and a jumper as it’s very cold in Scotland! I am a great believer in less is more!

Who is your style icon?

Rekha!

(Source: Ayush Kejriwal)

What’s the best part about working in the fashion industry?

It has given me a voice with which I can bring a change. It has enabled me to raise awareness about issues that needs to be challenged and as a result of that, it has enabled me to empower people. More importantly, it has provided me with an opportunity to make people feel good about themselves by helping them look beautiful in my clothes.

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One lady from Bollywood you would want to dress up?

I admire Vidya Balan, Tabu and Rekha. Fortunately, Vidya has worn my Dhanno sari once, if Tabu and Rekha follow on I would be over the moon.

First published on: 05-10-2017 at 16:46 IST
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