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The Reluctant Designer

Mira Nair wears Pero,so does Kate Hudson for a film,but designer Aneeth Arora would rather talk about something else.

Written by Shefalee Vasudev | New Delhi |
September 17, 2012 4:10:54 pm

Delhi-based Aneeth Arora the designer who creates the globally known label Pero has been in the news recently –but would rather underplay it. Aneeth not only designed for Kate Hudson and some of the cast for Mira Nair’s most recent release ‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist’ based on a novel by British-Pakistani author Mohsin Hamid,but she herself played a small cameo as part of a family scene in the film. When I visited Aneeth last week at her studio in Delhi,she was reluctant to help us either with photographs of Mira Nair wearing Pero for the international premiers of the film or those of Kate Hudson sporting her label. “Let me ask Mira again,” she said. However,she did talk about her first meeting with Nair. It so happened that Mira Nair found some Pero clothes in Brazil (Aneeth retails from roughly 60 stores worldwide) and when she was in Delhi to shoot a part of the same film,she asked her stylist to arrange a meeting with Aneeth. Not only did she buy a lot of clothes for herself but went ahead and signed Aneeth for creating costumes and looks for her cast. “You will fit very well with the family scene so please come and be a part of it dressed in your own label,” added Nair inviting Aneeth to shoot with her crew. That’s how the reluctant Aneeth became a part of The Reluctant Fundamentalist.

Her workplace is scattered across a few rooms in the neighbourhood in Siddharth Extension. The one where she entertained us (see pix) is where clothes hang on a rack. The other is a room packed from floor to the ceiling with the textiles she specially gets woven. Everything is handloom and woven in Pero. A label that encourages you to layer garments on top of each other—never mind your body type—Pero is very strongly rooted in Indian woven traditions and in silhouettes. Aneeth admits that the global market lusts more for pure,soft cottons where as a chunk of the Indian retail market found silk more “value for money”. A majority of her clothes are cotton; she interprets traditional silhouettes (the Kutchi kedia blouse or the Rajasthani Nilgar for instance) and then styles them in a distinctive boho way by layering them funkily and very imaginatively. “A Kedia blouse (which frills out from the waist out but is fitted on top) shouldn’t be worn with slouchy or cowl pants because then it will end up looking like a costume,” she advises. “Wear it as a soft jacket and try it on a straight,slim kurta preferably of the same colour.” Aneeth also spoke of how her Western  clients instinctively knew how to layer whereas in India she has to strive to put a look together. “A Western lady will wear a Rajasthani Nilgar just in the way it should be worn,whereas an India will invariably interpret it as a kurta and try it with a tight churidar?”

I found these insights into cultural styling of our clothes quite engrossing. That’s why Aneeth argued,she wasn’t in a hurry to put out Pero saris (now designed and ready on the hanger—see pix) till she worked out a full look for them. “I must be able to give my saris a strong,distinct personality instead of selling them as loose,separate drapes. I want to pair them with a blouse,a petticoat and work on the drape to show my clients how to wear a Pero sari.”

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When she does,you will see the styled sari in pictures right here on Unfashion.

PS: Don’t forget to see Short Story alongside on this page for a cute ancillary story that unravelled at Aneeth’s studio that day.

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