Design duo Pankaj and Nidhi Ahuja speak about their fascination for colour at the launch of their new line in Chennai

It's a tale of tones. When New Delhi-based designers Pankaj and Nidhi Ahuja were mulling over references for a new line, little did they realise their fascination for colour could make a story on its own. “Every time we thought of something to work on, the topic kept coming back to colour. That's when we realised, we'd weave a collection around our romance with colour,” say the duo.

In Chennai, at Evoluzione, to launch “Life in Technicolour', a line that traverses a fresh palette of rebel red, gleaming emerald, vibrant fuchsia and pretty plum, the designers say colour has the power to make or mar a garment. “Formal or casual, day or evening, colour is a take-off point for creativity. It dictates the mood and defines an occasion. So it's been a focal point in our journey. This line is a celebration of it.”

Trained under design ace Rohit Bal, before branching out on their own, the NIFT-educated couple say, “Because colour is a key element in our designs, we try not to go overboard with embellishment. That way, we can stick to sensible price points too.”

On show is a range of net, sheer chiffon and Benaras brocade saris, salwar suits and tunics in which the designers avoid predictable patterns in favour of subtle cuts and embellishment. The idea, it appears, is to walk the tightrope between utility and chic. “Wearability is upfront on our fashion radar,” they smile.

“Bad at Page 3,” the two prefer “to let their clothes do the talking.” Says Pankaj, “We started out three years ago. Thankfully we've made a mark without any PR exercise in social circuits. We've made a conscious decision to create designs that appeal to people across age groups. Besides, we try to keep the inspiration for every line drastically different so when a client walks in there's no feeling of déjà vu. For instance, from a craft-oriented line, we suddenly switched to a Pop art-inspired collection recently.”

Despite showing at stores such as Antropologie in the U.S., the designers want to focus their energies on the domestic market. “Unlike the West, India has been somewhat insulated from the recession. And our weddings are getting grander by the day. There's no decline in the demand for couture. Nevertheless, people are learning to make sensible choices. The future is about clothes that can last seasons. Designers face the challenge of conjuring up styles that don't get dated.”