Priyadarshini Rao launches The Wanderlust in the city today. A peek at what’s in store…

From the incredibly complex to downright simple, form-defying to form defining, earthy shades to jewel tones, traditional inspirations to contemporary flashes and fussy couture to fuss-free prêt, Priyadarshini Rao has straddled the world of style for over 15 years displaying a range of sensibilities. In Chennai, at Collage, Greams Road to launch “The Wanderlust”, her new line for which she has sauntered into Afghanistan, Mongolia, China and beyond for inspiration, the designer speaks about what it takes to create works that have emotional and intellectual resonance to her roots in particular and to the world in general. Here’s a quick five with the designer:


‘The Wanderlust’ is for the thinking woman’s wardrobe. It’s culture-centric and inspired by travelling nomads who absorb disparate elements from different traditions. It starts with India-inspired blocks, hand embroideries and brocades and travels upwards to explore the finer elements of the occasion-driven couture traditions in some Eastern countries. It’s about ensembles and separates in hand-woven, hand-dyed natural fabrics. From trapeze and tents to fitted jackets, the silhouettes too reflect the nomadic theme and the colour story ranges from vivid red-green-blue-yellow to lucent tones.


When I set out in this field, I was obsessed with creating clothes for the swish young set. But with time, I realised my forte was in designing for slightly older women with evolved sartorial sensibilities. So I moved away from body-caressing fits and three-dimensional embroidery to pared down clothes cut away from the body.


Priyadarshini Rao, my eponymous label is to satisfy my deep cravings to do clothes that reflect culture. ‘Mineral’ that was launched by my husband last year is a high street brand that showcases my skill for designing practical prêt. It is now available at six standalone stores in Mumbai, and we do have plans for expansion. Priyadarshini Rao is for my soul, Mineral keeps me young at heart. Thanks to my stint as head of design at Shoppers Stop early on in my career, it helped me pick up the ropes of merchandising. My work for Westside too helps me explore a different kind of aesthetic. When designers step in and do prêt for retail chains, it changes the complexion of the market that’s usually dictated by Western labels and their staid seasonal influences. There’s a big niche that’s left unoccupied.


Even as a school girl I was inclined towards design. I used to pick up volumes of Vogue and other foreign glossies from the raddiwala and sketch seeing the pictures. Both my parents are architects, so they were open to looking at career choices outside the mainstream. I went ahead with my fashion passion. My mom had an innate flair for design and used to tailor our clothes herself. After formal training in India, I went to London where I specialised in corsetry and jacket-making. I was lucky to work with the famous Sylvia Fletcher before launching my own label.


Every season designers look for fresh inspirations and interpretations. But what’s important is to create something refreshing within his or her own template. Designers must have their USPs. Otherwise, you will get lost in the clutter. With experience I know clients too seek that signature look. If I were to throw in a mini skirt into my collection, I’m sure my label loyalists will be startled.

(Priyadarshini Rao launches The Wanderlust at Collage today, 11 a.m.)


Krithika ReddyMay 11, 2012