Archana Rao and Anushree Reddy, who will represent Hyderabad in the Talent Box section of Lakme Fashion Week Summer/Resort 2013, open up on fashion and their dreams

Archana Rao is clad in a black, structured outfit and Anushree Reddy walks in sporting a summery white and pink anarkali accentuated by a floral dupatta. Archana and Anushree are polar opposites of each other, bound by the passion for design. Archana is formally trained in fashion, graduating from National Institute of Fashion Technology and armed with a post-graduate degree from Parsons College of Design, New York. Anushree is an MBA who took to fashion instinctively. Archana has a design-centric approach to her work while Anushree has a good head for numbers.

“I set a target and work towards it. I am good with numbers,” says Anushree, talking to us on a balmy afternoon. This is where she applies her business and management principles to fashion. Anushree, 28, has been designing for three years now. “I rented a place, hired two tailors and worked on a lot of fabric. Looking back, I feel my first collection was a disaster. I learnt hands-on. There was help and motivation from family and friends. Today I am more confident of my work,” she says. In these three years, she fine-tuned her skills, found where her expertise lies — designing ethnic clothing — before she applied for LFW.

Archana’s, on the other hand, has been a planned approach. Last summer she debuted at LFW in the Gen Next category. Excited about her second outing, she says fashion week is an honest platform where luck and recommendation don’t work. “It’s talent that counts. After exhibiting my collection last summer, I took a break. I didn’t apply for the winter/festive 2012 fashion week since I was busy with this collection. When I applied, I was a bit unsettled since trends keep changing and you never know what fashion week is looking for,” says 27-year-old Archana.

A formal education, Archana agrees, helps one get a strong foundation in fashion but feels nothing can match hands-on experience. Unlike Anushree, Archana has a design-centric approach to fashion. “My dad looks after the business end and keeps me in check when I go overboard,” she says. Archana will showcase her collection ‘A Nostalgia Shop’ inspired by vintage thrift stores across the world. “In these tiny shops, every piece narrates a story,” says Archana. The 12 high-end garments — skirts, tops, jackets and trousers —will have patterns and textures on distressed fabrics to give an aged, vintage look. Archana’s forte lies in playing with textures and pattern-making.

Anushree’s line-up of 12 outfits will include saris, anarkalis, lehengas and flimsy jackets in whites and washed out pinks with a touch of vintage rose prints. Expect a combination of Chantilly lace with Nizami zardosi. “I worked with karigars whose families have been specialising in Nizami zardosi for over 100 years,” says Anushree.

Both designers are keen to make a success out of their fashion week stint. “It’s a good platform to meet buyers. And this is where one gets feedback from the fashion fraternity,” says Archana. Anushree agrees and adds, “This will be a step towards better recognition in the national platform.”

Archana Rao

A postgraduate from Parsons College of Design, New York, she feels it was a smart decision to move back to an emerging market like Hyderabad. Her label is titled ‘Frou Frou’ indicative of the rustling sound of fabric. At LFW, she will be exhibiting a vintage collection titled ‘A nostalgia trip’ comprising skirts, tops, trousers and jackets.

Anushree Reddy

A self-taught designer, she specialises in Indian wear. She retails her signature label from upscale stores in Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Hyderabad. One of her outfits was sported by Madhuri Dixit in Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa. At LFW, look out for her line of saris, lehengas, anarkalis and jackets that combine lace with Hyderabadi zardosi.

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