Olivia Palmero, Tory Burch, and even Victoria Beckham all have their successful fashion labels, but they all actually started as simply well-dressed women. They were girls about town who loved fashion, and turned their passion into profession. We have our own crop of girls whose names are now labels — Ramona Narang, Pia Pauro, and now Pernia Qureshi. And, they seem to be filling a gap for fun, easy, chic clothing.
Ensemble’s Mumbai store was the first to keep Narang’s creations in December 2009 — ‘Lady’, a capsule collection of cocktail dresses. However, this was not Narang’s first foray into fashion; she worked as a stylist at style portal in 2002 and designed a line of semi-precious jewellery eight years ago. The 41-year-old now sells at eight stores across India, as well as Dubai’s Soiree, has her own studio, and also does trunk shows all over the world.
In fact, her take on fashion has caught Bollywood’s eye too — her client includes Deepika Padukone, Priyanka Chopra, and Preity Zinta. “As a person who loves fashion, I think I understand what a woman wants. My clothes are for women who enjoy life,” says Narang. And her buyers agree, says Shaan Thadhani, founder of the Delhi-based, multi-designer boutique White. “Ramona knows what the Indian woman likes to wear. She is well-travelled, so also has the pulse on the international market and is able to translate it into a collection that works.” He stocks both Narang’s and Pia Pauro’s line.
Pia Pauro made her debut at the Summer/Resort 2012 edition of Lakme Fashion Week with ‘Shamal’, a glam-boho collection. She sells in over 30 stores in India and is showing at LFW Winter/Festive 2012 that begins on August 3. This 35-year-old studied Fashion Management at London’s School of Fashion, and opened her own retail store Rock-a-Bella in Delhi’s Gole Market in 2010.
Making her debut at the Winter/Festive 2012 LFW is another name that’s regularly on the best-dressed list of fashion glossies — Pernia Qureshi. Known for her elegant dressing style, the 28-year-old Qureshi launched her own e-commerce site www.perniaspopupshop.com this April. Designers such as Anamika Khanna, Sabyasachi and Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla sell out on her site. Her collection ‘An Evening in Paris’ promises retro vibe and vintage glam. Qureshi interned at ELLE in the U.S., was a stylist at Harper’s Bazaar India, and also worked on the costumes for Sonam Kapoor-starrer Aisha. “I have no illusions of being a designer,” she says. For her, it is an extension of her website and she is working with Jarem Imkong, a trained designer who plans to launch her own label.
CAN THEY MAKE THE CUT?
“Celebrity behind a designer label helps, as, for many women buying their label is like buying a piece of their lifestyle,” says Vogue India’s editor Priya Tanna. Celebrity designers also need to be careful that their labels do look too influenced by their favourite labels, but still represent their look. Not every fashionable girl can become a designer. For every Narang, Pauro and Qureshi there are at least 10 others who have tried and not made it. Anjana Sharma, director-fashion, IMG Reliance (organiser of LFW), says: “Such girls may have a great personal style, but it takes more than good taste to have longevity as a designer. Anyone interested in a viable career as a fashion designer must get the appropriate training and knowledge, whether it’s through a fashion institute or through apprenticeships and study.”
But can they give fashion designers a run for their money? Says Rohit Bal: “There is no doubt they have an individual sense of style and a ‘cool factor’. But will they become real fashion houses? I’m not sure.” For the likes of Bal, the essence of a designer is to push the barriers of fashion. This, of course, is what gives fashion its pulse.
New York’s Diane Von Furstenberg, who started designing in 1970, is often considered the original ‘it’ girl of fashion. Her label is now a multi-million-dollar fashion empire, and she has held the coveted position of Council of Fashion Designer America’s president since 2009; but as far as fashion statements go, she is best known for her easy-to-wear dresses. “They are not couture designers, but are about high pret. There designs are not going to be the trendsetters. But there is nothing wrong with that. Look at how Victoria Beckham is doing internationally,” says Thadhani.
So, while the fashionistas-turned-fashion-designers may not be seen as path-breakers, they can be path-makers in fashion — those who make glamorous clothes that women want to wear.