Chennai's top-notch designer Rehane to participate in Indian Premier London Fashion Week

She put Chennai on the national fashion map way back in 2003. Now, the city's famous designer Rehane Yavar Dhala hopes to make an impression in the international fashion circuit as well by participating in the first season of the Indian Premier London Fashion Week.

“Anatolia”, her latest line showcased at the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week recently, travels to the West for the pageant scheduled this week. A collection that celebrates the design aesthetic of Asia Minor with distinct Turkish flourishes, “Anatolia” is quintessentially Rehane. It displays a deft mix of embroidery and hand craft techniques and plays with texture, colour and silhouette. Incidentally, London is one of the two international destinations Rehane is excited about currently. Last weekend, her clothes were selected to be showcased at “Blueprint”, a trade exposition organised in Singapore. In a free-wheeling chat, the oh-so-thrilled designer speaks about her London dreams. Excerpts:

The Next big thing

Yes, for me, it's London. A very trend-centric market, I'm happy to be showing there. I'm looking at London from a purely business perspective. There's a market out there for those who experiment with fashion — which is what I'm doing. A bunch of new-age designers from India are participating in the event that opens with Rohit Gandhi-Rahul Khanna and closes with Narendra Kumar Ahmed.

Double agents!

I've tied up with two major agents who will liaise with the buying houses in the West. When I mean business, it makes sense to identify the right routes. And this is the first big step I've taken. They are positive about the reception to my clothes in the West, so soon I'll see my clothes filling up some racks in the stores in London. Production pressure will shoot up. But I've taken the plunge. And the West is very stringent and unforgiving when it comes to quality, so I can't take chances. There are a hundred other players out there. And I know I'm not John Galliano!

All about Anatolia

It has a very Turkish influence. The silhouettes are fresh and a whole lot of textures and embroidery has been used. Intricate cutwork patterns run through a major part of the line. I've done layering using striped fabrics for visual interest. From the soft shimmer of twill silk and georgette, the line progresses to a velvet-predominant section that appeals to the overseas market. It's a huge jump in terms of sensibility, but that's how fashion works. What appeals locally is not what clicks abroad. I can say that from my experience with my clued-in clientele in the Middle East as well.

Cheap chic?

No way. If foreign buyers look at Indian designers as the go-to for cheap chic, I'd wish to correct them. They must understand that what they get is a fine package that includes fine cuts, exciting palette, stylish silhouette, good finish and luxurious fabric. All this with the most exquisite handwork!

Fashion is fun

I've no lofty vision when I'm doing a line. I simply follow my heart. I'm having a lot of fun with fashion. The fashion pageants have taught me that you can't please everyone and that there is a market for everything — from crazy to classy. I will continue with my adventures in fashion.

Changing Chennai

It's great to see people taking to fashion as a profession — rather than a pastime. Gone are the days when women cleared their backyard, hired two tailors and had an aunt to supply stuff from Hyderabad or Kolkata. Now, they are open to taking risks, renting out spaces and establishing themselves professionally. There's a sea change in attitude thanks to the burgeoning market. Everyone wants a piece of exclusivity!

Close to my heart

This is the city that gave me all. It makes me proud to represent this southern city at an international pageant. But looking beyond fashion, I want to be part of any endeavour to clean up the Cooum. Also, I would love to see a textile museum set up in Chennai. Our unique cotton weaves, Kancheepuram silks, Madras checks… there must be a museum to preserve their history.

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Tale pieceMay 19, 2010