They are no longer in the fringes of fashion. As architectural earrings, statement necklaces and notice-me bags take centrestage, T. Krithika Reddy catches up with an emerging group of accessory designers in the city
In the in-today-out-tomorrow world of style, statement-making accessories have remained a constant over the recent seasons. No, we are not talking bizarre form-defying bags, fish tank heels and installation art-like earrings, but wearable fashion add-ons that play a stellar role in completing the desired look.
Realising the potential of accessories that balance style with practicality is an emerging group of spunky young designers. From cutting-edge jewellery and bold round-the-clock bags that carry forward trends, these designers have taken on creative and commercial challenges to create their own space in a choices-crammed market.
Rashmi Watwani, bags and jewellery
“Everyone's doing clothes. So, I opted for jewellery. I felt I had a flair for forms, thanks to my Fine Arts background,” says Rashmi Watwani, who showcases her eponymous jewellery label at Evoluzione, Silkworm and Anokhi. Rashmi, who has already tasted success with her designs for the eyeball-grabbing kitsch line of bags under the label Madras Ka Bag Kompany (MKBK), is all set to sparkle in the jewellery market too.
After launching Detach, an edgy and versatile line of neck pieces and bracelets that can be worn any which way you please, she's already into her third line. “Since I display my stuff at different fashion houses in the city, the sensibility and USP of each line is distinct. And, cost-effectiveness being a vital purchase-determining factor among the young, I don't use gold or exorbitantly-priced stones in my collections,” says the designer, who speaks like a pro about the mercurial world of style. Bits and pieces of references form a harmonious collage in the mind of the designer, who has now created a line based on the famed Bani Thani paintings.
Aishwarya Srikkanth, bags
Fashion-forward bags can unmistakably update any outfit. Aishwarya Srikkanth, who retails her label Aishi at places such as Etalage, adds well-thought-out touches to her lines.
“I used to cut up denims and create bags since my days at Stella Maris. So, designing bags was a natural progression. My latest line, Nocturnal, plays with animal prints and is perfect for style-fixated party hoppers. Today, girls don't want to stop with one bag. So, I come up with options in materials, colours and finishes to match their needs,” says the designer, whose creations are hot buys at exhibitions as well. “Bags express so much about the personality and are important to pull off a look.”
Preeti Agarwal, jewellery
“Go inexpensive, still retain the wow quotient” seems to be Preeti Agarwal's design philosophy. The designer, whose collections are available at Ambrosia, says she creates funky and ethnic pieces for a wide age group — from 10 to 50. Besides earrings and chains, she also designs bag charms, mobile chains and trendy anklets. “These fashion extras lend youthfulness and an air of informality,” says the designer, who works on affordable materials. “I want more people to enjoy my jewellery,” smiles Preeti, who launched herself into the world of fashion after picking up the nuances of jewellery design at a formal course in NIFD, Nungambakkam.
Minakshi Rathi, bags
A cool-girl vibe comes through in the creations of Minakshi Rathi. Her bags and clutches with sinuous contours are high-end. “It has to be that way because each piece is hand-crafted and I oversee everything personally — from lining material to overall finish.” With her dad in the leather business, Minakshi was intrigued by the creative options with hide. “I wanted to try out fresh styles and patterns — and here I am, delivering a burgeoning number of custom-made orders and also showing at Grapevine in Adyar. It's a niche market, yet a new avenue to explore creative and business potential,” smiles Minakshi, whose bags are retailed in a couple of fashion houses in Mumbai as well.
Kaushik Velendra, origami-fold adorments
A student at Pearl Academy, Kaushik works as Gatsby's in-house designer as well. A chance work as stylist made him explore creative possibilities with origami folds. The result was a line of versatile neck and waist adornments in fabric. Displaying one of his creations, he shows how it can perk up the neckline of a plain dress or give shape to a shift dress when worn at the waist. “The origami-fold strips add value to simple outfits. They can be worn as a bib necklace or as belts, and these fabric folds add value to understated outfits,” says Kaushik.
Bursting with ideas, these youngsters sure have a sense of seasoned professionalism. While Rashmi believes “design is in the detail”, Aishwarya says “future-focussed” are her operative words. For Kaushik, accessories need to have more uses than one. “Finish” is Minakshi's priority, while for Preeti, accessories have to be “trendy.”
Though the designers are driven by different philosophies and sensibilities, they all agree on staying within the wearability and affordability radar. Jewellery or bags, they stick to tightly-managed price points and strategic design choices with which they can reach out to more people. Fat and frumpy or svelte and sunny, you can still carry a quirky bag or wear sculptured earrings! For, unlike clothes, accessories don't come with strings attached.
How to accessorise
* Don't throw in too many elements. Choose one highlight — a bag, neckpiece or earrings — to make a statement
* Achieve the look of effortless beauty without looking like you've tried too hard.
* For visual interest, you can combine a variety of styles — but carry it off confidently.
* Co-ordinate colours judiciously. If you're playing with contrasts, let it not scream. If you are not comfortable, simply go for neutrals.
* Pairing packs the punch. So, team clothes and accessories with care. If your outfit is too dressy, then pare down accessories and vice versa.
What works this season
Go for layers; they are real showstoppers this season.
Gold and strings of pearl never run out of style. They’ve got wide appeal and suit all skin tones.
Jadau or kundan chockers and earrings can be paired with a sari or a chic dress.
Avant-garde is the way to go, unusual beads and assymetrical jewellery are big this season.
Transformative jewellery, something that gives the wearer more options than one in terms of usability, is in.
The 1950s are back — bright colours, big bows and patent leather. Animal prints are everywhere.
Top handle bags, totes, shoulder bags and oversized clutches are haute.
Beads, sequins and semi-precious studs, faux fur and chain straps add significant touches.