On the quicksand of the fashion world, change is perhaps the only constant. What's in today is out tomorrow, and new labels establish their own set of loyalists with every passing season. While the recently-concluded Chennai International Fashion Week showcased the works of a dozen buzz-worthy designers, one couldn't ignore some fresh faces from the city. Here are six Chennai-based designers who are trying to navigate the fashion world and build their own brands.


Jyothi Rajai, Shanti Dheeraj and Ramya Sekar No, they are not childhood buddies or batch-mates. They got together because of a common passion — fashion. GoGlam, a joint show at Vimonisha in 2009, forged their bond. And, henceforth, the trio who hail from diverse backgrounds haven't looked back. The three shared ramp space at CIFW too — each with her own USP. While Jyothi's heart gravitates towards ethnic silhouettes, Shanti specialises in Western wear. Ramya is keen on perking up the man's wardrobe. With their boundaries clearly outlined, the three youngsters wish to set up shop soon. “It will be a one-stop place for traditional and Western clothes, besides men's wear. Now, who said women can't work together?” they laugh. Madhurya by Jyothi echoes the essence of the Art of Living Foundation — traditional with global appeal. Having worked as merchandiser for Ambattur Clothing Limited, and having designed for films and beauty pageants, Jyothi has an eye for Indian crafts and weaves. La Stilista by Shanti is about glamorous Western wear for women. “They are clothes you can wear to parties. They are feminine, sexy and naughty,” says the designer, who has completed her Masters in Fine Arts and also done a fashion diploma course in Milan. Intrigue by Ramya takes a detour to hit the surprise road to men's wear. “Yes, there's a sprinkling for women too. But there aren't many choices for men; so, I've tried to focus on this segment,” says the engineering graduate, who created shirts with hand-painted abstract art for CIFW.

Twist and don't shout

Mehaj Ismail was keen on pursuing fashion from a very young age. Having started retail a year ago at Rutland Gate, the youngster believes in the beauty of fabric and fusion. “My line for CIFW was called Twist of Style. The Indo-Western line comprised cocktail clothes in deep hues. There's plenty of workmanship and the embellishment doesn't shout. I like my customers to have a feel of the fabric before they take a call on my made-to-order option. Showing at CIFW gave me a lot of confidence.”

Festive feel

She's been quietly working from her unit in Anna Nagar for over 15 years. But, Anuradha Bisani didn't think twice when opportunity came in the form of CIFW. “It was a great platform for me to display my creativity. My collection (saris, ghagras and salwar suits) echoes the essence of Indian festivals — colour and richness. It's about traditional styles tweaked to suit modern tastes. My idea is to make a woman feel confident.”

Two worlds

“Both are me,” says designer Richa Kapoor, as she talks about her collection that's a mixed bag of funky and conventional clothes. After dabbling in the worlds of marketing, modelling and acting, Richa wanted to follow her dream of creating clothes and retailing them. Her collection, “Opulence for the Diva”, showcased at CIFW was her attempt to pay tribute to Indian royalty. The collection was about rich fabrics and intricate craft techniques. “My long-term plan is to juggle two worlds — both traditional and modern — with my designs. After showing at CIFW for two seasons, I'm now confident about showing my clothes at other fashion weeks as well.”