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Aesthetics of fashion

Vinita Pittie's penchant for creativity is reflected in her designs. One of the city's foremost designers, she talks about her journey so far and has few tips for upcoming designers.

TREND SETTER: Vinita Pittie

AS A child I was intrigued and fascinated by colour. Although I was born in Calcutta, my father migrated to Bangalore when I was about seven-years-old. After marriage, I settled down in Hyderabad. My entry into the field of design in the late Eighties was due to constant encouragement by my husband. My mother, too, acted as a catalyst in this process.

My forte lay in mixing colours. As a child, I painted in watercolours. Noticing the creative streak in me, my husband felt I could do much more. After my son grew up, I took to designing. I began against all odds. Everyone at home was worried whether I would succeed. I did have apprehensions and was not worried by rejection in this field but I was worried about what I would choose if I failed here.

The fashion industry was hardly existent at that time. It was difficult to find tailors. But the thought of giving up never occurred even once. I realised that to be recognised in Hyderabad, one had to be recognised outside the city. This strategy worked. For my first exhibition in Calcutta, I did shaded mulmuls with kadhi prints and Hyderbadi khada dupattas. And there were subsequent exhibitions in other metros. The turning point was when Sanjna Kapoor modelled my clothes.

Since then, I have grown in strength as a person with more experience.

I established my workshop with one tailor and one karigar from Mumbai. We gave them a place to stay and they networked and found more. Today, my workshop has grown to include eight embroidery artists, one printer, four tailors, a seamstress and a handyman.

Shapes, drapes and colours inspire me when I design. My passion to draw motifs spontaneously helped me to make a mark. I like to use colour combinations. For instance, I mix pista green with shocking pink, turquoise blue with green and white, and golden yellow.

MAN IN BLACK: Exquisite motifs transform the kurta.

For the first few years, I worked with only fabrics like Mangalagiri and Uppada from Andhra Pradesh. Ghanshyam Sarode, a weaver in the city, complied with my specifications and designs for fabrics. Though the orders were not delivered on time, I managed to continue. Then I started sourcing other fabrics like Tussar from Madhya Pradesh, brocade and tissue from Banaras and georgettes and chiffons from Bangalore.

A major show in the early Nineties, based on ancient costumes of India, was one I can never forget. Scripted by Gulzar, the show (held at Mumbai and Calcutta) had music and dance by maestros like Bismillah Khan, Amjad Ali Khan, Zakir Hussain, Birju Maharaj and Jagjit Singh. I stepped in when Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla did not participate. I had just a week to prepare for this and it was then I realised that nothing is impossible. We worked day and night (almost 18 hours) to produce the clothes on the themes of `princesses after a bath in Ganga' (yards of white crushed cottons were used), `shringar' (yellow was predominant), `Wajid Ali Shah's durbar' (it was all glitter) and `shama' (black and gold was the main colour) which were worn by top models like Mehr Jessia and Noyonika Chatterji to name two.

A few other shows like Femina and CitiBank followed. For the latter show, I designed kurtas - one part of which was long enough to be a dupatta worn across the shoulder. I customise clothes for my clients. I have dressed many brides and done their make-up too. Make-up was something I was interested in since school days. I retail at a few stores in the country like `Melange' and `Signature' in Mumbai, and will start shortly at `Intrigue' (Kolkata). My penchant for designing extends to jewellery as well, which I do on a limited scale.

FUSION FASHION: Bold colour combinations are Vinita's trademark.

I used to read a lot and particularly enjoyed reading Thomas Hardy, Ayn Rand and Agatha Christie. Now, I do not find much time.

I believe everyone is born a designer in India. My mantra for upcoming designers: Do not fear to dream. Build your castles in the air but, as Thoreau expressed, lay the foundations beneath strong. Reach out and move across the expanse to identify how you balance your idea with the predominant need. It is so easy to just follow trends but you are here to set them, and not merely follow them. It is appropriate to continue working hard without any anticipation of rewards. Adhere to your schedule like a dogma for you need to deliver your goods on time. Be ethical in your dealings because you want your client back.


(The writer is one of the leading fashion designers in the city.)

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