Siblings in style

Tickled pink It is important for Gauri (right) and Nainika Karan to work within their design philosophy

Tickled pink It is important for Gauri (right) and Nainika Karan to work within their design philosophy   | Photo Credit: Photo: K. Gopinathan

Designer sisters Gauri and Nainika Karan tell AYESHA MATTHAN their couture mantra is passionate, feminine and purely Western

They sashayed in a soft pink palette of taffeta, duchesse satin and flowing chiffons and swished passed you in nipped-in waists, draped bodices and dramatic hemlines.

Wearing dreamy, faraway smiles, Hollywood actresses of the 1950s, from Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly to Hedy Lamarr traipsed around like powder-pink ghosts in a surreal reel at Haute Compote Blush, an evening dedicated to creations of a designer around their chosen colour.

Young Delhi-based designer duo Gauri and Nainika Karan presented “Resort ‘09”, styled by Elle’s Deputy Fashion Editor Ananda Khanna, showcased by Kaveri Choda and Harathi Reddy, joined by models Pashmeena Barker and Jackie Shetty and hosts Ashvin Mathew and Kirtana Kumar at Olive Beach.

Curly-locked Gauri and Nainika of wavy tresses grew up watching old Hollywood films. Recalls Gauri: “We have always been close. Working together in a creative field was the next step, and we chose fashion. Nainika studied economics and has an MBA degree. Then we studied the basics of fashion at NIFT, Delhi, together. When we set up our label ‘Gauri and Nainika’ in 2002, the Indian market didn’t offer clothes of this sensibility. At the time there was only bridal and trousseau wear, and we didn’t want to get into that line. Nobody designed gowns and dresses seven years ago. Our clothes are passionate, feminine and purely Western.”

Nainika, as her sister shares, handles the illustrations, construction, concepts and technology of the process of design. “Our collection is romantic and glamorous. Urban, upper-class Indian women were ready to experiment, and today, they wear dresses.”

Resort ’09 is an offshoot collection released after the Fall-Winter and before the Spring-Summer Collection. Say the two, “Our Fall-Winter collection painted royal colours from purple to magenta. The months of December and January is a time when people are holidaying and travelling, which is precisely why this is called the ‘Resort’ collection. Unlike a ramp show, this is not a 40-piece collection and hence, the colour pink works well as we could work in one palette.”

They add that the collection that was showcased was not meant to be a big affair, but have a more intimate and approachable affect. “You can actually get a closer glimpse at the outfits.” They feel they have grown in their field and are constantly evolving as designers. “An earlier collection called ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ was elaborate and theatrical with gothic elements and even had music. Another had fresh, floral prints and a third drew inspiration from the seaside, particularly the Mediterranean.”

It is important for the sisters to stick to their design philosophy and work within that. Shares Gauri: “We work with pure fabrics from satin, taffeta, French lace, pure cotton to silk that are feminine and delicate and indicate luxury in the drape and quality.” Nainika says that travel inspires their work — from museums, paintings, art, fashion, history, books, and movies of a certain time period to pictures of their mother in the 70s.

“Beauty inspires us. But our biggest inspiration is our mother. She was a very different woman, ahead of her time, working, liberated and very glamorous. We were mesmerised by her style of wearing big sunglasses, skinny jeans, tight shirts and red lipstick!”

They stress that fashion and clothes should only be an extension of your personality. Nainika emphasises: “As Mosch said: ‘Tell me what you wear, and I’ll tell you who you are’.” Gauri and Nainika also believe that Western fashion trends should not be followed as status symbols in terms of the colour and cut. “Indian designers should mix and match, as is evident in the flea market.”

Designing for the Indian woman, they say has changed. “They’ve become figure conscious, but we have a well-proportioned style chart that suits every body type in the different silhouettes, from petite and small to full-figures with broad hips, that suits both our European and Indian clients.”

Gauri and Nainika believe that their designs meant only for occasions and are a reflection of their style, sensibility and lifestyle. “We are constantly designing simple, elegant clothes that speak volumes as red carpet gowns.”

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