Designer Anju Modi talks to Team M about her journey and driving the growth of fashion in india, constantly drawing from the wealth of traditional fabrics and techniques. She shares her story of success!
How inspired are you by the rich Indian culture, especially for the bridal collections?
– Before starting my own label I travelled across India to absorb the culture and regional trends that prevail in our country. It was during this travel that I was drawn towards the holistic atmosphere and rich heritage of India. Consequently I learned weaving and delved into the evolving styles and trends of India. Indian culture is an amalgamation of several cultures and has always inspired me to incorporate its various elements into my collection. For instance, for my ‘Devi’ collection in Delhi Couture Week 2012, Bollywood Diva Madhuri Dixit walked the ramp as a ‘Devi’- a woman who is not only lovable, benevolent but energetic and will powered also. I had drawn inspiration from Bengali literature including ‘Charulata’, ‘Devi’, ‘Parineeta’ and ‘Devdas’.and the common theme about all of these literatures was the depiction of a powerful woman as the central character. My upcoming collection for Delhi Couture Week 2013 revolves around Yajnaseni-Draupadi. I have made a determined effort for the portrayal of the epic character and have tried to bring to the surface the broader and deeper aspects of Draupadi through colours, embroidery, prints and varied looks.
How do you manage to bring out Indian flavors and arrays of colors so successfully?
– Colours infuse life into clothes and designers have always tried to communicate through colours-sometimes classic and sticking to the culture, other times bold and edgy. My personal favourite is colour mixing in such a way, that colours portray a trendy, contemporary look coupled with original intuitions. My aim has always been to create colours through mixing which exhibit novelty but at the same time keep the Indian flavours intact.
How important is trial & error in the world of fashion?
The world of fashion is dynamic and thriving at an increasing rate. There is no rule of thumb in the world of fashion. Fashion world demands innovations which can sometimes only be brought on through trial and error method. In a world where the ‘new-in- thing’ can soon become the new out, experimentation and trials are part and parcel because a designer cannot rely on a once successful mantra for all times to come. The challenge faced by a designer is not to imitate a previous or existing look but to create a new look by infusing his own designing and styling abilities.
How significant is the Indian film industry for the Fashion industry ?
Bollywood is one of the most influential mediums in our country today, it connects everyone from all walks of life. It influences fashion trends and amplifies its outreach across borders, Indian cinema and fashion industry have always been intertwined in various ways. Our films have always been a reflection of the evolving trends and style, and the fashion element in the Indian cinema has always played an intrinsic role in defining the essence of the film. For example, a period film cannot be expressed in entirety without the costumes and looks characteristic of the depicting era.
My most recent experience with the Indian cinema was styling Deepika Padukone for the Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s upcoming film Ram Leela. It was a great platform for me to showcase my body of work as the theme of the movie fit perfectly with my design aesthetic. I had to do a 6 month research where I travelled to the interiors of Gujarat as the movie is set in that region, to understand the culture and traditional garments there, to see the costumes the women of the village wore. Antique pieces, intricate embroideries and other elements had to be recreated while ensuring the fashion was infused in the research to create a well put together look for the movie.
Off late, I see a lot of retro inspired looks in the movies. I feel that Bollywood filmmakers find the immense inspiration from the romanticism of the retro look and like to recreate the old world charm.
We would love to know more on Anju Modi’s ‘roots’ as a designer?
Over 15 dedicated years to the fashion institution, I have woven my way through an enriching experience of textile and varied surface treatment working very closely with artists and craftsmen in remote parts of India. I have always tried to amplify the usage of handloom fabrics in my collections.
I take women worldwide either from history, different cultures or from different walks of life, to be my inspiration for my collections. I take women related global issues and translate them into my designs and styling thereby presenting the powerful aura of a confident woman.
I believe in simple statements and understated look, which leaves an impact. I feel that being born in India is the best thing that has happened to me. Creativity is in its soil, which provides an enriching experience to my soul.
My design mantra has always been to dip into the rich heritage that our age old fabrics like handlooms offer and moulds or fashion them to suit the modern sensibilities of today’s woman.