Friday, October 7, 2022

Structure and Flow | Verve Magazine

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Text by Shirin Mehta. Photographs by Mallika Chandra and Asad Sheikh

Luminous whites. Deep reds. Draped bows and necklines. Diaphanous embroideries. Creamy fabrics. And, of course, the “luxury pret” label’s signature 3D geometry blended with soft draping, highlight structured silhouettes and inspired cuts and fits.

Designers Alpana Neeraj speak to Verve following their presentation….

Tell us a little about the overarching theme of your collection and how it’s different from your pre-pandemic showcases.
So, the collection was a celebration of coming back to life post-pandemic, and we wanted to showcase clothes that were functional and yet had a bit of an aspirational vibe and fantasy. Post-pandemic, a lot of people realised that excess is not needed and that there is joy in simplicity and minimalism. Pre-pandemic, our garments had a lot more fantasy elements, whereas this time we’ve kept it simpler while still retaining that bit of drama.

Your designs tend to be minimalistic from an overall perspective, but still include plenty of voluminous proportions and details. How do you strike the balance between the two?
The brand has been known to design pieces that are often larger than life and almost theatrical in construction. This time we kept it relatively minimal. We felt that the beauty of the design lies in its fit, and that’s what we tried to do. We created a lot of drapes and shoulder pads and geometric corsets, and these kind of molded into more wearable silhouettes. We made sure that these elements weren’t in places where you had to bend or sit. That’s how we tried to strike the balance.

What are some of the signature pieces in this collection that define the Alpana Neeraj aesthetic to a T?
Amalgamating 3D geometric construction along with flowy fabrics, taming volumes with constructed drapes has been signature. These techniques involve precision pattern making, technicalities that go into achieving perfect angles in 3D on different bodies. It takes finesse to bring together two opposite elements and each garment needs a lot of minute inspection, molding and heat setting to ensure that it ends up looking great.

This is Alpana Neeraj’s first skincare inspired showcase with Lakmé Lumi Cream. What are some of the core characteristics you share amongst yourselves that we can expect to see via this collaboration?
The Lakmé Lumi Cream is a very versatile product because it combines skincare and beauty into one. It thereby almost eliminates the need for two separate steps while promising to deliver a 3D glow as part of the highlighting element of it, which gives that entire lit-from-within glow and spotlights your best features. The Alpana Neeraj brand shares that same ideology. Being unapologetic, functional, fuss free, serves as the functional skincare aspect of the Lakmé Lumi Cream while complementing the cream’s highlighting glow are the 3D elements in our outfits that bring in glitter, glamour and shine.

Are you into sustainability at all or is that not a consideration in the kind of work that you do?
There are many different ways of running a sustainable business, and each brand identifies with one segment. We make sure we don’t use leather, and if we do, it’s faux or vegan. The second is operating with fair trade, not employing anyone who is underage. Another aspect is having compassion and kindness towards the craftsmen and artisans. For example, during the pandemic we had decided that we wouldn’t lay off any artisans so that their livelihoods were not affected. We’ve also tried to curate well-edited collections to reduce as much waste as possible by trying to increase the lifespan of collections in order to not over produce. We try to do the best we can in our own little way to contribute to being sustainable as much as possible.

Is this collection very different from the ones showcased in Paris and Milan? How?
I would say that this collection is very evolved because we keep growing as individuals and creative people through almost every life experience, and that’s why I don’t think comparing this collection to our previous showcases would be very fair. You kind of keep graduating and your identity unravels as you learn new things in business and in the world of design. So, it’s definitely different.

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