“I am particularly drawn to the Victorian era and I almost feel like I have a connection to that age from a past life. I’m extremely taken by shows like Downton Abbey, and books like Pride & Prejudice. There is just something about the romanticism, simplicity, and conduct of the period that draws me to it.”
How is fashion in India evolving and influencing the global fashion scene?
When we started out 18 years ago, there was a vacuum in the space for modern Indian clothes for the younger generation. The only options for young women was to get something stitched by the neighborhood tailor or alter their mother’s outfits. Going from there to now with big fashion weeks in India, social media, international buyers and bloggers flocking to India, I would say Indian fashion has become a major player and influencer in the international fashion scene.
Now I see an increasing number of designers catering to a global consumer who wishes to wear her tradition with a dash of modern insouciance.
What has been the most defining moment of your career so far?
The first mainstream outfit that I designed was for the ‘Shoppers Stop Designer of the Year’ show at the age of 15. It was a cream anarkali with a black cropped jacket that was worn by Aishwariya Rai Bachchan. It turned out to be the winning garment, and even after so many years, continues to be a defining moment in my career as it validated my choice of fashion as a career.
What are you fascinated by at the moment and how does it feed into your designs?
I am currently intrigued by the dark romanticism typically associated with murder mysteries and this has manifested itself in my summer 2017 collection ‘Lady M.’ This collection is in particular inspired by Agatha Christie’s 'Death on the Nile,’ its dazzling costume display, and is a nod to the nuanced finesse of high society dressing in the late 1930s.
Do you have a specific research process before you start a new project?
My design process works in reverse to the norm. Silhouettes are the first thing that excite me—this is the first aspect I choose. I then move on to the embroidery and fabric, with the colour palette being chosen last.
While designing for fashion week is a more streamlined process, I’m constantly looking for inspiration all through the year, and [then] put these together in 3-4 collections a year. I’m forever scouring through Pinterst, taking down notes, sketching in my diary. My design process is a bit erratic, but there is a method to the madness, and that is what gives every piece its essence and ties it together.
I can’t design in isolation; it’s not just about the sketch for me. For a design to become a reality, it needs to be approached with a 4D attitude. You need to think about the person who will wear your design, the occasion it is meant for, the trend it takes a cue from; the colours, fabrics, and textures it utilizes, how comfortable it is, and whether it is within a justifiable budget. I believe in looking at the entire picture.
What inspires you the most in fashion?
I am a very visually driven person, and textures and patterns (often from art, architecture, jewellery, intricate patterns, and vintage costumes), inspire me. It’s also the excitement to translate these into something wearable. To create something concrete and see a concept turn into a reality also drives me. I am particularly drawn to the Victorian era and I almost feel like I have a connection to that age from a past life. I’m extremely taken by shows like Downton Abbey, and books like Pride & Prejudice. There is just something about the romanticism, simplicity, and conduct of the period that draws me to it.
I am also influenced by lifestyle and people—for me it’s all about visualizing how someone would wear my outfit and adapt it to their needs.
Biggest fashion blunder any bride and groom can make?
Having pre-conceived notions about what and what not to wear is the biggest mistake brides and grooms can make. Don’t be lazy or fixated about what works. Be open-minded and try on as many styles as you can before making the final purchase.
It’s important not to be a fashion victim. Dress according to your body type and choose something you’re comfortable in. Make a note of colours that have always looked good on, and try and choose from that palette, so that there’s no going wrong with the end result.
What can we expect from Payal Singhal for 2017?
I am starting the year with my first solo show at Lakme Fashion Week in February. Inspired by the dark romanticism of the murder mystery 'Death on the Nile’ by Agatha Christie, this Summer 2017 collection is a nod to the nuanced finesse of high society dressing in the late 1930s.
2017 will be an exciting year for our brand — we are revamping our online store for a more enhanced experience and have also launched our quarterly in-house magazine called PS Diary.