Describing her target demographic as nomadic cosmopolites, Rashmi Varma started off her working life as an interior designer. But soon moved to fashion to follow her long held dream. With roots from Jharkhand and Bihar, Varma grew up in Montreal but her garments are true to her Indian origins and hold a certain respect for the traditional artisan craft culture.
“Versatile and elegant, like the woman who wears the clothes, fluid silhouettes and trans-seasonal styles travel easily around the world. Richly textured designs explore the pleating and draping traditions of India combined with a myriad hand-crafted techniques,” explains Varma of her label.
Committed to working with craft organisations as well as directly with artisans throughout India, Varma plays with simple, non-fussy fabrics and transforms them into elegant pieces that can easily make the cut across runways all around the globe. She mainly uses fabrics like khadi and cotton and experiments with interesting silhouettes that are innovative and on the pulse of high fashion trends.
Her Spring Summer 2015 line explores the regional hand-crafts with handwoven fabrics such as khadi denim, kala cotton and mashru, all sourced from little pockets in Gujarat. “I made a trip to Kutch earlier last year and found the use of mirror work and geometric patterns very exciting! We also work with weavers in West Bengal for our khadi. Hand-dyed natural indigo, based on ancient dyeing practices is a colour that we have celebrated in the collection,” she shares.
On the edge
We highly recommend the Bihar-Kutch sari dress, featuring black digital striped prints against a warm white background for the traditional fashionista. For something a little less experimental, we suggest the mustard yellow or ‘haldi’ midi A-line dress, which is embellished with hand-embroidered jaal work on silk habotai that runs across the torso and all the way down the middle. We were also taken with the blinding white, crisp hira khadi shirt dress, well crafted with a wide white belt (that enhances the smallness of the waist), hand-embroidered chikankari jaal work and front pockets.
Apart from fashion, Varma also works in film and theatre, always choosing to use fabric as her medium. Apart from designing costume for notable directors, while working extensively on Canadian and Hollywood film and TV productions, the young designer’s designs and installations have been showcased at the Museum of Canadian Contemporary Art, The Design Exchange and The Textile Museum of Canada.
Rs.10,000 upwards. At En Inde, New Delhi. Details: 011 49050832
Back to basics
Bengaluru-based e-commerce website Styletag.com goes old school with a brick and mortar store at Orion Mall. The e-retailer aims to tap into malls’ heavy footfall to direct traffic to its website. “This is primarily a brand building and awareness exercise. But since our little experiment has received a great response, the offline venture is here to stay,” shares Sanjay Shroff, founder and director.
Christened StyleCafe, the kiosk replicates an actual retail page on the web with an attractive 3D design. “The idea is to make people who enter the kiosk feel like they are inside a web page and get an idea of what StyleTag is all about,” explains Shroff. The see-through glass enclosure is offset with trendy black grid lines. A highlight here is the interactive life-sized touchscreen, at the entrance, which enables customers to explore the site, place orders and download QR Codes to avail a wide range of offers.
At the moment, the kiosk stocks garments, shoes, bags and accessories from their in-house brand Vero Couture, with their ethnic line, Amiti expected by mid-February. While Vero Couture offers a mix of everything from Bohemian to dressy to formal, the ethnic line will start off with casual, ready-to-wear apparel. We spotted a chevron monochrome maxi dress in polyester, a great buy for the impending summer months. A pair of crimson ballerinas with a thin bow caught our eye too, as did a simple red and white striped shirt that you can either dress up with black trousers or dress down with skinny jeans.
In the pipeline
The plan is to be present across 50 to 100 venues, at spaces that qualify as high-traffic zones in Bengaluru, apart from cities like Delhi-NCR, Mumbai before expanding to tier II cities, where they have a huge customer base. With over two decades of experience in the offline retail business with Ffolio on Vittal Mallya Road, Shroff is confident about making this venture a success.
Rs. 399 upwards. At Rajajinagar. Details: styletag.com —RR