Red carpet and live concert specialists Falguni and Shane Peacock talk about ‘getting in the zone’ to create high-impact costumes for everyone from Deepika Padukone to Rihanna. By Maegan Dobson Sippy
Designing for red carpet appearances or hit music videos is all in a day’s work for the husband and wife design team of Falguni and Shane Peacock. Known for their heady mix of fluidity and goth accents, they are increasingly sought after by stars—from Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra to Paris Hilton—and most of the pop princess pantheon. We’re talking Jennifer Lopez, Rihanna, Britney Spears, Katy Perry and Fergie. Lady Gaga’s appearance in an outfit straight off the brand’s New York fashion week catwalk is just the latest in celebrity FSP sighting to hit the headlines. Strutting her stuff on a luxury yacht in Sweden, Gaga rocked a sheer white skirt with neoprene applique, but what made an impact were the accompanying sequin-studded bustier and underpants! With FSP firmly on the world stage as it completes its tenth year, we catch up with the talented duo, who reveal their new fabric experiments, plans for a pret collection, and why a work-life balance is out of the question.
Despite their continued international success, Falguni and Shane Peacock work on the philosophy that ‘you’re only as good as your latest collection’, approaching every show with a mix of gusto and trepidation. Their latest collection, Metamorphosis, showcased last month at the New York Fashion Week, ended on a triumphant note—as one of the top 10 looks from over 160 collections showcased, and with a call from Lady Gaga’s stylist before the show had even closed. “It’s all about changing your style, being a rebel, and it’s very different to our previous lines. Less about embellishments and patterns, and with more focus on lines and silhouettes,” shares Falguni, elaborating, “The colours are also very different. We’ve focussed on monotone in a way that we have never done before.”
Beginning with off-whites, the collection moves through blush pinks and midnight blues, before finishing in black, and includes fabrics made up entirely of sequins. Sheer fabrics, as is their trademark, continue to play a dominant role, and unusual combinations include neoprene and tulle. They’ve also devised some new fabrics, including a fusion of rubber and print, that is almost like leather. With attention to detail extending to signature hair and make up, the rebellious theme has been visualised with metal studs along the centre parting, flowing locks, and minimal make up. While all of their outfits make a statement without accessories, what makes an impact are the carefully designed under garments required to make risque and experimental outfits work. “Whenever we introduce sheer fabrics, it becomes an issue, especially here in India. Wearing the wrong under shift can completely alter a piece, so we come up with options and advise clients personally,” says Falguni, recalling how they gave actress and singer Zendaya Coleman some last minute long-distance advice on the black shirt and sheer top combination she’d picked up for a red carpet appearance at a recent LA film premiere.
Art of fusion
Known for effectively fusing western silhouettes with rich Indian techniques and embroidery, FSP was quick to tap into the global fashion scene soon after their Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week debut in 2004. “We get more inspired working in the US, as their sensibilities and culture are more in tune with us,” admits Falguni, who is known for her diplomacy and practical efficiency. “We don’t play by anyone’s rules, and New York just lets us do exactly what we want.” Yet the designer is also quick to credit the skill of Indian artisans, whose craftmanship is crucial to the FSP dresses and body suits for western pop divas. Incorporating applique, beading and techniques such as zardozi, as well as their signature feathers, eclectic prints and sequins, they pass the test of high-octane live concerts. “I couldn’t let a collection go out without sequins,” she jokes. “But they are always tasteful.” With New York feeling like their spiritual home, the only domestic show that they participate in is India Bridal Week. Here, FSP’s strong, glamorous vibe comes through strongly, but it’s light years away from their western range, with its desi lines and colour palette of golds, reds and peaches. “The FSP bride aesthetic is: be confident, it’s your big day,” shares Shane, while Falguni insists that even in their bridal line there’s experimentation and risk-taking. It’s this willingness to think outside the box that unites the diverse FSP strands. “It’s difficult to be honest in today’s world, but you have to in fashion because it is your expression,” says Falguni. “I try not to actively follow anyone else’s style, but that’s the reason Vogue magazine’s Anna Wintour is such an inspiration. She’s got such a signature style and doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her.”
Notorious workaholics, holidays are out of the question for the couple, and relaxation is watching a late night movie at one of the theatres close to their Mumbai studio, before heading back to burn the midnight oil. Even in New York and London, the duo is not active on the party circuit, preferring to “keep (their) heads down, and focus on work.” Acknowledging that it can be a little claustrophobic to work so intensely with your spouse, the designers believe that their creative collaboration lies at the heart of FSP’s success. The more commercial of the two, Falguni has a better sense of what will work in the market, while Shane is more concerned with creativity. “I leave the client-facing bit to Falguni. I am more into ensuring the production of the outfit is done as per details, as I am a perfectionist,” shares Shane. Finding a balance somewhere between the two is the quintessential FSP piece—an item that is a masterpiece in form and execution. While there have been some intense moments when the couple fight out the balance between the two, “it’s usually resolved in amicable discussion and camaraderie,” shares Falguni.
Behind the scenes
Consistently innovating which each new line for A-listers, Falguni admits that coming up with new concepts can be a challenge. “It takes us a good two weeks to devise anything, and we literally need to hibernate to get in the zone, disconnecting from everything going on around us,” she shares. When pressed about a work-life balance, it becomes clear that the two are completely entwined. Designing is all-consuming for the duo. “I like to watch movies or spend time with my daughter Nian and my dog Pepper,” admits Shane, who also hopes to “direct movies and explore (my) creativity in the film industry.” When back in India, time is devoted to their 12-year-old daughter, who attends boarding school, “but is massively connected into” their work. “She’s pretty proud of what we’re doing but also very accommodating. She follows us online, and always remembers to call us on a show day,” shares Falguni.
With exclusive outlets for the collection in the offing in New York and Los Angeles, the pair excitedly reveal plans to launch within the next three months. “The US stores will focus on red carpet gowns and high-end limited edition pieces,” shares Falguni. Perhaps more exciting for their devoted following at home is the revelation that a newly-branded pret collection will be launching online worldwide, and at stores across India, in the next six months. “I can’t give too much away, but it will have a distinct sensibility from our haute couture, and will give fashionistas who aspire to wear our clothing the chance to do so,” Falguni confirms.
Gujarati girl meets Anglo-Indian boy, and the rest, as they say, is history. Falguni shares moments that have defined their career.
■ Our collection in 2005 earned us a call from Harrods. They loved our focus on leopard print and wanted an entire line. We had a 98 per cent sell through
■ Fergie (The Black Eyed Peas) was the first star we designed for, for the FIFA World Cup performance in 2010. With just a week to design four sets of body suits with belts, we were so caught up in the experience that we only realised how massive it was much later
■ Designing for Jennifer Lopez has been a recent high. We have a cut out made in her size, so she can wear our clothes on D-Day with no alterations
How to rock a ‘live concert’ costume
With pop divas from Britney Spears to Katy Perry and Fergie performing live in the Peacocks’ outfits, we find out what makes it perfect each time:
■ There is no room for malfunctions,
and no second chances
■ You have to think about the routine, how they actually move on stage, and how much ‘give’ the fabric has to have
■ When we design for the star multiple times, we incorporate their feedback
■ You can afford to be more elaborate on stage, as the outfit has to have a presence
■ All of the women we design for are confident, prepared to make bold
statements and happy in their own bodies