“If one listens to the trees rustling in the wind at summer evenings silently for a long time, the longing reveals its kernel, its meaning. It is not so much a matter of escaping from one's suffering, though it may seem to be so. It is a longing for home, for our mother, for new metaphors for life. It leads home." (Poet and writer, Hermann Hesse)
These words of Hermann Hesse encapsulates the spirit of 'Leela', a collection of garments launched by fashion designer Pratima Pandey. As summer draws to a close, she captures the last, breezy styles of the season with her magnificent Chanderis, gorgeous Khadis and dazzling handlooms in soft pastel shades and ornate weaves. Each garment captures a spectrum of moods with Parsi, Ari and Dabka work in contemporary cuts and traditional fabrics. Her new line of fine textiles will be available in ‘Collage Shop India’ in Bengaluru.
Explaining the inspiration behind the collection, Pratima, who is an alumnus of NIFT, believes in encouraging craftsmanship and sustainability. Her new line ‘Leela’ is suffused with many moods and is an expression of the unknown and unexplored things of life; of things that can be seen and those which cannot. “In this collection I tried to capture the ‘Leela’ (divine play) of life, which one experiences every moment,” she says.
The Delhi-based designer says that it is difficult to distinguish between a mill-made fabric and a woven one, but there is a world of difference between them. “We have to know our roots,” she says, by way of explanation.
“When you wear a hand-crafted fabric, you will discover that each thread of the garment you are wearing was monitored by the weaver. It is a very humbling experience. These textiles will never lose their charm with time. We, as designers, are trying to educate women about the importance of encouraging the use of handlooms.”
Pratima discovered her love for fashion as a young girl when she was selected for an Indo-French cultural programme when she had to go to Paris and learn about the importance of style. She was so delighted by the experience that she decided to pursue fashion and enrol in NIFT, Delhi, where she did her Master’s too.
Acccording to Pratima, the best inspiration that one can get is from life. “I remember one of my earliest collections called ‘Alice out of Wonderland,” which, for me, was symbolic of leaving one's dreamland and doing all kinds of challenging work in a profession,” she recalls.
Pratima believes in combining art with fashion. She believes she is an artist whose language has extended to her garments. Her USP lies in the gorgeous embroidery on her garments, the beauty of her handlooms, and the layering styles that she loves so much.
She has some tips for those who want to look trendy all-year round. “Always know your style and embrace it. Don’t ape someone else.”
Pratima also advises that you know your body type and identify a style that suits you. Wear this style often, but make sure that you also leave room for experimentation with new and different garments.
“The second tip I would give women is to know their shoes. Plan them as carefully as you would your attire. And finally, do you hair and makeup just right too,” she says.
Above all, the designer believes that women should celebrate life, culture, traditions and the many textures and textiles that the world has to offer. “It is also always important to remember that your clothes are an extension of your personality,” she says.