Kolkata girl takes American fashion world by storm
• What is KAHINI?
KAHINI to me is the story of fashion and style. I wanted to be a fashion designer and have my own boutique from the age of 14. After graduating from Jadavpur University, I went to NIFT to learn about fashion designing and the fashion industry. After spending 20 years, working for big names like Nike and Nordstrom, I decided to take a risk and try and make my childhood dreams come true, to have my own boutique. It has been very rewarding and challenging, but I am so glad I did it.
• How do you define your brand?
KAHINI as a brand is classy, sophisticated and glamorous. We cater to festive crowds too, specially NRIs who love wearing western dresses or Indo-western dresses for Diwali. Christmas is all about parties and red-carpet events. KAHINI has a lot of beautiful long dresses, elaborate ball gowns and cocktail dresses for this season. Also, our silk and sequin scarves and wraps do well, as they can be worn with western and Indian dresses alike.
• Do you have any preference for Bengal cotton and handloom fabrics, though your brand is more about Western dresses?
I love the Kantha stitch work and cotton fabrics of Bengal. Some of my ready to wear collection, use fabrics from Bengal and prints have a tribal influence. Some of the black printed skirts I have done as a part of my fusion wear collection, also uses Bengal cotton. I am planning to incorporate some of the Kantha stitch work in my next collection.
• Do you source your raw materials from India?
A lot of my couture collection is sourced from India. I love the rich textures of fabrics and intricate embroidery and beadwork. A lot of my silk dresses or bead work on my de-signs are sourced from India. I have worked with a workshop in Kolkata and Bangalore. I make a sourcing trip to India almost every year. Since I carry jewelry in my store, some of the jewelry is also made in India. People in USA love silk fabrics and Indian embel-lishments. Intricate embroidery, beading, mirror work that you see in lot of high fashion designer dresses are influenced by traditional India handiwork.
• You have participated in many Western fashion shows. How have you felt there as an Indian designer?
Most people think I do not look like an Indian! They feel I am from South-east Asia or Latin America. There is a general perspective in the West, that Indians can only be engi-neers, doctors, professors etc, but not fashion designers! So, they are in for a surprise. I have participated in many fashion shows like Model Search Fashion Show, Bellevue, WA, Paint the Runway Purple, Portland, Ville Magazine Style Night, Seattle, WA Seattle Fashion Week, Seattle, WA, Fall Fashion at the Market Place, Bellevue, WA and been featured in western media. The fashion circuit in the West has embraced me and I had to work hard to make myself seen in the fashion world.
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