A Designer to Watch Out For!: Deepika Pillai

With her porcelain skin and beautiful features, Deepika could easily play muse to designers. But the lovely lady turned a fashion designer herself a year ago, with her eponymous brand, Deepika Pillai. A big fan of juxtaposition, she blends Indian fashion ideologies with western silhouettes in a bid to change the perspective of Indian traditional attires. Having showcased at the Madras Couture Fashion Week and the Madurai Fashion Week, Deepika ensures her range is always relatable and wearable. In this candid first person account, Deepika talks to RITZ about her latest line, her USP, inspirations and what ails Indian fashion.

Hair&Makeup: Susan from Oryza St Marys

Wardrobe Courtesy: Amethyst

Location Courtesy: Amethyst

The Beginning

“If you look at all the great names in global fashion each one of them has a sensibility all his or her own. They didn’t look at what existed and tweak it. They threw it out of their mental wardrobe and invented anew. Design when it is pathbreaking, isn’t about giving people what they want. It is creating what you want and waiting for people to begin to covet it. That is the difference between an artist and a fabricator. Artists don’t cater to a market; they create an audience for their wares.

I began quite recently, a little more than a year ago. My journey began as a reflection of thought. To get creative and form an eponymous brand – that’s where it all started. The motivation came from family and friends to carve a niche for myself, to make my label known to the world. Inspiration came from the many Indian designers who’ve crossed international barriers and made a name for themselves. I admire designers like Donatella Versace, John Galliano, Coco Chanel, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana and others. Closer home, I admire the work of designers like JJ Valaya, Ritu Kumar, Tarun Tahiliani, Abu Jani-Sandeep Khosla and others.

Deepika’s USP

My USP has been about mixing quirky trends in wearable formats that are priced comfortably yet competitively. I make ramp ready styles that can be worn by voluptuous women, not just model sizes. I use colours that go with the Indian skin tone like different tones of beige, soft pinks, browns, earthy tones and whites, of course. I enjoy dabbling with taffeta, tweed, peau de soie and panne in addition to cashmere, chiffons, silks and the most versatile cottons.

Her Muse and Inspiration

My ideal muse would be Bollywood star Sunny Leone. As controversial as that sounds, I think the ravishing actress has the right mix of good looks, killer attitude, a body to die for and the confidence to glam up any design and make it look like a million bucks on her. She has the voluptuousness of the Indian woman and my brand caters to the same body type. Size zero has never appealed to me and I have never tailored to suit such body types although we’ve dressed up fashion week models and the like.

The potential I see all around me in India inspires me and keeps me going. Even before we go global, why not tap the huge market potential in India? Why can’t we produce the indigenous Zaras and the Mangos? Look at Couture. Why are Canali and Zegna selling the Nehru jacket or Hermès and Cavalli, the sari? Because they see that Indian wear means big bucks. Look at Indian editions of international publications; they are full of international brands. We need to position ourselves similarly across the globe. If you tell people something is in vogue long enough and loud enough, they will begin to buy it as the Gospel Truth. If you look at content in all the premier design publications it is growing less and less Indian. International brands. Western silhouettes. How on earth can indigenous talent bloom if we are constantly telling the consumer that Indian isn’t as stylish as its western counterpart? This is how abominations like ball gowns at Indian weddings have come about.

Way forward

I’ve styled a couple of A-list celebrities who have worn my brand. I am interested in working with more of them in films. We also plan to expand into and dabble in men’s wear. Irrespective of our growth, label Deepika Pillai will remain exclusive yet affordable. I also plan to make my collections available online on e-commerce platforms very soon.

Deepika or Priyanka – who is the better dresser?

 Deepika, undoubtedlyWho looked the best in Cannes – Aishwarya, Sonam or Deepika?

Ash is a winner every year. This year especially, she absolutely killed it!

Ever been to a party and joked about badly dressed people? Tell us about it.

Yes, we have laughed at faux pas but again to each their own. People need to be more aware of current styles and not risk it by experimenting too much with what doesn’t suit them.Most comfortable designing?

Indian wear, especially the sari. I’ve styled it in innumerable ways unrecognisable to its roots!

Best dressed women?

Aruna R Krishnan from the RITZ family herself. I’ve been a huge fan of hers way before we got to be friends. She can carry off big brand names with such aplomb and ease – she’s almost like an ambassador of international fashion as she is drenched in designer brands almost always. Friends of Aruna’s would relate to this quite easily. I’ve admired her style statement innumerable times. She styles herself impeccably well to compliment and flaunt that figure we all die for!

Nayantara is one south star who kills it both on and off screen. She’s been through a radical makeover and is a style icon of the south films with the looks and attitude to carry off any thing she experiments with. Naturally, she is one of the best dressed stars.

On a pan-India level, Sunny Leone is fit, fierce and has risen from the ashes of criticism – a reflection of label Deepika Pillai