Designer Hari Anand Talks About His Journey Into the World of Fashion!
As this young boy browsed through his history textbook, what caught his attention was the perfectly designed jacket worn by Jawaharlal Nehru! Fashion has been a constant source of intrigue for him since then – driving him to observe, explore, innovate and design some of the most iconic and exotic fashion revolutions like the linen saree, pleated saree, short kurta…the list is endless! His international partnership with Patti Stren, noted animation artist based in New York led to three Avant-garde printed fashion series called Alphabets, Sex and the City and Karma couture. Amidst clients, calls and a busy schedule, RITZ catches up with Kerala’s master craftsman and fashion guru, Hari Anand.
Kochi’s very own ‘Fashion Icon’, Hari Anand recently launched yet another store at Convent Road, Kochi, which offers a 360 degree fashion experience. Spread across 4000 sq ft, the store showcases an exclusive collection of bridal wear, casuals and formals for men and women apart from a beautiful range of fabrics. Accessories like velvet brogues, stunning suit pins, knitted bow ties, silk scarves, jewellery, incense, body care products and an exquisite Lladro collection adorn the display.
Anand started his career with big names like Tarun Tahiliani and Givenchy. Eventually, in 1992, he started his own fashion line, ‘Glada’, his first experiment with Kochi. It had designer outfits from Mumbai, priced at Rs 15,000. Though very pricey for those times, it was received well by a niche clientele who understood fashion and related to his designs.
He has over 100 fashion shows to his credit but the ones that are closest to his heart are the shows he did for Fashion TV. He explains that while fashion shows are standalone shows curated by the designer, fashion weeks are an eye opener. “It’s much bigger as you get to charm an entire city or state – there are a lot of designers, fashionistas and media who witness your work on a platform that is shared by other designers. You get to test the waters then!” he grins. When asked about his experience in designing for celebrities, he says that stars already have an aura. A simple Kerala dhoti worn by Amitabh Bachchan will be an instant fashion statement. “In India, movies set the benchmark for fashion, it reaches out to the common man and so designers need stars to endorse their creations. But abroad, the ‘garment’ is the showstopper. For the designer in me, the challenge and fulfilment lies in creating a star out of every client who walks into my store,” he says.
There is a designer in every household and boutiques are bourgeoning at the blink of an eye. So what are the challenges for fashion designers? “There is plenty of risk and investment involved. While there are design institutes, there are no formal training centres for artisans, who are fast becoming extinct in our country. Likewise, there is immense talent in the rural areas but unfortunately, knowledge doesn’t reach them simply because a majority of our books are not in the local language. If you look at China or Japan, their mother tongue is the primary language and hence people have access to knowledge in any subject. I also feel that our fashion R&D is not strong enough. There is immense potential but Indian designers are not trained for a global platform.”
How has fashion changed in the last two decades? Earlier, fashion was purely based on seasons but now it has diversified into bridal, pret, corporate and even resort wear. “My inspiration for design lies in observing the environment around me. There needs to be a unique story board for every season. On one occasion, I created embroidery designs by watching a truck that carried iron rods – for it left an intense image in my mind,” he smiles with a twinkle in his eye. “We address social issues through our work – We have imbibed stories of extinct wildlife species and climate change in our fashion mood boards. A recent one, being a collection that has embroidered images inspired by the circus, an art that originated in Thalassery, Kerala, but is unfortunately fast becoming inexistent now. In the end, every new collection is an improvisation of the earlier collections.”
He’s been there and done that, so what’s next? Image consulting for the bridal couple is what excites this pioneer now. Every aspect of their special day, from clothes to jewellery, makeup, hair, accessories to even music and photography will be based on a story board exclusively designed, supervised and masterminded by Hari Anand himself. “That’s going to be my next forte!” he beams as Alka, his daughter and a fashion designer herself walks in with yet another client!
Fashion Definition: Fashion is like the wind, you can’t see it but you can feel it!
Fashion Mantra: Minimalism – Simple yet Elegant!
Garment is: Your signature
Favourite Colour: Black & White
Interests: Art, Gardening, Cooking
Message to young designers: Be Original!