Gearing up for a slice of sunshine – Deepa Chikarmane
‘Sophisticated, passionate and confident is the woman who wears her labels. A go-getter of some kind, the woman wearing my label could be living in a remote town in Rajasthan, or in NYC or Milan‘, says Deepa Chikarmane. As she readies herself for her next collection which is centred on summers and the holiday season, RITZ interacts with the Bengaluru designer who creates Western outfits embellished with a desi touch.
“Indian women’s wardrobes have undergone a radical change in the recent past. Having travelled the world and having experienced newer cultures, women are today more confident of wearing Western outfits. Now give those outfits a slight Indian touch-up with a dash of zardosi or sequins or ethnic embroidery. And voila! You get to sport a complete new look and style,” says Deepa, who started the luxury online brand Encrustd last August along with her husband Vineet.
Women here have a tradition of displaying embellishments, but it’s mostly around ethnic garments. “A Western outfit sprinkled with ikkat patterns, or chikankari, or badla, or gara embroidery could possibly leave a woman wondering whether it would look classy. That’s where my passion lies in providing the right styling to give that right look to make a lady look elegant,” says Deepa. She’s now unravelling her third collection, “which is a holiday range, inspired by women shopping for a holiday wardrobe.”
Her first collection, Revolution, offered fresh perspectives on dressing and style, while the second, Diamonds and Rust, recalled a woman’s reflections and rode on a wave of crystals and sparkle.
Walking on Sunshine, Deepa’s next collection is brimming with summery shades such as ivory, custard, glacier, classic, merlot and so on. It’s aptly designed keeping in mind the woman who is looking for a break and wants to be relaxed, she says, adding that Walking on Sunshine would make a woman feel comfortable, “whether she’s holidaying in a sunny place in India, or in cooler climes in Europe.”
Deepa is well-known for her easy styles, flattering cuts, lovely stretches, fine slits and aesthetic appeal. And for her gara embroidery meets silk trench dresses and her bouquets of chikankari gracing laced up necklines. Could she now provide a glimpse into Walking on Sunshine? “Oh my God! I should not be revealing too much,” laughs Deepa, while adding that this collection is inspired by handloom and would have lots of crystallisedbadla designs and floral motifs.
Having started off by designing and embroidering swatches and giving them an international twist, Deepa has come a long way. She has worked with brands such as Anna Sui and Tory Burch, amongst others. Her work is considered very high on quality, with the fabric being of the best variety. She’s known to source her lace from Italy, silk from India and China, crepe from Korea and handloom cotton from India. And her clientele consists of women who are “sophisticated, passionate and confident and could be living anywhere.” She has dealt with clients from across India and from destinations such as New York City, Milan, London, Singapore, Italy, Sri Lanka, etc.
She tells an interesting anecdote about a customer from Coimbatore who picked up one of her business suits for a fashion industry conference in Milan. “This was a white suit with a lovely cut and had zardozi embroidery on the flaps of the jacket. At Milan, this woman received ample complements on her outfit and her look, and proudly said the brand was an Indian one,” says an ebullient Deepa.
As she goes about expanding her creations and her base, her mantra seems to be: wear-try-see-experience.
“There’s this psyche that ‘Oh God. If I don’t wear such and such brand, then what will my friends say’. People are very conscious of labels. Once they wear-try-see-experience another brand, and get complimented for their look, that’s when they become more open towards trying out newer labels. This is happening and I’m optimistic about more people embracing new brands.”