(Photo:cheap formal dresses)

Completing two decades in an industry obsessed with the “next big who” is no mean task, especially if you are the sort who loves to duck the spotlight. Yet, Mumbai-based designer Priyadarshini Rao, who celebrates 20 years in fashion this year, has no regrets about being a recluse in the social media-obsessed age of fashion. She’s “removed from the trappings of fashion, and enjoys it immensely”. She also believes in letting her work do the talking.

“I can’t network or bring attention to myself. I live a simple life. I have learnt that being true to what you do, believing in your work and keeping a low profile always helps. I have never had to make a conscious effort to keep up with the changing times. If you travel, are open to learning and live a well-rounded life, it’s possible to keep growing,” says Rao, ahead of her Lakme Fashion Week show.

Inspired by Japan

Her resort line of separates this time will focus on prints inspired by the ancient Japanese technique ofsashiko, along with patchwork in autumnal colours such as rich indigos, blues and warmer tones of coral. The simplicity of sashiko inspired Rao. “I’ve always enjoyed working with a simple clean palette when it comes to clothing. The fact that sashiko looked like a cousin of the kantha embroidery from Bengal made me realise that the Far East thinks similarly and a culture that might look very foreign might not be that at all! I hope to visit Japan soon,” adds Rao.

The Far East, and Japan in particular, seems to be fashion’s current muse. And Rao demystifies the phenomenon by attributing it to a need for simplicity and clarity in our lives. “The West, which dominates fashion trends, has always been enamoured by the East, which is rich in culture and history. For many years, India inspired everything from fashion, music to food.” Now people are looking for simple, austere, and clean lines as a breather from everything that is superfluous or excessive. Rao explains, “Japan believes in this principle of simplicity and has suddenly caught the fancy of the fashion world. Documentaries like Notebook on Cities and Clothes have also played an important part in the influence.”

Ease of wear

Her collection rides on easy silhouettes made for the modern woman who likes fuss-free clothing. But fuss-free doesn’t equate boring in Rao’s lexicon.

“It doesn’t mean you couldn’t look sexy in them. The real Indian woman, who works at home and outside, travels, reads and has a mind of her own, is not looking for grandeur or vanity. She wants clothes that make her look and feel gorgeous. She does not have the body for corsets or lycra or heavy embroideries. So yes, she is my muse. In a perfect world, more women will begin to think like her,” states the designer.

New on the design palette

Designing bags and shoes — a career first for Rao — feels natural and rather easy for this collection. “I wanted to create shoes that did not necessarily match, but were part of the same DNA. With this idea in mind, I printed some canvas and made simple sneakers and totes as a part of the collection,” says the designer.

Never one to swear allegiance to trends, Rao believes in eternal styles. She doesn’t dismiss all trends, but says, “Some trends like the off-shoulder or cold-shoulder trend right now, can be, superfluous. However the trend of pairing kurtaswith pants, or farshis is such a welcome change to the churidars.”

Working with tradition

Her plan for the next decade is to do more work on handlooms and the kind of clothing she believes in. As for the changing face of fashion, Rao doesn’t deny that while the industry has transformed and moved ahead, it has also lost a bit of its heart in the process.

“The good news is that more people are now employed by the fashion industry than ever before: weavers, printers, embroiderers at the grass roots level, and designers at the top. There are more institutes in any single city of this country than there were in all of India 20 years ago. Fashion Weeks offer platforms to the talented, and there’s business for all.”

She’s also pleased that the industry is thinking more about sustainability than ever before. There is a downside, however.

“A lot of very sad clothing is being dished out in the name of fashion. Designers now believe that Bollywood dictates fashion. The sense of design and detail seems to be eroding each year. It’s all about being associated with a celebrity today.”Read more at:plus size formal dresses