October 13, 2014 Asmita Aggarwal

United Colours of Nida

An unabridged version called Nida is as entertaining as her ensembles—funky, quirky, artistic, and above all, you can enjoy it with a cup of Irani chai

By Asmita Aggarwal

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There is a lot that pint-sized wonder Nida Mahmood will tell you in a nanosecond, from her solo journey in kitsch (besides of course the maverick Manish Arora) to her strong Indian imagery being her forte. Though Nida, a NIFT graduate’s strength lies in the way she revs up mundane concepts by adding her proverbial pinch (ok…maybe a fistful) of drama in it.


Robust colours remain her gift, but this time, Nida is taking the road less travelled and has attempted to court white, despite its vanilla composition. “The line titled ‘Good Luck Irani Cafe’ is hoping to capture the innate loveliness of white, it was a challenge for me, but I accepted it,” she laughs.


After fashion school Nida spent her first year working in Mumbai, where she lived in a part of town, known for its quaint Irani cafes. The cookies, floral tin boxes and British crockery, pulao, tiling, it was as if going back in time to the era of the 60s. “Living life in these by lanes where you would find these ‘jewels’, cafes tucked away left me intrigued. I used to love frequenting chai cafes, where I saw check (red and white) tablecloths and dainty rose elements, but I kind of did a hyperbolic vision of this cafe in my mind and that was translated on to the collection,” she admits.

Keeping the silhouettes boxy and no-fuss, Nida’s line in her own words is “a Mad Hatters party meets Irani Cafe”. You will see humble symbols making a quiet entry in the hot air balloons and cups and saucers, symbolising her admiration for mundane elements. “Most people cut and paste imagery they find on the net onto dresses, I create graphics, work on the kitschy elements and try and create something which is emblematic of my thought process,” she adds.


Interestingly, chai has remained an eternal hieroglyph for Nida, from her first line ‘High on Chai’ to her evolving her design prowess with New India Bioscope Company and Sadak Chaap! “I like Made in India symbols, the typography; it’s fun to see how we Indians unconsciously make spelling errors on hoardings, all this adds a certain quirk to my various collections. I am an artist at heart, so I look at design as an artform,” she says.


And that’s why adventures of ‘Captain Mast Kalandar’, a figment of Nida’s vibrant imagination and ‘Sapna Cinema’ can be seen as examples of how Nida has grown her stylistically charged oeuvre. “As a designer I have to find the right balance between my funky colours and not getting carried away by concepts as there must be a thread of continuity that runs through. But I must confess that in my techni-coloured dreams, design is on auto-pilot,” she concludes.


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