All set for her first runway presentation, Charu Vij of Aekatri has formed a niche for herself by creating designs that are modern, feminine and easy.
By Asmita Aggarwal
Over centuries, legion of designers have tried to capture the essence of femininity. Designers like Miuccia Prada have been making the personal political in subtle ways and Phoebe Philo (who has unfortunately exited Céline and is being replaced with Hedi Slimane) has, time and again, made us question the way 21st century women should be dressing. While Charu Vij — the designer behind the label Aekatri — is doing a runway presentation for the first time — modern femininity is also the premise of many of her collections in the past.
The Pearl-Academy-graduate started her brand five years ago with an aim to provide women with affordable luxury through her easy and comfortable clothing. This is why her clothes have been worn by new-age stars like Kiran Rao and Rupi Kaur. True to its name, her brand, Aekatri, is an assemblage of many things, not one; it resonates with the idea of having a Pandora’s box. And, that is also how her interest in design began, “Being a commerce graduate, my tryst with design started in college. However, since childhood, I was interested in art. My mother used to get me colouring books and I would colour all the pages in a day,” she says.
Her design process, much like her brand, is an assemblage of many things. “To me, designing is a constant process. Be it colour, form or a silhouette — it keeps keeps evolving in my mind till I end up creating it. My whole mind gets consumed by it as I’m looking for ideas everywhere,” she reveals. Her prêt line, under the moniker Aek, will be showcased this time at fashion week. Her upcoming presentation will include fabrics like chanderi, cotton silk and slub silks, that are used to create day-to-evening dresses, with a special focus on multi-functional pieces. “We have also worked with handwoven Merino wool for our jackets. A lot of layering has been incorporated and thread-based embroideries with varieties of stitches, both machine and hand, have also been used,” she adds.
Charu also believes that design sensibilities have evolved a lot in the country now. “We’re now living in a dynamic age. Indians have started to value crafts, handlooms and are understanding easy essentials, unlike earlier. The industry, which once used to have a handful of designers is now becoming competitive,” she says. This is also the reason why the 31-year-old designer is as anxious as she is excited for her upcoming show, compared to last time at Amazon India Fashion Week. “We had a booth last time. I got a first-hand experience in meeting all domestic and international buyers under one roof. This time it’s our first show so its special. I’m a bit nervous and exhilarated as well,” she exclaims.
To combat the pressure of making a debut on the runway, Charu has been doing double shifts at her workshop. However, she says it is her family that keeps her going. She concludes, “We are a family of six. My mother has been a homemaker but now juggles to help me take Aekatri forward. My father is an entrepreneur and has also been a constant guide and a great mentor to me. My siblings are my backbone. My family is the core that takes me forward all the time.”