Her cultural identity finds a place in her approach to fashion as Pallavi Singh celebrates colour through the leitmotif of festivals sans a catchy melody or frenetic beat.
By Asmita Aggarwal
She comes from the birthplace of Buddha, Gaya, where the Falgu river runs its course providing succour to thousands of devotees. Pallavi Singh never could have imagined that growing up in a large family dominated by women (they are four sisters), with no exposure to fashion and limited one to films, would take up designing as a career. Delhi she admits has been a game-changer, it opened her up from the shy girl, who Namrata Joshipura would joke and say, “Today Pallavi has spoken nine words” to a confident woman running her business.
Pallavi, remembers the 90s when along with her sisters and mom, she would go fabric shopping and unlike her siblings she would be more interested in the process than the product. Local tailors would convert their borrowed Bollywood ideas into heady silhouettes that would be accepted with fervent giggles by the four. When he refused to execute any idea, their mom chipped in and cut and sewed herself. “I was a tomboy, but I loved the smell of fabrics and was enticed by the colourways, as Gaya, is a small town and we lived in a highly protected environment, mom’s first and only responsibility was to keep us safe. So looking for clothes became our excursions and mom our inspiration,” she confesses.
Bihar, she says has no eating out culture, so celebrations centre around festivals, Holi is almost eight days long just like Diwali and this jubilance is what she has attempted to mirror in her SS’19 line. “Back home we have Karma puja where we worship a tree, it is a tribute to nature and its bounties. It has colour, vivacity and ethos, all the things that make a collection robust,” she smiles.
Pallavi counts her mom, a PH.D in ancient Buddhist history, who is no more, as her biggest influence, while her criminal lawyer father didn’t interfere in their upbringing. She taught all her daughters to be self-reliant something she couldn’t achieve, and when there was opposition from a traditional Rajput family to move to the big city for studies, it was her grandmother who supported her. Women really were a dominant force in the home, despite having no financial prowess. “I have used homegrown fabrics especially Bemberg, made from bamboo in Surat, with a flowy temperament which seemed ideal for summer along with matka cotton,” she explains. Though the play is in the way she combines mixed media, stripes and checks with Indian motifs in yellows, to fuchsias and nebula to create structured jackets and skirts.
In the three years that she started her label, Pallavi had already accumulated enough knowledge by working with Namrata for eight years as well as AM:PM to know what not to do. She admits Namrata gave her the freedom to learn unfettered, which made her move from a product merchandiser to handling buyers and orders. “I live in the present so if you ask me what I plan for the future I will have to say I take each moment as it comes, but there is a lot more to me than just designing,” says Pallavi.
She indulges in clay modelling, loves gardening and also dabbles in interiors. “Whenever I think of fashion the first vision is of my mom, who in her austere saris and negligent jewellery told me that there is only one lifetime so chase your dreams and never let go till you have truly tried, it was the best advice ever,” she concludes.