March 16, 2019 FDCI

Let’s go Dutch

Dutch architecture has remained etched in the memory of Pankaj and Nidhi, as they revisit past classics and romance the present with new surface techniques

By Asmita Aggarwal

Sometimes you have to let go of the past to enable a better future and that’s just what Pankaj and Nidhi did this season. Abandoning appliqué their all time favourite, and moving on to hand-crafted, interesting surfaces, P & N take up ribbons. They attempt fringing with it and elevate it to a new level by adding scallops.

The beauty of the label is how they start from the sourcing stage, where metallic sheets are cut according to unpredictable shapes giving the ensembles a fresh dimension. This year, they have revisited what they did almost 10 years ago in 2008, when they were in the fashion incubator, attempting to make a place for themselves in the design sphere.

Trapunto, or the Italian stitch is mostly used in quilting, a process the duo loves (both the quilts and the technique). This season, it is back, not a solid base, but executed on prints. Memory and fashion has a direct connect, even though this may not be Freudian, as both don’t fail each other, maybe that’s why the husband-wife team’s visit to Netherlands Rijks Museum where Rembrandt to Franz Hals reside visually, left a lasting impact on them. That’s why the quilting found a rather unseemly soulmate—- graphic art inspired by the artworks they appreciated.

Understanding sustainability is the need of the hour, they source ethically and now have endeavoured to work with vegetable dyes. Though it is a misnomer they don’t include textiles, their Chanderi striped ensembles are a sold out in their boutiques and their design intervention in Benerasi is quite well…cool. “Instead of the regular gold we worked with silver yarn and added rose motifs on the weave,” says Pankaj. For their Paris outing, they did revisit appliqué but not in neoprene or patent leather rather in velvet that had this malleable mushiness.

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Experimentation remains the basis of the label, even though they are lovers of new-age technology, fine mill-made yarns as well as laser cutting. “We try and do our bit to ensure zero waste, so the laser cut waste is again refashioned into jaalis, which we use as adornment,” he explains.

Twelve years ago when P & N began, they were intrepid, created with abandon, now that kind of has been overtaken by the need to survive in an industry that is unforgiving to those who aren’t updated. “It is a challenging time but creativity is never going to be passé,” says Pankaj.

The change that he sees, is there are lesser flights of fancy in fashion, it is more pragmatic, easier, less restricting and also about missing and matching, coordinates and separates. “It is less about brands now but more about looking for unique pieces that’s why, people are scouting flea markets and vintage shops looking for that novelty,” he adds.

P & N’s survival kit is pretty simple— give the West what it can’t do, beautiful embroideries; so there can be a crewel work bomber jacket, or an aari work blouse, the Parisians love, as tailoring they are masters at.  Diversity is the foundation of their label, so you can see both a handloom fabric and polyester mesh exist hand-in-hand in their repertoire.

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Social media has changed the paradigm, its reach has impacted many businesses and even though Nidhi, now a mother-of-two Laila, 6, and one-year-old Vir, took the lead and started it, four years ago, their followers have grown organically. “It is a great way to put your brand out there, even though none of us, have personal accounts,” says Pankaj.

Four times a year in Paris can be exhausting, and even though when they went there for the first time they felt a bit lost in a sea of heavy red carpet looks, soon their found their niche. “Brand extensions excite me, I want to do something in the area of home; soft furnishings, the whole nine yards is what I would I like to offer in a few years,” he signs off.

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