October 11, 2019 Asmita Aggarwal

A Picnic with Monet

IIM Ahmedabad and NIFT, Nidhi Yasha boasts of an impressive curriculum vitae, but behind the sharp mind are even sharper silhouettes and a nuanced understanding of design  

By Asmita Aggarwal

There are very few designers, who could boast of a degree from IIM Ahmedabad (crafting luxury in lifestyle businesses) along with direct placement to Beijing, working for a buying house after studying fashion design at NIFT (Delhi) in 2005. In a year she was back as the stress of staying away from family, took a toll and she thought of venturing into a niche segment that could make good use of her prowess in designing.

Nidhi Yasha launched a costuming company, that designed and manufactured for historical films, TV, and theatre, exporting to S. Asia, a variety of elaborate headgears and detailed armors. It has completed ten successful years in operation this year, and life has taken an interesting turn too. “In 2016 I launched my label, and showcased at the London Fashion Week, this was right after I became a mother, the entrepreneur in me wanted to do this for a long time,” confirms Nidhi, who presented at the Lotus Make-Up India Fashion Week SS’20 in association with Ebix Cash.

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Every business needs investment, and coming from a middle-class family where her mother was a retired government school principal, who taught maths and an engineer father, Nidhi had to work, earn and save to be able to create a consortium of funds. “When I came back, in 2008, there was a severe recession, and jobs were few and far between so I had to create work. I moved to Mumbai and costuming really grew by leaps and bounds as I had the technical skills to run it. I worked with artisans and craftsmen and it was creatively satisfying for me,” she explains. Currently, she also teaches at NYU and Columbia along with managing different roles seamlessly in her rather hectic life.

The beauty of starting a label is that it is your vision and you don’t need to compromise, so she did it from the heart, using pure silks, linens, wool, and each embroidery technique told an endearing tale. “I like gold, but it is mellowed down, as it gave company to my maximalistic style,” she smiles. Her design idol is the 98-year-old icon Iris Apfel, who is a head-turner, and is unapologetic about the way she dresses. Her artistic expression is of paramount importance, which vacillates between rebellious and romantic.8D4A1433_resize

There is a hint of androgyny, power dressing combined with femininity, but no skin show rather the focus is on sharp cuts and structure to accentuate the robustness, as she admits playing with volume comes naturally to her. She does understand that design must be functional and wild expressions should be restricted to mood boards, in the end, the price points must be realistic. “Beijing at the age of 21, was a learning experience, it was a dream opportunity. I travelled to eight different countries to oversee the design aspects, but there was no time to do anything else, just work, no social life, no one spoke English there and there were only 300 expat families in China,” she says.

In an Insta world, Nidhi finds herself in a disarray, as she grapples with technology, confessing that instead of marketing managers, brands now prefer to hire social media accountants, who curate an image for you. “Constant innovation is the key to survival,” she admits. Her line “A Pathway from Monet”, is inspired by the purple irises celebrated in the painting and memorable summer. “I write poems, this collection is an extension of the redefining of the word ‘pretty’ often used in fashion, it talks about a kind of tragic romance, yet finding the bloom within yourself that summer brings with it,” she concludes.

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