Nidhi Yasha, founder and director, The NY Studio, tells us how nostalgia served as the backdrop for her line soaked in tranquillity
By Asmita Aggarwal
The soul yearns a quiet escape has been the leitmotif in human life and the past few months of collective suffering through the pandemic has brought upon everybody, both deep anguish and self-realisation. We crave normalcy, rhythm and flow like never before, but most have realised it is time for slowing down, reflecting, and quiet surrender to the sombre sounds of nature.
“Take me to the water”, (a 1967 song by Nina Simone) title of Nidhi Yasha’s collection is an extension of this yearning. It is nostalgic, romantic and gentle and the silhouettes are dreamy and old worldly with a halo of diaphanous fabrics around solid bases. “Treatments and surfaces are delicate and surreal, with ombre-dyed beaded tassels inspired by flowing, dripping water itself,” says Yasha.
Fabric manipulation and ruffles mimic cascading waterfalls, and ripples, while the palette is inspired by untouched beaches, and apart from soft mauves of evening skies, there is a burst of colour in the prints inspired by the mysterious underwater in her LMIFW Ss’21 line. The beauty can be seen in Yasha’s Koi fish accent embroidery which comes a full circle.
“I believe that suffering and anguish create the most moving artistic expressions. This collection came to my mind while daydreaming about the sea during the lockdown and listening to Nina’s song by the same name, on repeat. There is an element of wanting to break free from despair and move from uneasiness to tranquillity, I have tried to capture through this collection,” she explains.
She further observes, fashion while being responsible, ethical and sustainable also needs to be honest, and fun, practical.And somewhere along the way, bogged down by the pressure of doing right by the medium, we have begun to lose our perspective. “So I feel, while ‘literally’, it needs to correct its malpractices, and be conscious and introspective, metaphorically it still needs to be fun, and awe-inspiring, and moving. Clothing is culture, and can be a representation of who we are in the deepest of our layers, and what we may not be able to put into words, but need to express, unsaid but loud,” she adds.
With the shift in mediums, consumer engagement through the digital world has been although slow, but steady. The world is craving normalcy. Indulging in online purchasing, is that much needed release and is also therapeutic in its own right, as far as the luxury segment is concerned. “The market I cater to is showing a committed and sustained response to online engagement, although the transition has not been easy. Fashion is a medium of touching and feeling, and experiencing. In this case that gratification is delayed, but you are eventually rewarded,” she explains.
She admits her signature is ever evolving, but she does know that it is intensity that drives her, no matter what the aspect. “Though there is a significant difference in what I consider subtle and what the world considers so. Vintage inspires and speaks to me, I feel like an old soul wading through 2020, trying to find candid conversation pieces that I can document between the past and present through my aesthetic. I keep trying to find a method to this madness, and a consistency through this chaos,” she adds.
She loves to mix materials, in unexpected combinations, handlooms with French Chantilly laces, different textures and techniques, prints, surfaces and even colours. “To be able to find a consistent language with all of these divergent elements would probably be my journey into finding my true signature,” she explains.
The necessitation of the “stay at home” phenomena has made home an even more important place, for the luxury consumer. Dressing up home and dressing up at home, albeit in comfort have both become new phenomena. There is a higher demand for premium loungewear and sleepwear, along with a surge in the demand of home decor products, luxury or otherwise. “We are offering luxurious silk loungewear and resort wear in pleasing colours and attractive prints which are timeless pieces. They bring the consumer joy and are kinder on the planet being slow and sustainable, having long-term longevity,” she explains.
The future, she believes, may be full of struggle, but never bleak. “My construct is such that I do not perceive challenges as threats, but calls to a different kind of action. My company embodies this philosophy. Change is constant, evolution is inevitable and imperative,” she explains.
The journey has not been a smooth one for Nidhi, earlier this year, she went through a huge loss having invested heavily into her first flagship store in Mumbai, having done interiors, which she had to suddenly truncate due to the onset of Covid-19. “My company has been housing craftsmen within the factory and taking care of their stay and food, ever since the lockdown commenced. Even with the lockdown lifting, we have extended this option to whoever wants to avail. All staff is being medically insured especially for Covid -19. We are doing our tiny bit and hope to be able to do more with the passage of time,” she says.
As a label she is definitely extending more commercial pieces, purely because a digital engagement is different in nature than a personal one. Functionality has always been important, in the day and age of ever increasing pragmatism, but she believes one tends to undermine artistic expression, and intense communication. “My fear is with this mentality, the world will one day be a cold and drab place to be. For me, there is no new world order that speaks of only functionality and not fantasy. Every functional piece is an outcome of someone’s fantasy in the past. I would never discourage the dreamers and rebels,” she reiterates.
At present digitalisation definitely feels like one of the strongest ways to counter this situation, with least contact. This has, in fact, pressed us to find newer gateways, and newer interfaces and software, newer apps and even brand new businesses have emerged to capitalise on the demand. “I do hope, while we continue to explore more in the digital world, we are able to go back to our regular ways. What any industry, or community, can do collectively to get through any crisis is to stick together. I think our industry has set a fine example of coming together and staying together as it may be applicable, during this crisis. The FDCI has worked very hard to bring to its members funds and several opportunities to sustain and survive,” she adds.
Vulnerable artisan groups or craft clusters are aggressively being supported by designers via business generation, partnerships, marketing support, backend logistics etc. It has in-fact become a strong movement. “My advice would be to be honest and true to the craft, cater to the digital demands, make the necessary changes in practises that hurt the earth, and yet, not be afraid to emote,” she concludes.