Longevity and ingenious pattern making is at the core of Priyanka of Pella, a designer from Darjeeling with global dreams
By Asmita Aggarwal
Growing up in Darjeeling, Priyanka Lorena Lama, daughter of an ex Army officer and homemaker, was exposed to an interesting culture with experimentation at its core. It began with her making alterations to school uniforms going on to helping teachers with dresses for concerts and by the time she was in class 8, it was her calling. A summer internship with Ruchika Sachdeva (Bodice) during her NIFT (Bangalore) course cemented the deal. She launched her label in 2015 without any industry experience hoping to make fully hand-stitched ensembles in the next five years, a feat she has proudly achieved.
Her no waist pattern cutting techniques, using a single block of fabric were ingenious, though she has taken this a step further this year, by offering to entirely open up the garment and create a brand new one out of it. Her favourites include Angora, pashmina and silk, fabrics that are woven that she blends with knotting, knitting and weaving, hoping to build her own textiles. “I like using subtle procedures, so blind hemming tops the list,” she adds, saying no to any other overt forms of embellishment or embroidery.
When Priyanka began there was a resurgence of labels in the sea of young design school grads hoping to establish their identity, she was one of them, but today the highlight is on consuming capacity, less is really more. “If you love something you will take care of it, won’t throw it away, wear it for a long time and buy the next one only when you need it, I want my clothes to last, that’s the fulcrum of my ideology,” she confesses.
Design has frankly become circular, so reuse and redesign is going to be the future, buyers are open to thrift shops, now you can also exchange your old garments with others. Innovation is key, that’s why she admires processes with unpredictability using thread techniques on silk, where only when you open the fabric can you discover the surprisingly harmonious patterns it creates. “I have used Eri silk from Assam and tussar (Jharkhand) both have been part of my thinking process. This year the fabrics made from stinging nettle, a carbon neutral, natural fibre, hand spun that I sourced earlier from Nagaland but this year from Darjeeling, is tough to find, but great to incorporate in my line giving it a whole new dimension,” she adds.
Priyanka sees herself as more of a conceptual designer, with relatable offerings and her signature pieces —A line block dresses can be worn ten years down the line too. “My aim is to be a global brand, I hope to soon do international shows,” she concludes.