October 18, 2022 FDCI

Viva La Vida

From law to design, Aisha Rao captures the French influence on Catalonia, as the Sagrada Família Basilica and the mosaics of Park Güell form the basis of her line “Trencadis”.

By Asmita Aggarwal

Spain and its architecture have been resonating with the design sensibilities of Indian designers, but Aisha Rao has decided to focus her creative vision on one particular place that boasts of myriad influences. Catalonia, which has been fighting for independence from Spain, and Barcelona is where her heart was set.

It was the same place where she went to study, IED, Barcelona, then Parsons New York, and she relived those moments frozen in time, when a classmate’s wedding took her back and conjured up a collage of memories. “Everyone told me, I wasn’t cut out for design, but when I went to Spain, life changed. I was motivated to work as an artist even though I had a law background,” says Aisha.

Parsons School of Design, NY further honed her skills in sewing and stitching, learning garment construction, making her adept in the nuances of detailing. This season was paying homage to Catalonia, its architecture, murals, specifically mosaics. But Rao wanted to explore, so she juxtaposed her five looks against the Catalonian sky, churches and museums only to discover how their appeal was accentuated.

The 22 looks she showcased at the FDCIXLFW titled “Trencadis” represents Catalan modernism, chips of discarded ceramic plates, tiles that were used to enliven buildings. She observed how each structure the famed visionary Antoni Gaudi made was leaning literally and metaphorically towards nature, where nothing is linear.  “Nothing is art if it doesn’t come from nature,” Gaudi famously said, which mirrored Rao’s thoughts. “We have translated these arches in buildings, ribs used as staircases, curves in the corridors, bends and mends in nature into our festive collection, the vibe is Spanish, to be specific Catalonian. The prints of the plates, motifs and colour which has been the essence of the brand, capture the chasmic mood of the place,” she explains.

The lapis lazuli, aquamarine renditions, sequins and bold hues remind you of the vibrancy that Barcelona is known for, without the more obvious Spanish ruffles. Georgette, dobby with inbuilt gold filaments were used with patchwork, polka dots and multi colours for the luxury pret line. The tissue lehengas for her festive collection has hand work —dori, nakshi and saadi, as the Aisha Rao label signature remains applique and a recurring leitmotif — nature, for the last four years, since she launched the bridal line.

“Catalonia is more French than Spanish, more art deco and art nouveau, different from what you see in Madrid, it was this interesting contradiction that prompted me to design,” she concludes.

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