August 3, 2023 FDCI

Pearls of Wisdom

Dolly J uses the radiance of pearls to add glow to her army of gowns, as couture transcends from glitter to subtle.

By Asmita Aggarwal

She studied architecture from the Patna College of Fine arts, raised two daughters on her own, counts artist Subodh Gupta as her “only college buddy” she has kept in touch with and she manages to walk the tightrope between commerce and aesthetics in her couture line, winning a devoted clientele.

Almost 15 years in the business she built ground up, of course with the gentle persuasion of her mother, who ran a boutique in the Capital and always believed in tailored clothes over ready-to-wear. Dolly J who shifted to Delhi from Patna, knew the market was much more than this. She built an ambitious plan, to grow organically, without ever compromising on her role as a mother, managing to make both her daughters financially independent in a traditional Marwari family.

Dolly’s younger daughter, is a trained pastry chef under Michelin star winning cooks, offering delicious cakes to a sea of celebrities including Bollywood dreamboat Katrina Kaif, while the older sister was in New York where she worked as a financial advisor to Saks Fifth Avenue.

Even though Dolly’s sister went to fashion school, most of the creative edge today is from her, despite being self-taught with an astute understanding of market movements and changing demands. “I owe everything to my mom, who exposed me to —books, design theory, fabrics, structure,” says the designer who’s true calling was painting. As the business grew from designing for relatives to friends, Dolly altered her thought process into making what her clients desired, at a price that offered both value for money and functionality.

Life she realized was not like her favourite book The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, channeling the simplicity of existence, it was unpredictable and tested your grit at odd twists of time. She played on her strengths—the subtle amalgamation of hues, the nuances of knowing where to use fit and flare. Believing no matter how much we like, structure and Indian women often don’t work together—fluidity is more convincing. This season she has paid homage to the moon and its pearly candor.

Moon is also synonymous in astrology with the “mind”, and here in this line, ivories take centerstage combining it with charcoals and her signature cutwork. “Pearls also symbolise radiance, relating it with an inner glow. The shades of silver, mixed with tulle and emblazoned with pearls offer a flowy effect, even though this year we have not used woven fabrics from Banaras,” she adds.

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Fashion Design Council of India