CHENNAI: For designer-architect Swathi Purushothaman, everyday is a tryst with measurements and designs, albeit in varied proportions. Dabbling in momochromes for her building designs and scouring through yards of various materials, the self-taught fashion designer juggles two different fields intertwined by her love for design.
Showcasing her collection inspired by shades of autumn, Swathi, who runs Studio 149, had the ramp on fire with her designs in the recently-concluded Chennai Fashion Week. Crisp fabrics and flowy designs in dull yellow, orange and red, her collection comprised gowns, lehengas, skirts, palazzos and crop tops.
Taking time off from her busy Monday schedule, which includes visits to her studio and work site, she says, “Some days are like this, with schedules and a lot of alternating between the dual roles.”
Taking customised orders, Swathi says that she aims at designing what is unique to the region. “What I am trying to crack is something unique to the region. Someone in Mumbai or Delhi shouldn’t be able to make it,” says Swathi, who pursued architecture from CEPT University, Hyderabad.Blending the Kancheepuram silk in her designs apart from jersey fabric sourced from her uncle’s export house in Tirupur, Swathi’s designs carry a native feel with a contemporary touch. “Some people say that my designs have a Navarathri look to them. Maybe it is because it is influenced by my stint in Gujarat while I was pursuing Architecture,” she says with a smile.
Swathi calls her journey as a fashion designer an organic process. Running two careers parallely, she takes up only those architecture projects that match her convictions. Her designer side is adventurous and experimentative. “I learn a lot on the job. And, that is why I never say no to any kind of orders. The whole process is very intuitive,” she adds. However, she adds that she doesn’t believe in replicating orders.
With a clientéle comprising models, college-goers and some women in their 40s, she also works closely with stylists. She has clients from across the country and abroad. From wedding to party and occasion wear, a majority of her work is in the line of lehengas, anarkalis, gowns and blouses. With several spaces including, residences, a gym and now working on a makeover studio to her credit, Swathi says she has found a common point between both her avatars. “It is not about making out-of-the-box designs. I believe in the timeless appeal of the attire more than trends. Even after 10 years, someone should like it. I guess that’s the influence of the architecture in me,” she says.