Drape it like Nikhil - The New Indian Express

Drape it like Nikhil

Published: 25th February 2014 08:11 AM

Last Updated: 26th February 2014 09:35 AM

Nikhil Thampi
His name may not ring a bell but his designs have most certainly been kicking up a fuss both on and off the ramp. Wearable, edgy and packed with oomph, Nikhil Thampi’s eponymous label is just less than three years old but has already garnered a client-list that boasts of Bollywood’s fashion divas. And the 27-year-old hasn’t even been to fashion school yet, nor, he claims, can he still tell the difference from one material to the other.

A South Indian from Delhi, Nikhil admits that fashion ‘happened’ to him. Dabbling in a host of professions, including his family’s aviation business, psychology and even marketing, it was finally friends and family who pushed him to try out for Lakme Fashion Week (LFW) in 2011. “I haven’t looked back ever since, yet,” he says joking, before adding, “I’m not a very expressive person, and so designing has become a way for me to say best what I want.”

The lookbook

Calling himself a ‘LFW baby’ (he hasn’t showcased at any other fashion event), Nikhil will yet again unveil his latest line at the upcoming LFW/Summer Resort 2014 happening next month.

Known for working mostly in monotones and stark contrasts, the designer says that this time he’s been a lot more experimental with colour. “I always thought I was colourblind, until now. The collection is from a prêt angle. I’m attempting a different and more bold look from my earlier collections,” he explains.

The focus, he adds, will be on the amalgamation of all things woman. “It’s about the power of sexes. The lady I’m designing for is very powerful and knows her value. The clothes aren’t going to be exactly androgynous but definitely have a masculine streak.” The collection will also be about freedom of expression. “This follows from the ruling on Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. There should be no judgement. Live and let live.” While Nikhil is quick to clarify that this isn’t the primary focus of his collection, the ruling hits close to home. “It is morally incorrect. I don’t agree with it and I can see it has affected a lot of my friends. This is my way of voicing against it,” he shares.

Breaking away from his tradition in more ways than one, Nikhil’s clothes will also be a little more structured than his usual non-fitted style. He tells us to expect more straight-lined clothing with a lot of colour.

Personal mantra

Considering his untrained hand and the competition he needs to stay ahead off, we ask Nikhil how he goes about designing for a new collection in the first place. His process, it turns it, is more structured than his clothes. “There are three major aspects I look at while designing – theme, trend and the commercial/editorial aspects. The last aspect basically determines if the collection will appeal to buyers and hence if it would sell. The trend this time is relaxed silhouettes,” he explains.

Pointing out that there hundreds of new talent being churned out of fashion schools every year, Nikhil feels his strongest point is his unpredictability. “If you come to me, I can fit you with a whole new wardrobe that has many looks. If you go anywhere else, past the first few outfits, they become repetitive. My idea is to constantly re-invent.” Not one to follow fashion as well (“I have no idea what the current global trends are!”), his personal fashion statement is a pair of blue jeans and black t-shirt. “Oh, I’m horrible that way. You will always find me in jeans and black tee. My team is always trying to dress me up and at any show, the first question is always: what are you wearing?” he says chuckling. However, he does like to accessorise, as he puts it. “I like waistcoats, I have a fetish for sunglasses and I love shoes. That’s my personal style statement.”

Inspirations and more

What he didn’t learn from fashion school, he says his grandmother taught him plenty. “She really knew how to carry herself and that is true fashion. That I can be a designer today is because of the freedom she gave her children and the family,” says the young designer. His most important critic though is his father. “I don’t really care about what anybody else thinks, my father has to like it. I keep sending him designs and trying to fit him in something new,” Nikhil says warmly. Recalling an incident, he goes on to share, “This one time, my dad saw a design which had really low cuts and a short hem, and he asks me, ‘Kapda kam pad gaya hya’ (did you run out of material?). That’s the man who has to be impressed.”

Family aside, Nikhil’s all-time favourite muse is actress Anushka Sharma and period films, and having provided some outfits for Bombay Velvet, Nikhil has managed both in one go. “She is a dream to dress. She gets it. She blew me away when once at a show, I was going berserk and she held my shoulders and calmly said everything would be alright.” Besides her, he loves dolling up everyobody’s fashion favourite Sonam Kapoor and sister Rhea. “They are so easy to work with and they always surprise you,” he says. However, his ultimate dream woman to dress he says is “the right mix of Vidya Balan meets Sushmita Sen”. 

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