Fashion designer Yadvi Agarwal’s tryst with impressionism is most recognised by the avant-garde fashion coterie. An alumni of both Pearl Academy of Fashion and National Institute of Design, Agarwal launched her label Yavï in 2016. The initial idea, she mentions, was to “explore what I dreamt of” from a sartorial point of view.
Local for global
The design ethos that Agarwal’s built this brand from remains the liberal use of “indigenous textiles in a contemporary fashion”. Her first collection was a small volume of handpainted jackets, garments, and textile jewellery that she presented at the Maison&Objet, Paris, which was picked up by Victoria and Albert Museum, London and Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco. Finally, she launched her label in the domestic market via Lakme Fashion Week in 2018.
Perceived to be ahead of her time as far as design sensibilities are concerned, Agarwal’s collections mostly draw inspiration from Impressionism, the 19th Century art movement whose core artists such as Claude Monet and Camille Pissarro lay emphasis on visible brushstrokes and vivid, unblended hues. She shares, “My inspiration originated from Impressionism, which I translated into hand-painted jackets on a block printers’ table. Eventually, that was conceptualised further into prints on luxurious fabrics such as silk.”
Her conceptual designs, in large measure, align with wearable art—it remains an unsaleable concept as far as the Indian consumer is concerned. “While the Impressionism story is widely appreciated overseas, in India people do not understand it. So, I started working with a floral story each season, and that seems like quite a hit in the domestic market. Impressionism is honestly my signature style; it’s what got me the eyeballs.”
A unique textile story
Apart from using natural fibres, Agarwal has also started experimenting with fabrics—she has worked with recycled polyester. In fact, in her autumn/winter 2022 collection ‘Up the Rabbit Hole’ she has woven ikat designs with merino wool and silk—something that took two years to materialise.
Elaborating on this collection—which has about 90 pieces in a mix of fabrics—she shares that it is a collaborative effort with artist Rhea Gupte. “My vision is always the textile story, while Rhea came up with the narrative. For me, anything and everything is an inspiration. In this collection, there is a jacket which has patched pieces of felt [a fabric she introduced for the first time] like a puzzle; it came into existence because I started making a lot of puzzles two years ago, and I found it cathartic.
Also, there are parts of the collection, which is inspired by food art; it happened because I started cooking and really enjoyed plating. My collection is actually very intuitive and it is about what’s really going on around me or in my surroundings, which translates into the whole collection. ‘Up the rabbit hole’ is Rhea’s take, and it is about this creature, which is traversing through their own life experiences and finding beauty in solitude,” she concludes.