The Lakme Fashion Week Summer/Resort 2014 (LFW-SR) is all set to take place in exactly a month’s time and designers are caught in the maelstrom of last minute detailing. Among this bevy is Paris-based Indian designer Parul Bhargava. Taking part in the gen-next show, the designer will be bringing her brand Mirage to the show for the first time.
Mostly dealing with embroidery, Parul’s design aesthetic – “elegant, chic and stylish,” as she puts it – revolves around the nifty manoeuvring of the thread.
“Attention to detailing in hand embroidery is what strikes a chord with my personal style. It is a lot of hard work but the outcome has no comparison,” she explains of her penchant for the craft. Introduced to hand embroidery at a very young age by her mother, a textile enthusiast, Parul began designing specifically for embroidery when she was a teen.
“Drawing was my first passion and I started designing for embroidery at the age of 14. In a couple of years, I realised I was getting embroideries done for a lot of family and friends,” she shares.
From there, though her family wasn’t too keen on her pursuing fashion designing professionally, Parul went ahead and enrolled herself at Central Saint Martins in UK. “While doing my business degree in UK, I applied to Central Saint Martins and got through. It was either luck or destiny, but after that there was no looking back. I graduated in 2006, came back to India and started working for embroidery maestros Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla and truly that is where I learned the art of detailing.”
A year later, Parul turned to freelancing and in 2010, moved to Paris to pursue her dream of learning hand embroidery. A trained embroidery artist from the prestigious Ecole Lesage, Paris, the designer launched her own brand Mirage. “Though it is time consuming and laborious, the pleasure you get after finishing a piece of embroidery in immeasurable. I have been working as a freelance embroidery artist for past two years and this is my first ever collection being showcased at LFW. I am really excited,” gushes the 31-year-old.
With close to a year’s worth of hard work going into her showcase, Parul is a mix of nerves and excitement about her debut and can’t wait to see the response.
“I feel it is a great platform to showcase my collection. But thinking about the show makes me nervous. There is so much to do and so less time. I absolutely love what I do and I really hope everyone else loves it too.”
Titled Serenity, Parul’s collection is inspired by the Cinque Terre region in Italy. Featuring eight looks in pure silk, the collection mirrors the movement of water through textures in the garment.
A believer of ‘less is more’, Parul explains, “My last trip to Italian Riviera turned out to be a huge inspiration for my collection and I have been working on it for past eight months. Cinque Terre is a cluster of five small villages in the Italian Riviera. The two most important things that you can associate with serenity are mountains and ocean and Cinque Terre has both. The simple life of people and their contentment caught my fancy. After all, simplicity is the greatest form of sophistication.”
Primarily designed in pastel shades, the embroidery is done with silks, printed/textured sequins and miyuki glass beads. The silhouettes in the collection are very simple and all the attention is on detailing in the form of hand embroidery and digital printing.
India versus Paris
Between the very Indian technique of hand embroidery and the Parisian modern cuts that surround Parul, we ask her how she manages to balance the influence in her designs. “Keeping the styles very elegant and simple, I work more towards detailing that involves hand embroidery. Most of my collection is a mix of hand embroidery and digital prints.”
While her own designs reflect a very western sentiment, Parul does propagate traditional Indian designs over western and believes that should be our USP. “I really think the average Indian is trying to fit into the western mould and in the process, is forgetting our own beautiful culture. As Indians, if we start supporting our own people in this industry, we can definitely make a difference.”
As for Indian designers, she feels the international market is way ahead of them. “I think some of the Indian designers are really good but the basic design aesthetics are different. Indian fashion has rapidly progressed in the past 10 years. But to compete with the international designers, we still have a long way to go.”
Parul describes her brand as a “luxury French label with Indian roots”. With the aim of bridging the gap between traditional Indian craftsmanship and sophisticated French design aesthetics, Parul points out that the brand’s muse is a woman of 30 years of age and above. “She is well read to self-analyse and self transform. Her intellect reflects her self-evolution. She is confident, career-oriented, has strong values and purposes to lead her life. At the same time, she receives happiness from travelling, reading, spa treatments, gardening, yoga etc,” she concludes, indicating that these could be the women she will be appealing to at her LFW debut.