Flirty dresses, beautiful drapes, miniature prints and cinched-in waists are key hallmarks of a Saloni Lodha design. The 30-something Mumbai girl who’s fast becoming the name to know in London fashion circles, launched her ‘Made in India’ label, Saloni, in 2007 with just 10 designs on offer. Two years later, she shot to global fame when Emma Watson wore a Saloni dress to the US premiere of Harry Potter and the tempo hasn’t flagged since.
Lodha has now added costume jewellery and handbags to her repertoire and US First Lady Michelle Obama and actors Emma Watson and Naomi Watts to her client list. Everything on her shelves is made in India by traditional weavers, tailors and embroiders—think ikat prints, bright colours and beautiful beadwork. Lodha swears by Indian craftsmanship and wants it to be lauded globally.
Born into a traditional Marwari family, Lodha says she was attracted to textures and colours even as a child. In Hong Kong, where she moved in 2002, she began designing clothes and setting up pop-up boutiques to sell them. The next step was St. Martins in London where she learnt pattern cutting and hand sewing and finally launched the eponymous line that draws from her heritage even as it keeps a modern silhouette.
Individuality is a big word in the Lodha scheme of things and the designer describes her clients as women “who like to mix and match styles to create their own personal look; who are adventurous but feminine”. Ask her what she favours personally, and the answer is “lots of colour, high heels and vintage jewellery”.
Given the Rajasthan background, it’s no surprise that Saloni admires Jaipur’s Maharani Gayatri Devi for her classical beauty and elegance. Among the younger lot, she considers Watson a “fresh-faced beauty who wears her clothes with youthful charisma and sophistication” and, going forward, would love to dress Natalie Portman and Freida Pinto. Among designers, her favourites are Alber Elbaz and Azzedine Alaia. —YK