With Paris Fashion Week returning to a physical format on July 5-8, designer Vaishali Shadangule is busy putting the finishing touches to her collection that she’s all set to showcase there.
Shadangule has always been vocal about her support for Indian handloom, which is exactly what will be represented in Paris. We ask her what this achievement means in these tough times, and how she sees Indian handloom making a mark on the global stage.
Firsts are always special, but this one’s a double celebration - your first time in Paris, and you being the first Indian woman to showcase your collection. How does it feel?
Thrilling! And a huge responsibility as an Indian showcasing at the ultimate stage of couture in the world. I want to make a point that we are not only an inexpensive manufacturing (or embroidery) market, but are also competing at par with the icons of couture with the superior quality of our fabrics and the skilled craftsmanship that goes into the making of each garment.
Your label is known for supporting Indian fabrics. What can we expect you to bring to the Parisian stage?
That is going to be a surprise. I can tell you that I always have a stock of traditional fabrics in order to keep a steady flow of work for my weavers, but for sure, you’ll get to see a lot of innovation. Haute couture allows you an extra level of creativity and expression and I revel in that.
The international stage is not new for you. Is this excitement still the same as the first time?
Each one has been a great milestone for me, and each time I have attained a different level of experience and maturity. But this one is a bit like being selected for the Olympics. It’s the ultimate level! The journey has been long and hard, and it has taken me two decades to get there. We celebrate the 20th year of my brand this July.
How different or how similar are international shows from our Indian shows in terms of design or style?
International shows, or at least the ones in Milan, and New York, expect a different degree of design. Global audiences look for creativity in the silhouettes as much as in the details of the designs and choice of fabrics. The experience of having shown my stuff in these two cities has helped me experiment with new techniques of draping and cording, which I am planning to push even more with my couture collection.
What have been the inspirations for your collections?
My very first inspirations have been Indian hand weaves. I have been fascinated with them since I was a kid. The richness and intricacy of the many diverse handloom techniques have always intrigued and enthralled me. The other inspiration is Nature and her energy, her varied cycles, her colours and her textures. It is, indeed, an inspiring muse.
Your designs are known as wearable designs. Couture show collections are sometimes termed as not for regular people. How true is it?
I call my designs ‘wearable art’. Fashion shows are used to communicate a content or a story, thus they need to be a little bit more expressive than normal garments, especially in couture. An outfit can always be broken up in two or three pieces that can be matched easily with a pair of normal pants or a white shirt.
Your advice to young designers?
Go for it. Anything is possible when you put all your passion into it. But also, be sensible to the environment, to the social impact you create, and to the overall structure of the ecosystem you want to be part of.