Interview: Thai/Indian Designer Phavini Kalra

Priya and Lavina , 03 Apr 2013
Pavni
Pavni

On Day 2 of BFW World Tour – Bangkok edition, we interviewed the immensely popular local Thai/Indian designer, Phavini Kalra, to find more about her designs and how she started her own label PAVNI. Below are some pictures of her latest collection that was showcased where each outfit was unique and different from the other. Check out an excerpt from our Q&A session with her!

Pavni
Pavni

How did you get started and what do you think is the most important trait of a fashion designer?

Technically I got started when I was a really little kid. At the age of 4, when other kids were drawing flowers and houses and their families, I was drawing women in ball gowns and saris with handbags and curly hair adorned bows. Somewhere down the line, at the age of about 16, I got confused and ended up studying economics in University. Luckily, I found my way again and here I am!

The most important trait is definitely passion. You have to love what you are doing. Like any career, you can’t be good at what you’re doing unless you really love it. This industry isn’t as glamorous as it looks on the outside. You find yourself sweating in markets looking for fabrics and beads, and you are constantly trying juggling the needs and wants of your clients with your workers. When I make something new and beautiful and it comes out exactly as I imagined it in my head, it makes all the pain worthwhile.

Pavni
Pavni

You had fascinating flower motifs and patchwork in your latest spring/summer collection. You even used quite a bit of net in your designs. What inspired you?

Like most of my collections recently, the idea of excess in general was one of my inspirations. I was also inspired by contrasts. We live in a world of sensory overload nowadays. I kind of wanted to translate this overload into beautiful garments. How many opposing seemingly contradictory elements can you put together and still get a beautiful cohesive collection? I mixed colors, prints, ethnicities, fabrics, etc. There was hard vs. soft, flowy vs. stiff, girlish vs. masculine, black vs. white, Indian vs. western. And guess what? There was no winner. The idea is that everything goes together and is still beautiful.

Pavni
Pavni

How do you spot trends?

This will sound really cliched but the fact is that I go out of my way not to “spot” trends. I feel them. If you want to be original and ahead of the market, which you need to be in this industry, you can’t look around at current trends and then follow them. You kind of have to trust your gut and design something that you just want to design. More often than not, my gut is right, and the outfit I start making today will be in fashion tomorrow. This is one big reason why you don’t need to worry about copycats. The copycat can certainly imitate what you are making now, but you will always be one step ahead, and your clients will learn to trust that.

Pavni
Pavni

What are the 3 things every girl should have in her wardrobe?
Hmmmm. This is a hard one. I’m sad to see it’s a little fad based. This works for me though:
1) The perfect pair of jeans for this season.
2) A casual white t-shirt for the season.
3) A pair of kolapuris. I can’t live without kolapuris. Every time I go to India, I buy 4 pairs in different colors. These are my go-to flats in all casual situations. The awesome part is that they look good enough to wear out to dinner as well.

According to you, where is fashion heading?
I think fashion is heading towards a strong sense of personal style. If you look around nowadays, everything is in fashion. There is no set-in-stone rule on what to wear if you want to be fashionable. The people who look fashionable are the ones who express themselves in their outfit.

Pavni
Pavni

If you had a chance to style any one celeb who would it be and why?
If I was asked to style an Indian celebrity, it would be Sonam Kapoor. Her own personal sense of fashion is impeccable and it would be fun to dress someone who is willing to take risks. She is also just drop dead gorgeous and would look amazing in anything. If I was asked to style a Hollywood star, it would be Mila Kunis. I think she could pull of a young funky vibe as well as an elegant regal look. She’s very versatile.

Lastly, being from here what are your thoughts on the fashion scene in Bangkok?

A couple of years ago, I would have had a much more negative reply to this question but lately, I can see Bangkok changing. People’s styles are changing and becoming more refined. There are more events and platforms to promote design. I hope it only gets better!!

Photos: Dev Mohnani.

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