Exclusive: "Designing for London Fashion Week is No Easy Task" – Delna Poonawalla Reveals

Ranjit Rodricks
Delna Poonawalla
Delna Poonawalla

I have known Delna Poonawalla ever since she made her design debut back in the 90s at a multi-designer store in Mumbai called Purple Porcupine, the brainchild of designer and stylist, Niharika Khan. What immediately impressed me about her collection were the sarees with slashes all over them. Back then, it was a novel idea and the only couture sarees one could really buy were the heavily embroidered ones by Tarun Tahiliani and his ilk. Hence, Delna’s punk idea was very out-of-the-box and refreshing and had me keenly follow her evolution as a designer, over the years.

Delna is now winging her way to London to take part for the first time at the prestigious London Fashion Week, later this month. She took part in Lakme Fashion Week last season in Mumbai but tells us, “I studied fashion in London and have spent a lot of time there. Hence, this city holds a special place in my heart.”

In an exclusive interview with Team MissMalini, Delna talks about her collection for this globally famous event and the difficulties she faced in putting it all together.

A jumpsuit by Delna Poonawalla for London Fashion Week
A jumpsuit by Delna Poonawalla for London Fashion Week

Team MM: What made you decide to go international with London Fashion Week this year?
Delna Poonawalla: I was invited by the organizers of the event to show. It happened quite suddenly and I believe it has come to me at the right place and the right time. Presenting at a fashion week is something I regard with great respect. Being a part of it means being a part of the fashion world and that my designs and work are appreciated by a larger and vast audience. I also studied fashion in London and have spent a lot of time there. Hence, it holds a special place in my heart. Showing at London Fashion Week means the world to me.

Team MM: What is the collection about, in terms of inspirations, fabrics, ornamentation, accessories, etc?
DP: The collection is about my connect to spirituality and using that as inspiration to create a kaleidoscope through linear geometric patterns. To incorporate this, I worked on a print, where I mirror-imaged each piece in the finest detail with a mix of fluid layering as well as some very structured pieces. Colour blocking continues to be a theme for me, though this time, I have mixed it with prints using colours of the seven chakras – violet and blue being the highest energy that enters through the crown, to baby pink which is the colour of true love and the heart chakra. I have used raised bugle beads to highlight the beautiful geometric prints as well as different leather techniques.

A print for a jacket by Delna Poonawalla
A print for a jacket by Delna Poonawalla

Attention to detail is paramount in terms of finishing, which includes a paper pattern for each individual piece (as the print is designed to fit the exact width of a jacket or top for example, while a dress may use the pattern differently). The lining is also printed in my running logo and each garment has to be sent twice to the embroiderers, as all the leather trimmings are attached on the garment once it is completely ready, for a perfect finish.

The print, in its combination with solid pastel colours, speaks of a modern collection yet keeping in tune with my inherent culture, and that is what truly inspires me.

Footwear by Delna Poonawalla
Footwear by Delna Poonawalla

I have also paid a great deal of attention to my accessories, and specially designed shoes and wrist bands to go with the collection. The shoes and bands are colour blocked in pink, grey and white leather. Again, we have used different skin effects and peek-a-boo cut outs, giving them an edge.

Team MM: What are the difficulties you have faced in this endeavour?
DP: It has been a challenge since I have used many different techniques, the mirror imaging has been no easy task, as colours and prints have to be put together seamlessly. We had to work on getting the colours right, as they had to coordinate with the chakra colours. The garments had to go back and forth into embroidery for the leather trimmings to get attached, which is time consuming.

A good team is very important, and not to be able to take the entire team to London makes it a tough task to handle.

Footwear by Delna Poonawalla
Footwear by Delna Poonawalla

Team MM: How is the process different from taking part in a local Indian fashion week?
DP: We are a select contingent of Indian designers who have been invited for the show. It has been a wonderful experience interacting with the organizers of the event and we look forward to the platform it will provide us. I wouldn’t say there is much difference in the process of taking part although some procedures are different. Our Indian Fashion weeks have a very professional approach, especially my interaction with Lakme Fashion Week recently. All in all, it’s a pleasurable experience.

Team MM: Where will this collection be available for purchase?
DP: The collection will be available at my studio located at Worli and for online purchase through my Facebook page. Aside from that, I will also be stocking at a few selected stores around India and internationally as well.