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Designs on India
Models in Aimee’s creations

London-based designer Aimee McWilliams has taken a liking for India — the food, the language, the films and the villages. But her true interest in the country is purely fashion-driven. Aimee wants to launch a design label in India. The winner of the 2007 Scottish Designer of the Year Award, Aimee is collaborating with Calcutta-based export house Geetanjali Designs to develop “a luxury label exclusively for the Indian market”.

“With Indian designers participating in fashion shows abroad, finding place at Harrods and other international stores and foreign designers globally outsourcing services to Indian manufacturers, fashion is big here. The timing is perfect for me to launch in this country,” feels Aimee, in town recently for research work.

A graduate from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, the 27-year-old talks to t2 about fashion, fashion and more fashion...

How would you describe your style sensibility?

My style sensibilities have strong character and confidence. The outcome is luxurious and high-end. My colour palette is mood driven. Sometimes it is made of black and white, at times bright oranges and reds. Currently, it is all about subtle blends.

What would you say are the biggest trends doing the rounds now?

High-street fashion is big. Huge rhinestones and studs are everywhere in high-street fashion.

As a creator, how difficult is it adhering to set trends?

I tend to avoid trends. I have too much of an identity to follow other people.

What, according to you, is a recent ramp trend that has really caught on with the masses?

Unlike the 80s and 90s, today fashion on ramp is adapted off it as well. These are trends that are not confidently weird; they are intellectual, subtle and do not scream a statement. Recently, quilting, sequins and rhinestone work have filtered from the ramp to the masses.

Tell us something about the collection that you are designing for India...

A lot of research and groundwork has gone into deciding the look. We have visited boutiques and also observed the way people like to dress here. The collection will be a blend of my signature style and what goes down well with the Indian market. We will focus on details, have fantastic blends of colours and embellishments.

The label will cater to women in their 30s. The ensembles will not follow one-season trends; they will be all-time favourites treasured in the closet. The look will be eveningwear and formal with few casuals thrown in. There will be red-carpet dresses, jackets, trousers, shirts, accessories…

We are looking at showcasing the collection at the India Fashion Week in Delhi next September. Retailing should hopefully start prior to that.

What other collection are you working on?

I am currently working on my Autumn-Winter 2008-09 collection to be showcased at the London Fashion Week in February. From there, I will move on to the fashion weeks in Milan and Paris. The line is different from what I have been doing earlier. The Indian collaboration has been an influence. There are lots of weaves, blend of shades and stripes.

What are your influences in general?

By and large, I draw a lot of inspiration from obscure and unusual films, which are bizarre and nonsensical. These are films from the 60s… cult films… like El Topo. Cinematography has always fascinated me. It’s not about the clothes that the actors are sporting but the technology used, the use of light and more…

You have won the 2007 Scottish Designer of the Year Award. Are awards important?

Yes, they are important. There is a sense of satisfaction you get from them. You feel you have reached a certain noticeable point in your career. Even to be nominated is an honour.

How do you deal with criticism?

It is frustrating when your creation is not successful and there is lack of appreciation. But I look at this way: every collection of mine is an ongoing process of my growth. My current ideas are not segregated from my previous design sensibilities. It is a part of my philosophical journey. As long as the cycle goes on, I am happy.

What do you find missing in Indian fashion?

There are so many beautiful elements here but there is lack of finishing. There has to be more focus on construction.

Where will you put India on the fashion map?

It is a totally different world. The market is different here, primarily because of the climate. Fashion sensibilities here are different as well. But again, a lot has changed in the last couple of years. An Indian today is well travelled and brand conscious. Fashion in India is not as big as London or Milan, not rising at the pace of Japan, LA or Russia, but India is a growing market indeed.

Any fashion faux pas that you have noticed on Calcutta streets? And something you liked...

The other day at the zoo, I saw a girl wearing a white dress, cap, shades and bindi! The woven wraps (shawls) around are amazing!

An Indian designer who has impressed you...

Sabyasachi Mukherjee. His sensitivity is very different from what I have seen around.

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