On the 27th of March, a warm summer afternoon, Payal Singhal launched her latest 20th-anniversary collection ‘Sanat’ at Pernia’s Pop-Up Studio.
The powerhouse and adulated couturier showcased the collection inspired by her travel influences to Turkey. Featuring a mastery of prints inspired by Turkish art, light and comfortable fabrics, and taking the trend of print-on-print, the collection carved out a successful niche of fashion meets art. The luxurious space was filled with high-on-glam lehengas, draped saris, shararas and ensembles that are the perfect destination wedding outfits for a summer bride and her family.
Taking a little time out from the hustle, Payal sat across from me, denoting an informal demeanour. For the fast-paced nature of the fashion business and the world around her, her demeanour is quite collected, yet full of energy. We took a look back at the remarkable two decades of her journey as a designer and explored the designer’s new plans.
Curious to know, where her inspiration came from, I ask, “How did your journey begin?” With a sparkle in her eyes, she tells me that at the early age of 15 she knew she was passionate about art and fashion and that was her calling. ” I grew up in a household full of art and fashion. My grandfather was an artist and a photographer and my father had a garment business. So I was always surrounded by creativity.” She went on to narrate how her entrance into the fashion world began, with enthusiasm as it all happened yesterday. “Way before I went to fashion school, Shoppers Stop had a national design contest to launch their store. I participated and won the 1st place! I was so young at the time, but I knew this was what I wanted to do and the award just sealed the deal!”
Even though her collection was already selling at Shoppers Stop, Payal went on to hone her skills at fashion school. ” I went on to study fashion at SNDT and Parsons school of design, New York which helped me a lot. I began my career working as a stylist at MTV and finally launched my label at the age of 21 and that was ten years ago!”
Like all great art, Payal Singhal’s collections are timeless, yet reinvented to stay true to the changing times. Luxe collections of contemporary Indian wear continue to be her signature and are a symphony of excellent fabrics, exceptional prints and resplendent embroidery. “The last two seasons, I’ve been really inspired by arts and crafts and I’ve tried to embrace it. It’s really beyond handicraft or a glossy and finished look. There’s a lot of rawness, frayed edges, fringes and a lot of inspiration has come from carpets” Speaking about her current collection, she iterated, “In the 20th-anniversary capsule collection we have used traditional Turkish carpet motifs fused with bright and vibrant Mexican and Indian colours. Our aim was to merge these elements to create unique patterns which don’t look Indian, Mexican or Turkish. The collection has a destination summer wedding vibe and is perfect for bridesmaids and friends and family of the bride and groom. That was one of my main focus-To be appealing to the bridesmaids and wedding guest and make them feel special too.”
Year after year, she continues to grow the couture and
I was curious about her most cherished collection and greatest design experience. She tells me about her first collection ever in 1996! “It was my graduation collection and I titled it ‘The Satanic Verse’.” It was the first time in India, someone designed a collection of black bridal wear. “I remember it so clearly! The collection with black fabrics embellished with black beads sold straight off the runway.”
Fascinated by her spark of ambition, confidence, and enthusiasm, that drives her heart, I ask her what the future holds for her and what is her next collection all about. “Sanat was the curtain raiser for completing twenty years. But I am planning another collection to commemorate my journey and I really want it to be the best collection of my life. The collection will be out in August 2019 and there will be more bridal and couture pieces. It’s going to be an oath to the body of work we have done in the past twenty years.”
As a piece of advice to young designers, she says” Education and experience cannot be ignored! Without education, one is bound to struggle. Speaking from personal experience, even though I studied fashion, I neglected pattern making as a subject. And I still struggle with it. Apart from that, real-world experience can really teach you a lot. One can learn from the mistakes of others; that’s the best part about working under someone.”
Her 20th-anniversary collection received huge praises by the shoppers. Prominent personalities like Shibani Dandekar, Isabelle Kaif and Sanjeeda Shaikh graced the event as Payal Singhal’s muses. Payal works day in and day out, making women around the world feel special in their PS outfit. Her energy is infectious and in a short meeting, she has the ability to inspire and amaze anyone.
Cover Image by Khushboo Lalwani @kaybeedoodledo