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Bubbling with creativity

Utsav Malhotra, Shravanti Reddy, Karnati Sridhar and Sunil Chinamaneni have just graduated in fashion design. With a passion and zeal for design, these prize-winning students of NIFT are raring to make a mark in the fashion industry.



WAITING IN THE WINGS: (From Left) Utsav Malhotra, Karnati Sridhar, Shravanti Reddy and Sunil Chinnamaneni. — Photo: P.V. Sivakumar

THEY ARE young creative minds waiting to set the design arena on fire. Bubbling with ideas, with oodles of enthusiasm and stamina to work hard, the four graduate award winners from the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) are getting ready to step into a `haute' world where fashion is slowly hitting the headlines. Utsav Malhotra, Karnati Sridhar, Sunil Chinnamaneni and Shravanti Reddy won accolades for their creations at their graduation show. Barring Utsav who hails from Delhi, the other three are from Andhra Pradesh.

Vignettes of their creativity were visible in their work showcased at the graduation show. Right from a young age, their latent creativity was manifest in painting, drawing, making models from waste and clothes. NIFT provided an opportunity to hone their skills. They are perhaps the first to step into the world of fashion from their families.

Their passion for design is very much evident when they speak with candour about their stint in NIFT and their collection. "We realised fashion design is not just glitz and glamour which is what comes to the forefront. The sleepless nights and hard work does not figure at all. All of us really worked hard at the Institute," say the four. Once they got into the groove there was no looking back. The course, as they all endorse, makes the student sound. Based on the course in the Fashion Design Institute in New York, it is customised to requirement in India.

The themes chosen for their graduation creations were not imaginative but thought provoking in terms of the subject and its treatment. Based on forecast, client's needs, fabric and styling, the four worked meticulously to interpret their theme. "We had to passionately think about the theme and stay with it for six months," says Utsav, the best design student. "One needed to be really in it and the theme chosen reflects his/her personality to a large extent," says Shravanti, who won the best design collection. "This was the first chance to do good work," says Sridhar, who explored Origami and translated the geometric shapes on to fabric - Khadi silk procured from Cuddapah. Sridhar won the prize for the best construction.

For Utsav, the thought stemmed from a topic given for an oral speech competition - "If you need to survive in a civilised world you need to be a hypocrite." Isn't this the truth? He asks. "I realised that we are creating a new identity of ours this way. I wanted to celebrate the joy in the individual in putting up the farce. For this I used new blends of jamevar (cheaper imitation - using viscose, lycra, spandex, silk which stretches and adjusts to the situation). This is paired with leather and denim to impart the new look.

Sunil has been inspired by Ajanta paintings (he made a trip there too) - particularly the costumes and colours. He combined ikkat and block printing and got the fabric developed at Putlapaka. This fetched him the Prasad Bidapa prize for best textile development.

Shravanti chose AIDS as she thought she "could use clothes to express a social problem and prevent it." `Dare to care', the theme was interestingly developed through prints.

These prize-winners have different plans to forge ahead in fashion. While Utsav will work with Arvind Brands (perhaps the only one to have made it to this Company), Shravanti has got admission in London College of Fashion for a two-year course on Fashion design technology on surfaces (she hopes to get the visa), Sridhar plans to work with a designer in Delhi to hone his skills and Sunil is exploring various options.

Has Indian fashion come of age? "Certainly," vouch the four. "The talent is there and financial investment is necessary. Moreover people are getting self-conscious about looking good and dressing up," adds Utsav.

Is not designer wear still elitist though the pręt line which is fast catching up is increasingly made accessible to people? "One is paying for quality and exclusivity and it is customised in terms of fit, fabrics and colours," say Utsav, Shravanti and Sunil.

Is copying and lifting of ideas common in the field? "All creativity is mere imitation, said G.B. Shaw - there are endless possibilities to explore. So a product may look similar, but it is not the same," says Utsav.

Are these four lured by movies as designing for movies seems to be the trend? Do they want to make fashion statements through movies? There is definitely the aspect of money in this. Shravanti is definitely looking towards the tinsel world (following the footsteps of Anna Singh and Neeta Lulla?). She does not mind designing for stars in the Telugu film industry as she feels that stars take fashion forward. While Utsav feels contributing to the world of fashion is important than earning out of it.

Hyderabad does not produce designers like other metros. "There is good scope here but something holds them back. One reason could be paucity of talent. There is a need for people to design for the locals keeping in mind their requirements," feel the four.

What counts in the making of a good designer? According to the four "a combination of various factors - talent, skill, creativity, timing and luck. One needs to have the zing to succeed." And surely the four have the spark in them to make it big and create ripples in the industry. All the big names in fashion watch out for these wannabe designers.

RADHIKA RAJAMANI

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