Saaj by Ankita Spring Summer 17 "Wild Child"

Saaj by Ankita Spring Summer 17 "Wild Child"

The bad news is that when it comes to clothing the human body, almost every thing has been done before. The good news is that it hasn’t been done by each new designer. Why this should matter to anyone else is a tough question that demands a response full of meaning, purpose and confidence ; otherwise it just gets lost in the sea of options that flood the fashion marketplace every year. To truly grasp what one stands for, both personally and as a designer, we caught up with Ankita Chaudhry of Saaj By Ankita, after she showcased her Spring/Summer 17 collection at Amazon India Fashion Week .

Saaj by Ankita Spring Summer 17 "Wild Child" 2

The Interview

How would you describe your brand " Saaj by Ankita"?
SAAJ stands for Sunita my mum, Avantica my sister, Me Ankita and Jaivir Singh Chaudhry- my dad. It’s for the fun loving. In four words … Cool, chic, effortless and spunky.
I don't design for age as in number … I design for the young at heart … I make sure my designs help wearers connect with their surroundings, the planet and the universal forces.

What brought you into fashion?
So I was only 17 years old when I had started off … Got into SRCC in Delhi University ... at the same time I had cleared entrances for NIFT,NID, etc … Seeing the results everyone wanted me to opt for SRCC which I did and ended up regretting it big time. I got out of Uni and went ahead to make a collection which I put into a suitcase ... went from places to places … showrooms to retailers ... and asked people for orders … I still remember my first consignment … and the whole setting up business ... the madness from registration to finances to taxes … gosh how much I hated doing that !!  Keeping up with both college and the business followed by the most annoying part … i.e chasing payments ... today from 3 tailors we are now working with 150 tailors . It wouldn’t have happened without my mom since she used to give sewing and stitching lessons to war widows in order to make them learn a skill … i think I picked up from there. I saw all that and absorbed from it. I was aware of various fabrics, embroideries and stitching techniques from a very early age … no wonder I always aced the sewing classes in my school.
I have been a tomboy all my life but something drew me to this side of the fashionable world and i was hooked ... My sis was an engineer, I made her leave her profession because when I was 17, i looked like a 12 year old boy ... flat chested, lanky … So for people to take me seriously I needed my mum and my sister.
I had no godfather in this industry. I have never worked under someone, never interned … if my college didn't make me do it … I wouldn't have done it at all … the only time I worked for someone before venturing on my own was for JJ Valaya in their retail team … I opened up their Emporio and South Ex store.
Saab by Ankita is at Shahpur Jat … It is my first store … I started off from there. 

How would you describe your design aesthetic?
I believe in quality, craftsmanship and uniqueness in design.

How does your approach differ when it comes to designing your couture line, your pret and your bespoke line?
Patterning is an incredibly elaborate system. Our design method is rooted in these techniques. Sometimes with minimal alterations, we can translate traditional garments into contemporary design, or pret or couture.
Pret is easy and ever changing … like you have new silhouettes to work with every season ... unlike Couture which doesn’t give you a lot of flexibility … its more of a personal signature of my sensibility … if i have assimilated new visual or design experiences, it might show up in my couture pieces, but inherently my personal aesthete will still be pre eminent.
On the other hand … I hate doing bespoke. It rarely feels good :p

How was your approach towards the Spring Summer 17 collection different from your previous years collection?
Every season the approach is a bit different ... It is a sort of evolution, that a designer's philosophy goes through. Invariably I went through a whole lot between my last season and SS17 … haha … When you start on a collection, the R&D just starts with a vague idea of what you would like to express. This process is quite amazing, because everyday we would develop further more on this vague idea. Its like a giant cloud taking form and solidifying every moment until you see what it finally becomes ! For this season, I was quite certain that I had to do something that was not just a step ahead of my previous collections, it was more like a leap ... I wanted to be more fearless in my approach ... I didn't want to look at references or trend forecasts ... I wanted to make a collection that was bold, loud, as colourful as my imagination !
So we opted for a pop-colour palette (kind-of daring when the entire world is using natural colours and monochromes and neutral shades) and on top of these pop-coloured outfits, we did giant animal motifs that were made in multi-colour beaded embroidery.
We had been studying "Gond-Art" for a while and we developed our embroideries on the lines of this ancient art. Gond-Art is one of the oldest art-forms of India. What intrigued me most about it was how it depicted the relationship of man with nature, the bright colours and raw-drawings. 

WILD CHILD - the collection

Saaj by Ankita Spring Summer 17 "Wild Child" 3

Saaj by Ankita Spring Summer 17 "Wild Child" 4

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What sparked your interest in drawing inspiration from mystical creatures?
The real source of inspiration I found was from the world I contain within me. I believe that everybody has their own "World” within themselves. We all have a safe-haven within us, where the outside world shuts down and its just our universe. For me it was always a jungle, a forest, the woods ... something within nature... but then again, I am not that straightforward ! I have imagination ! So the clouds were pink and the sky was green and the trees were made of butterflies and the elephants had wings ! They were, if you were to call them, my "spirit guides", my teachers of faith, of love, of ambition, of perseverance, of innocence, of wisdom ... and it is their forms that I translated into the artwork of the animal motifs.
Like I mentioned earlier, It was a large cloud taking form and different aspects of it were shaping up with different speeds and mechanics.

Is this a departure from your earlier motifs?
I have always used beads in surface texturing/ embroideries. I 'love’ beads ! I love their colour impact, I love the various shapes ! Therefore, over time, my label has become known for the beaded embroideries. For Wild-Child too, we mainly used colourful beads but the mix was different in shapes, textures, colours ... It was a step ahead of past seasons. We added more depth to the usage and also more techniques and elements. Also the multiple colours !! That was the best part - the Colours! We had a great time creating each embroidery piece. We went all-out on colours and materials. Unlike the seasons before where we kept it more structured and restricted. This time it was a colourful Parrrttyyy ;) … And we were working insane hours … and my entire team was always energetic, happy and excited every single day !! It was just the awesome … the atmosphere!

Who is the Wild-Child in you.
We ALL have a Wild-Child inside of us. It comes out from time-to-time, when you are with your closest friends, when you are in "one-of-those moods", or when you are with kids, or when you are all by yourself ... we all have that spark of wildness, that makes us so unique, so bright and so colourful … it is the truest part of you! But we forget it sometimes ... when we try to conform to the norms, when we act how we are 'supposed' to behave and not how we want to … we have layered up that part of us with what the world 'expects' us to be ... but we sometimes remember who we were and we try to live like that and that's when we are at our happiest ! So this collection was me doing just that ! Me being the brightest, happiest, wildest version of me!

You yourself come across as a Preppie sporty girl in your personal style and have a very young vibe !! What are the brands that you like to shop and how do they influence your design aesthetic?
I shop from brands to no brands ... to flea markets to my own sisters wardrobe … tear her kimono tops to make maxi skirts … i enjoy wearing my dad’s shirts a lot ... at the same time i do a lot of random junk shopping. I really used to enjoy wearing Adolfo back in the day. I love wearing my own brand Saaj by Ankita a lot.

As bloggers ,we loved this collection the best among all your shows till now....since the collection had a very young and a trendy vibe … was it a conscious effort to tap into the Instagram generation ?
Well, not a conscious effort … but since the media world is changing … everything has become so democratic … I just expressed what I had to express and I believe they’ll take it on from there.  Everybody would reflect their own personalities in it.

Where do you see your brand in the future?
I am a non-planner … i don’t plan at all. I don’t think five years in advance ... I think a season in advance. I give in my all … a hundred percent into the collection … I always leave the gateway open for things to fall into place on their own … 
I believe when fashion designers relate to their target audience, (in my case, kindred spirits in taste) they also attract those who aspire to the same aesthetic. 
To quote my favourite Crazy-Inspirational philosopher - 

Bukowski "The Laughing Heart"
your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
know them.
take them.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you.

Love, Until next time :)


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