Team FUCHSIA went into the meeting with Vikram Phadnis strategizing fervently on how to have a good interview with a designer of his calibre, in town for the first time to showcase his work. Little did we know that when we sit with him and start talking, it is going to feel like a late-night catch-up session with long-lost friends!
Hailing from a family of established practicing doctors, Vikram’s journey into fashion began with choreography. He has since proven his mettle as one of the foremost designers to dress the upper echelons of Bollywood, despite his lack of training in the field.
FUCHSIA: So, was it medicine you studied instead, like the rest of your family?
“I actually studied Science for 2 years and my family wanted me to be a doctor like my parents and sister … I was forced into something I did not enjoy; hence I restarted my learning, losing 2.5 years in the process, but gaining experience in fashion choreography as I studied.”
FUCHSIA: Which song/movie did you start your choreography with, and how did it take you into fashion?
“Well … choreography is always associated with dance; very few people know that it was fashion shows that I choreographed for 8 years before I started designing.”
Vikram was encouraged by celebrity designer Hemant Trivedi to turn professional, which he did by choreographing former Miss India, Mehr Jesia. (Many of us would recognize this lovely lady as the wife of Bollywood actor Arjun Rampal.) He then went on to work with the likes of Lubna Adams, Anna Breydmeyer, Milind Soman and Sangeeta Bijlani.
How much has the industry changed since then?
“It is definitely easier now because of social media, accessibility to designers and choreographers; the entertainment business is instant! But it was very different previously … we were a handful of designers that used the same fifteen models for each show. Now, no model can touch the superlative catwalk that the former models did. Earlier, there was a reason and a purpose to a show but now there are ten fashion weeks in a year!”
With so many fashion shows, surely there must be a need to discern and strategise well?
“That is why you have to be very selective in choosing your showcase! Today, anybody can stand and start their property in fashion; I choose to do the only one Lakme Fashion Week in a year. You have to decide when, why and how – to garner more audience, showcase a new collection and whether it makes commercial sense. I do many commercial shows to cater to my clientele worldwide. I showcase in Toronto, Dubai, South Africa … where I have a set Indian clientele, since I do not design Western wear.”
As for Pakistani designs, how can Vikram not love them?
“The cuts, embroidery and silhouettes are beyond gorgeous! Embroidery sets the Pakistani work apart; it’s just different, it is delicately stunning!”
On his bridal work repertoire, which is extensive, and well-renowned, Vikram says, “Conversations are based on colour, cut, length etc. A bride will generally have 6 to 7 outfits that she shops around with the different designers on my team; I query on what she is working on with them, and offer my expertise so that she and her family are happy. You want a bride to be very happy on her special day!”
So, who in Bollywood does he think needs a major makeover?
“Why does anyone need a makeover? Govinda carries his style with aplomb; Aishwarya has her own style. I do not believe in telling anyone how to dress, they all have their own personalities, and it shows. Our girls in Bollywood have superb stylists, and they are doing a great job of representing themselves on the red carpet. According to me, Priyanka Chopra dresses very well; she knows her body type and dresses it to perfection.”
If you think this intrinsic artistic ability is going to stay limited to fashion, you couldn’t be more wrong! With Vikram Phadnis Signature Weddings, the designer is venturing into wedding décor and planning too.
“It helps me hone my artistic abilities, and blends beautifully into how the couple dreams up the perfect day!”
After all this useful banter, FUCHSIA couldn’t resist asking why this quintessential Alpha-male with dark, brooding, chocolatey good looks is not in the movies. With a shy chuckle, Vikram says, “I love what I do. I think I am better behind the camera, and will be directing my first film soon … but acting is a big NO!” It seems our interviewee has been working on a script over the past 2 years, and might get it on the floor next year.
“My songs are ready and recorded. It’s a film based on cancer, and the relationship between a mother and daughter.”
Wow, what else does Vikram Phadnis have up his creative sleeves?
Vikram Phadnis will be displaying his latest collection at “The Boutique” on 8th September at The Hilton Hotel.