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Runway shows have become more about the PR, says Surily Goel

In an interview with 'Lounge', the designer talks about her 20-year journey in the fashion industry, what inspires her and the changing fashion scene

Designer Surily D.P. Goel in her Mumbai office
Designer Surily D.P. Goel in her Mumbai office

Designer Surily Goel is famous for creating boho luxe designs. Beads, lace and geometric motifs steeped in folklore and free-flowing silhouettes fill her collections. Drawing inspiration from cinema, music, art, travel, food, and personal experiences, she's carved a niche for herself and dressed the who's who of the glamour world, from supermodels like Mehr Jessia to actors like Preity Zinta.

Her new campaign, styled by Anaita Shroff Adajania and shot by Rohan Shrestra, marks her 20 years in the fashion industry.

Surily Goel's new campaign to mark 20 years in the industry.
Surily Goel's new campaign to mark 20 years in the industry.

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In an interview with Lounge, Goel talks about her journey and the influences that shape her work. Edited excerpts:

Your design vocabulary has always been informed by an array of cinematic influences, jet-set glam and a touch of folklore. As the brand clocks in 20, what has changed and what has remained the same?

I still believe in our gypsy style and boho vibe. However, over the years, this sensibility has evolved and refined.

My designs have always been inspired by my travels and give me the freedom to express myself. But my love for Indian tradition is embedded in my heart, so you will always see mirrors and beads in geometric patterns in my ensembles.

What are your favourite textiles, embroideries and silhouettes to experiment with?

I always believe in one focal point in my designs, so while the mirror embroideries with shells and beads have always been the focus, the fabrics and silhouettes have been flowy and classic.

How do you interpret boho luxe?

Jaipur, Rishikesh and Goa are my favourite cities in india. Boho luxe, to me, is a sense of freedom with a hint of luxury. I enjoy extrapolating traditional embroideries inspired from Rajasthan folklore and reinterpreting them in a modern way.

You started with Manish Malhotra. How did your early design influences shaped up your core aesthetic?

Manish Malhotra has been a huge influence in shaping up my career and my life! I studied fashion at Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM), Los Angeles, but on ground I was totally trained by him.

How important is Bollywood for your brand?

Bollywood is important to every brand. In today's day and age where everything is about social media and digital marketing, it’s the best way to create brand awareness and reach out across the board.

You’ve often taken long sabbaticals in between collections…

Honestly, I don’t take long sabbaticals at all. I only took a two-year long break as I had some personal and health issues to address, but yes, I do believe it’s important to focus on your life and recharge.

Who’s the Surily G woman?

She is a free soul, a traveller, an explorer and someone who is not afraid to express herself.

What’s your design process like?

My design process is fairly simple. I get inspired by so many things around me and on a subconscious level, it gets interpreted organically.

You’ve been off runway for a long time. Do you think physical shows have lost their relevance?

Yes, I have been off the runway for a long time. I do feel the game has changed over the years. Runway shows have become more about the PR and frills around it. I rather keep it simple and focus on my product.

You’ve a specific sense of personal style. Does that impact your overall aesthetic?

My personal style is my reality. I am a simple girl who loves to dream. My aesthetics are informed by my fantasies and reflect my ability to express them in reality.

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