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Why we need to celebrate the horizontal line in fashion

Designer Hemant Trevedi on his collection 'Paradoxical Shadows', how the industry is evolving and the urgent need to challenge design norms

From Hemant Trevedi's solo collection 'Paradoxical Shadows’
From Hemant Trevedi's solo collection 'Paradoxical Shadows’ (Courtesy Hemant Trevedi)

Over four decades ago, designer Hemant Trevedi moved from Australia to Mumbai to do “something out of the norm”. He was among the first Indian designers to study abroad. The world of Indian fashion was then restricted to a smattering of design houses, small exhibitions near Mumbai’s Marine Drive, and “goras selling gowns in Taj hotel’s foyer”.

Since then, Trevedi has come a long way. He's dressed beauty queens for international competitions, including Miss World 1994 Aishwarya Rai, Miss World 1997 Diana Hayden and Miss World 2000 Priyanka Chopra. After a brief recess following an accident in 2000, the designer started focusing more on teaching, mentoring and designing for other brands.

Last month, the 61-year-old launched an eponymous label with luxury fashion house Purple Style Labs, with the collection called Paradoxical Shadows.

Also read | Indian fashion: Time for a revival, again?

We spoke to Trevedi about his new collection, the inspiration behind it and how the industry has changed over the years. Edited excerpts:

Hemant Trevedi
Hemant Trevedi (Courtesy Hemant Trevedi)

How does it feel to finally have your own label collection?

Ever since I entered the fashion circuit, I have always donated my talent and name to others. For the first time in my life, after joining hands with Purple Style Labs, I have the creative freedom to design for my own eponymous label, and it feels nothing less than a dream come true. I have been able to channel my talent and creativity into something that truly belongs to me, and it feels wonderful to be able to do that. To have someone wear something from my label and feel special in it has always been of utmost importance to me and I’m glad I have been able to reach this point in my career.

What kept you busy before starting the work on the new collection?

During my brief recess from mainstream fashion, I had been venturing into other avenues of the fashion industry. I have spent a huge chunk of this time mentoring young designers of the country and it's truly been synonymous with my own journey as a designer. When you sit with a young student designer, with big dreams in his/her eyes, this is what gives you the scope to move from one fabulous mind to another and it's definitely been a pleasure to nurture these young minds.

Why the name ‘Paradoxical Shadows’?

The inspiration came to me when I was at an uncertain stage in my life. When you’re in a difficult situation or on a flat line, you have nowhere to go and, therefore, you either go up or down. This is what I wanted to challenge; and celebrate the fact that even on a horizontal line, you can still keeping going. As the name Paradoxical Shadows suggests, I have contradicted the norm that most designers follow about the vertical line and found beauty in the horizontal line. By breaking design rules of valid reasoning, I have proved that a logical conclusion can be achieved by using tonal, shadowed colouring and subtle garment details, thereby still celebrating the often ignored horizontal line.

I have always been someone who likes living on the edge and doing something out of the norm, and the result of that was Paradoxical Shadows. As most designers follow the vertical line, since it gives the illusion of length, I wanted to challenge this mindset and find truth in the ignored horizontal line. I strongly believe that if done correctly, the horizontal line can be as beautiful as the vertical line.

How has the fashion industry changed since your return?

The fashion industry in this country has taken giant leaps since I came into the scene back in 1979. When I was emerging into this industry, there was barely any infrastructure in place, be it about design knowledge or exposure. In that aspect, along with the emergence of digital developments, the fashion industry has definitely evolved. Although, another trend that has emerged in the last few years that I’ve noticed is that designers have been drawing inspiration from western standards of fashion, but as a designer of Indian origin, I think it's of utmost importance to draw from your own roots rather than looking towards the West.

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