Exhibit’s Fashion Designer of the Month, Ms. Payal Singhal, sure makes for a great story as she tells her story herself right from winning the ‘Shoppers Stop Designer of the Year’ show to most recently having a standalone showcase at the LFW‘17. Read on to find out the whole story as she shares her highlighted career moments and preferences in technology and fashion with us.
Exhibit: Your journey.
Payal Singhal: When we started out 18 years ago, there was a vacuum in the space for modern Indian clothes for the younger generation. So we decided to fill that void and thus younger, fresher silhouettes became our niche. I started off in fashion at a time when there was no real platform for design in the country. Social media, fashion week, and celebrity stylists were unheard of concepts. From that to the current state of the industry, the evolution has definitely been massive.
Exhibit: Most remarkable experience in your career was with.
PS: Shibani Dandekar. I’ve known Shibani for close to 14 years now and we share a great camaraderie. We were both part of a fashion show in New York that was being organised by common friends. Our connection goes back to before we reached the professional success we enjoy today. It’s an extremely emotional equation, and moreover, Shibani carries every PS outfit beautifully as well!
Exhibit: Can you tell us about your first big break?
PS: The first mainstream outfit that I designed was for the ‘Shoppers Stop Designer of the Year’ show at the age of 15 that was worn by Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. It turned out to be the winning garment, and even after so many years, continues to be a defining moment in my career as it validated my choice of fashion as a career.
Exhibit: Your experience at LFW 2017.
PS: This was my first solo show and it was an amazing experience. Initially, I was nervous as the pressure to pull off a whole show by yourself is daunting. But on the day, things went off as smoothly as ever, leaving me wondering why I had any worries in the first place. A solo show is an incredible opportunity. It gives you the ability to tell your story how you envision it, without any restrictions that sharing a show slot might put on you.
Exhibit: Describe your personal style.
PS: My personal style is very comfort oriented, and my wardrobe is full of travel-friendly clothes and fabrics that don’t need ironing. But at the same time, I enjoy fashion so I always pick pieces that are high on style as well. It’s all about maximum impact with minimum effort for me.
Exhibit: Fashion scene in India now and 5 years later?
PS: I love everything vintage. But I also feel it needs to be practically adapted and contemporarised for the present generation. Hence, modernising silhouettes is the need of the hour according to me. Now I see an increasing number of designers catering to a similar mindset and creating for a global consumer who wishes to wear her tradition with a dash of modern insouciance. Sadly Indian fashion has been straitjacket into a frivolous category but the industry is in fact, grossly underrated. Fashion is a substantial, serious business and also a very lucrative industry for the country’s revenue.
“ Even after so many years, my win at the ‘Shoppers Stop Designer of the Year’ show continues to be a defining moment in my career as it validated my choice of fashion as a career. ”
Exhibit: Tech, Fashion and Payal Singhal.
PS: I have a love-hate relationship with technology. So, while I’m not totally alien to it, I am also not as adept as the younger generation. However, Technology does feature in various aspects of my life beyond just work— from Kindle, Apple watch, and Apple TV to wireless speakers, there’s no denying its omnipresence. However, I am a social media addict and love Instagram. Social media and online shopping has given brands the kind of reach that wasn’t possible earlier. Even while sitting in an African country you can order an outfit from an Indian designer, make your payment online and have it shipped it to your doorstep, all thanks to technology!
Exhibit: Your inspiration.
PS: I am a very visually driven person and textures and patterns inspire me. To create something concrete and see a concept turn into a reality also drives me. I’m extremely taken by shows like Downton Abbey, and books like Pride & Prejudice. There is just something about the romanticism, simplicity, and conduct of the period that draws me to it.
Exhibit: Advice for budding fashion designers.
PS: Young designers today are in a big hurry to make it big. Our culture of social media and instant gratification fuels that too thus making it easier to launch oneself. But I think it’s imperative to get the right work experience and training by working with a designer or production house. It is an invaluable part of our education and it’s a great disservice to your career if you ignore it.
Exhibit: What’s on cards for Payal Singhal next in 2017?
PS: I started the year with my first solo show at Lakmé Fashion Week in February. Inspired by the dark romanticism of the murder mystery ‘Death on the Nile’ by Agatha Christie, this Summer 2017 ‘Lady M’ collection was a nod to the nuanced finesse of high society dressing in the late 1930s. 2017 will be an exciting year for our brand — we are revamping our online store for a more enhanced experience and have also launched our quarterly in-house magazine called PS Diary.
- Fashion myth: That dark-skinned people should only wear dark or bright colours.
- Go-to fashion trend: Low crotch dhoti pants – they are comfortable and can go from day to night, and casual to formal easily.
- Best piece of advice given to you: From my father when I started my career at 21. He said, “In this industry, be a race horse with blinkers in your eyes and focus on your finish line i.e. your goal as a designer and not get distracted by other opportunities that may come your way. Don’t be a Jack-of-all-trades.”
- One product on your tech bucket list: Samsung Gear VR, a virtual reality headset.
- Most cherished career moment: Winning the ‘Shoppers Stop Designer of the Year’ at the age of 15.
- Favorite people to dress up in your collections: Neha Dhupia and Shibani Dandekar
- One fashion trend that you’d like to make obsolete forever: Puffed-sleeved frocks in bright coloured satin that was so popular with actresses in the ’80s.
- Favorite apps: Beauty plus.
- Runway or Red Carpet: Runway.