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"These Are Precarious Times" : Payal Khandwala On Her New Collection & What Lies Ahead

Fashion wouldn't be what it is without its storytellers but most importantly, its craftsmen, who translate those stories into the clothes we wear. Today, as the COVID-19 outbreak signals havoc, disrupting businesses and putting everything on a pause, Payal Khandwala agrees that the craftsmen are the first to bear the brunt of this pandemic. Her latest collection debuted days before the pandemic hit India in full swing; for now, business remains shut as advisories, time and again, proclaim the need of the hour: Stay indoors. 

So what must be done once the storm has passed? We spoke to the designer about her thoughts on the pandemic and its impact; her new collection and her muse; her design process in a pre-COVID time and her hopes for the future. 

Image Courtesy: Payal Khandwala
Image Courtesy: Payal Khandwala

Luxeva: In the current scenario where we are in the midst of a pandemic, how would you say it has affected the fashion business and what are your thoughts at this time?

Payal Khandwala: "The fashion industry is certainly reeling from this pandemic. These are precarious times and we are going to need all the help and support that we can get, without which most businesses will not be able to sustain their overheads and continue to keep their employees on the payroll. This means that even the craftsmen and their families will suffer immensely if there is not a timely intervention."

Luxeva: Do you see a way forward for the industry once the crisis is over?

Payal Khandwala: "One way to mitigate this is when the dust settles, everyone is encouraged to buy at least one garment from their most liked Indian labels. Perhaps in some small way, this will address a minimal portion of the fallout and help sustain the livelihoods of the most impacted community—artisans and the families that depend on them."

Image Courtesy: Payal Khandwala
Image Courtesy: Payal Khandwala

Luxeva: Your collection came out a few days before the crisis. Tell us about the inspiration that led you to it. 

Payal Khandwala: "The graphic wildflower motif is in focus this season. Found in unexpected places, this blossom still disarms us with its charm and beauty. In a way, much like the women that I design for.

This became the starting point for a collection of effortless separates to usher in the warmer months. Adding to it a dramatic print story, vivid colours, breathable fabrics like handwoven Khadi, cotton, linen, silks and our much-admired heat-set pleats, we’re designed silhouettes that were perfect for the spring and summer months."

Image Courtesy: Payal Khandwala
Image Courtesy: Payal Khandwala

Luxeva: What was the entire design process like? 

Payal Khandwala: "Once we locked in the motif, we engineered where the graphics would be placed on the garments. Some were all-over patterns and some were engineered specifically for each garment. Then we picked the colour palette, in this case, a riot of colours like burnt orange, canary yellow, leaf green and ultraviolet teamed with a neutral chestnut brown and ivory.
I wanted the collection to be playful and easy with silhouettes that work for women of all ages, sizes, shapes, and personalities."

Image Courtesy: Payal Khandwala
Image Courtesy: Payal Khandwala

Luxeva: You mention that it's a nod to "women who refuse to be tamed" in your collection notes. Could you elaborate on that a bit?

Payal Khandwala: "Like all the wildflowers that refuse to be cultivated, this collection was a nod to all the non-conformists we know and love! The women who march to the beat of their own drum, who are comfortable even when out of place and chart their own paths. Whether in life or with their sense of style they are unpredictable and that is part of their allure. Fierce yet always feminine."

Image Courtesy: Payal Khandwala
Image Courtesy: Payal Khandwala

Luxeva: In the same vein, do you think that women in various fields are finally getting their due to the extent that they ought to? 

Payal Khandwala: "I think it’s a long road to complete equality across the board but slowly and steadily we are getting there. I do feel women have to work harder to get their due and equal pay, but in recent times we have rallied some support from both men and women. I’m optimistic that we will leave the workforce a better place for our daughters and will fight tooth and nail for what they deserve."

Featured Image: Payal Khandwala

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