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Pallavi Bharavi Jaikishan


Pallavi and Bharavi Jaikishan, a mother and daughter team of designer complement each other’s creations. Pallavi concentrates on the ethnic themes and Bhairavi on bold western outfits.

The world of fashion no doubt is one of high profile personalities who operate either solo or as a team in pairs. But very rarely does one come across a mother and daughter combination that is in the fashion designing business but on totally diverse levels. Pallavi and Bhairavi Jaikishan make a formidable high fashion team in India, each identifying her creative role quite distinctly. While Pallavi remains loyal to her ethnic Indian themes Bhairavi is the true product of the avant garde western designing world with her bizarre shocking touches of creativity that cater to the needs of the futuristic minded woman.

For long years Pallavi Jaikishan, the very talented wife the late music director Jaikishan, preferred to keep a low profile, shying away from publicity and the glare of the flash lights so much a part of her husband’s profession. Pallavi, however, has never trained herself for the fashion business but has a tremendous amount of inborn talent that enables her to create garments around which dreams are wove. Pallavi’s foray into the fashion world was subtle. “I designed and embroidered my own saris for film premieres which were appreciated by friends”, she recalls. Soon the logical result was her own shop, ‘Paraphernalia’ in an elite part of Bombay in 1972. As the name suggests the shop had everything- clothes, household linen and designer items for the home. She also created compolete bridal trousseaux for her exclusive clientele from her residence. Trousseaux, which included sheets, linen and even slippers and shoes.

It was a visitor from USA, Sister Max, a disciple of the Dalai Lama, to her shop who gave Pallavi her big fashion break. Based in California with stores on fashionable Rodeo Drive, Sister Max was not a designer but definitely an excellent business woman who recognized the creative talents of Pallavi. Soon a thriving business was launched with fabulous beaded garments under the label, “Pallavi for Sister Max”. Each blouse retailed for as much as $ 450 and Pallavi’s creations were featured in US TV serials, fashion magazines and shows. The partnership lasted for seven years following which Pallavi struck out on her own in the US and Europe by appointing agents and taking part in prestigious fairs like Igedo in West Germany. Pallavi’s Paraphernalia is now replaced by Repertoire at Interplaza in Bombay and Delhi. Her creations are executed by her 70 men factory for export as well as the local market. One of the first designers to experiment and promote khadi, Pallavi’s treatment of a fabric is always delicate and feminine. He colours are vibrant yet pastel. Her fabric choice full bodies yet soft and flowing. Her basic salwar-kameez silhouette is loose, layered and sensuous.

From pristine white to pearly ivories she turns to vibrant flame or ruby red. Her use of embroidery is her forte for it does tend to be opulent without being garish. She has resorted to traditional concepts of Chinese embroidery for kurtas or the all over chikan work versions. Delicate pearl embroidery on white and ivory is another of her favourites. Creating the double duptta look or the kameeze with the over jacket are some of Pallavi’s innovations in ethnic wear. Recently she has branched into ethnic mens’wear that once again bears her distinct stamp with subtle tonal embroidery. “I love working with soft fabrics that drape and flow. My garments have always had elaborate and luxuriously flowing lines, rich fabrics spangled with beads and sequins. Cuts that swirl and tease but always flatter the woman because I believe nothing becomes a woman like feminity.” Pallavi’s look for the 91-92 festive season is a blend of the rich and the elaborate. From lush ghagra-cholis in sheer tissue with unconventional odhnis to flowing vibrant salwar-kameez, she creates garments of luxury. Her sari section bears the distinct stamp of bold zari embroidery which is very often restricted to the border or hemline. Pallavi’s mens’wear line for 91-92 is extremely subtle. She plays with tonal embroidery hat is lavishly sprinkled on off-white kurtas or jodhpuris. Pallavi’s garments range from Rs.600/- in the sheerest of fabrics like mul, tissue, organza chanderi and brocade. Besides high fashion garments Pallavi has created ranges of designer household linen at Repertoire. The exquisitely quilted bedspreads in pastels with touches of gold are fit for a queen. There are dainty and towels too. “Household linen of the designer kind is very popular in India since people entertain at home. Each piece of designer linen is individually created in limited numbers. The range includes brocade quilts, towel sets, napkins, table mats, cushion covers and toilet accessories.

Here the prices range from as low as Rs. 75/- to 6500/- for a brocade quilt.” A simple towel or a napkin can be turned into a showpiece with just the right type of embroidery or colours”, adds Pallavi.

Inheriting her mother’s creative talents Bhairavi, who trained at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angles after completing a textile designing course at the Sophia Polytechnic in Bombay, prefers to create the total haute couture western look for her garments. Bhairavi’s clothes are very sophisticated but could be termed the exact opposite of her mother’s. While Pallavi’s creations hide the woman they adorn, Bhairavi’s clothes are strategically revealing. “My clothes are definitely more body conscious and display the feminity of a woman. There is a lot of stretch material that I favour which is ideal for the look I am trying to achieve”, she explains. As far as the colour base is concerned black heads the list. “There has to be basic black in my garments. Followed by deep tones of burgundy, wine, maroon. Gold is never used by me in all its glittering splendour but more in its tarnished, burnished form.”

Bhairavi admits that her creations have a limited audience but each season she creates two separate lines. One the figure hugging one and the other for the slightly older woman who is more sober in her tastes. But at fashion shows and for fashion spreads in magazines Bhairavi always promotes the body conscious look. Each season she presens 15-20 styles and then, takes orders as per the clients’ measurements. Bhairavi’s jacket’s retail for Rs. 1500/- to 4500/- and the outfits for Rs.4500/- to 6000/-. Exporting to Paris and Europe, Bhairavi’s line is very popular with boutiques and high fashion houses.

For her first line for Glitterati two years ago, Bhairavi presented a frothy black range with ribbons, rosettes and flounces. She followed it up with palazzos and then the ornate mini suits. Her last two collections have revolved around stretch fabric which has been glamourized with embroidery and sequins for trousers and tops. There is a lot of razzle dazzle accompanies by shorts and halters, all presenting the total western disco night look.

Besides supplying to Glitterati in Bombay and Delhi, Bhairavi also sells at Folio in Bangalore. Future plans include the opening of an inexpensive casual wear store ‘Pret-a-Porte’ exclusively retailing Bhairavi’s line. While not designing for the local market the mother and daughter duo are busy creating hundreds of samples for different seasons for the export market. Producing a 100 pieces of high fashion garment in just six to seven days is now routine for them. Inspiration for Pallavi could be a tile or a Chinese plate or just the fabric or even something on the wayside.

While Bhairavi sticks to accepted western fashion norms that could be termed as good fashion sense, Pallavi, who could be termed as a pioneer in the designing business, has watched the evolution of Indian fashion for over two decades and the growth of the designer label culture.

“A designer label is a status symbol. Though the concept of designer wear will last, how many designers will remain in the final analysis remains to be seen.” Both feel that it is easy for trained designers to enter the field but for bored housewives and daughters who are out to make a quick buck, the question of survival will be doubtful. “Within about two years this ‘gate crashing’ into the fashion business will taper off”, Pallavi predicts.

The mother and daughter designing team of Pallavi and Bhairavi Jaikishan complement each other perfectly in their creation of garments as they run a flourishing business that offers the best in high fashion wear.