new name but not a newcomer. Pawan Aswani is a designer who creates
for women who are not afraid to mix colours and patterns
clothes evoke a personal charm and a variety of moods.
designer is generally known for the characteristic touches that he
adds to his garments and haute couture designer, Pawan Aswani is
known for his flamboyant use of embroidery which embellishes many of
Aswanis journey into the fashion world was less direct. In
fact, the designer never dreamt of pursuing the career of a haute
couture ladies wear creator till he decided not to be come a doctor.
And he has never been able to figure out what made him change his
mind at the last minute when he was about to enter medical college.
But that is all in the past. In 1988 he graduated from the
International Academy of Merchandising and Design Ltd. In Chicago,
alma mater is not a familiar name for Indians in the fashion world.
I was the only Indian student and selected this college over
the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, because it has a more
intensive approach to construction of garments and a technical
feedback in textiles. A designer must be able to construct a good
garment he wants to design. Out of the graduates of 1988
Aswani was one of the two students who finished as a couture
graduate. His graduation collection took him four months to create
during which time, Aswani designed, stitched and finished every
outfit himself. So grueling was the course that Aswani was one of
the nine students left out of the 100 who started with him in 1986.
It is a really tough course but thorough. We had to create and
weave fabrics, paint designs and patterns, tailor, present a
complete portfolio (for which he got an A+) and of course produce
the graduation collection.
designer, Aswani has always been rather low-key, concentrating on the
export of high fashion garments to the USA and Hong Kong. I
have a very personalized relationship with my clients abroad. They
can order on the phone and I know exactly what they require. I am
aware of my clients as people and also their tastes. I know exactly
what colours and what styles they like or dislike. Aswani
admits he is a couture designer. I am trained to do
collections with one of a kind pieces. I also do a higher pret
or ready-to-wear line. But my clothes are very mood oriented.
designer Aswani can be considered to be quite consistent. My
evening wear should be embellished and coordinated to look feminine.
There may not be a shape change to a garment but embroidery plays a
major role. Even if a garment is revealing a client must feel
comfortable in it. Therefore embellishments are Aswanis
vital emphasis. He may have unconventional touches like a many
layered kota organza outfit that is quite unlined but has embroidery
at strategic points. Or there may be heavy sequined embroidery all
around the garment with just the side panels left untouched. A
revealing lace blouse may be heavily encrusted with embroidery to
create the illusion of a brocade or zardozi effect. There is a lot
of opulence and flamboyance in whatever Aswani creates.
and shapes are very flexible. They could be structured or easy
depending on the mood that strikes the designer. For Indian wear
Aswani allows his imagination to really go wild He makes an impact
with western styling modified to suit Indian needs. Varying the
length of the kameeze from calf-length to knee-length gives him the
required creative liberty to produce garments for all seasons. A
shape for Aswani is not seasonal. I am very free with my
concepts. If required I will make my skirts mini of maxis. What is
important is the overall look and how comfortable and elegant my
client looks and feels. In many cases Aswani is even aware of
the exact colour preferences of his customers. Sub-consciously,
Aswani is season oriented. I tend to use deeper colour for fall
and winter and brighter colours for spring and summer.
first attempt at creating stylized garments for the Indian woman
began with his Surya collection at the newly opened
Eternia. Creating garments for the domestic market can be
tricky and the right atmosphere is needed to display my creations.
Eternia in Bombay falls into the correct buyer image for Aswani.
His ethnic line of salwar-kameezes may have traditional
touches, but the overall construction is western, he
ethnic wear dupattas are my weakness. They always end up
being the focal point of the ensemble and I love embellishing them.
The kameeze could take a rear seat at times.
approach to embroidery embellishments are quite revolutionary. I
am more into European embellishments and when I use embroidery it is
not the run of the mill type. It is way out with various
permutations and combinations. He is inspired by fabrics with
structure-crepes, silks, taffetas, suiting silk, chiffons,
georgettes. Cottons, too, excite him but it has to be good
quality cotton. As an artist Aswani is very good. His
unconventional illustrations have won him accolades in his college.
Pawan Aswani high fashion garment retails for anything above Rs.
3500/- and can go up to Rs. 1,50,000/- or a wedding dress. My
favourite colours are black and white and I like to mix and match as
often as possible.
is of course a part of the Aswani psyche. He can create a haute
couture creation in just three days though for his designer wifes
(she is a graduate of FIT, New York) wedding gown dreamt up by him he
took the longest ever- two and a half months. I wanted it to
be the best thing I had ever created.
idols are the Japanese line-up designers like Issey Miyake, Miyake,
Matsuda etc. It is their sense of structure and pleating that
fascinates me. From the western world it is Christian Lacroix
and Emanuel Ungaor who thrill him.
to other Indian designers who are very publicity conscious Aswanis
very modest image is a sharp contrast. Publicity no doubt is
important for a designer in promotion his line but I felt I was not
ready for it. When it returned from the USA and till 1991 my styles
had been for the western buyers only.
who also freelanced for Anja San, the high fashion mens shop
in Bombay has noticed the evolution of fashion since 1988 when he
returned to India. No doubt the Indian woman has become more
fashion conscious today but that is surprising is that the Indian
male is also keeping pace with her and generally everybody has become
more designer label conscious. His export of garments to the US and
Far East covers diverse markets.
obviously prefers designing haute couture garments but is quite
excited about giving pret-a-porter a try as he admits,
as long as the garment has creativity and style I am happy.
Aswani is no ordinary designer. He may fight shy of publicity but
his garments definitely invite a second look with their very