A visionary right from the beginning; she saw the need for light, comfortable, yet occasion-worthy garments. Unlike the heavily embroidered lehengas she was used to seeing brides struggle in; her designs are instead adorned with mesmerising botanical prints which have come to be a signature of the brand. Join us in a conversation with the creative genius behind brand Paulmi And Harsh. Bright-eyed and effervescent Paulmi Dhawan shares with us her inspirations behind her latest collection, passions and future plans for the brand.
You were born and brought up in Mount Abu Rajasthan, A picturesque hill station. How much of your hometown finds its way into your creations?
Everything actually. So, I was born in the hills, the pahads. Nature has been a huge part of the inspiration for me. Even the colours are derived from it. In my school I was in the nature club, we would study the birds, botanical flowers, trees... so, you will see this reflected in all my prints. They are hand drawn, scanned and then finally made into a print. It is not just because florals are trending. Florals have been around forever but these prints act as a remembrance of the past.
Tell us more about your collection Kanan. Does nature hold any special significance to you?
Absolutely, nature is one to keep giving. Why do people live such a slow and beautiful life in the mountains or by the sea. Because nature heals people and that is exactly what Kanan is about. Even with Sabr you’ll notice there is a lot of spirituality in our collection. Sabr means patience and I think today’s world is really lacking it. And if we talk about Kanan... Yes, the collection is inspired by the forests. The calmness of the forest, the peacefulness, the little sounds of birds and the river flowing. Going to Ranthambore was very inspiring. That’s when it came to me, let’s do forests this time... We used everything, from the tiger as the motif, to the trees and the smallest shrubs. It had definitely been an inspiring visit.
Are there any sustainability goals that Paulmi and Harsh look to achieve in the coming years?
It’s all about slow fashion, not trends that come and go. Creating garments that you can use in multiple ways is important to us. We are even doing blogger collaborations that showcase this. Plus, the materials used are natural fabrics. Some pieces are bold statement pieces to be worn only once. However, you can always restyle our pieces, which are very versatile. That is how we are moving towards slow fashion and a zero-waste plan.
What does luxury mean to you as an Indian designer?
Luxury to me does not mean a hefty price tag. I always call the brand as affordable luxury and for me it is all about being able to wear the pieces over and over. Taking it more towards the classic side. We aim to show the versatility of traditional Indian clothes as occasion wear.
You have previously made custom pieces for children; will we ever see a Paulmi and Harsh pret kidswear collection?
As a matter of fact, we have had a lot of mothers asking because they wanted to twin with their kids. So, we have already started on that. We also recently had a fashion show with kids. And because our brand always had lightweight lehengas, where there is just embroidery on the print, it was so easy for the kids to carry it. I am a mother myself, so I know if it’s not comfortable for the kid, they don’t really care for how they look. That’s a very beautiful thing about a child. So, if its light and comfortable, the kids are going to wear it. And especially what I saw with the small girls is that they really enjoyed twirling in our lehengas. Their joy is a reward in itself.
What is a fashion trend you’re looking to see in the coming year?
For me personally it’s never about trends. It has got more to do with what I like. I will not wear something just because it’s trending. But I feel that now people will be moving more towards solid colours because the market is saturated with prints. Even for Paulmi and Harsh though being a print-based brand, we are also going to be making more solids. Plus, I think that comfort with luxury is going to be significant.
Nowadays consumers are not buying just for the sake of buying. They have a value for the piece, why they are buying it, why do they believe in the brand. It all matters. Its more about the story than just the outfit. So, I think consciousness is going to be a big trend.
Would you be open to collaborating with other artists, creators, or designers?
Yes, absolutely! It’s all about collaboration right now. We are living in the world of collaboration. It’s never one person doing anything. I cannot even take the credit for Paulmi and Harsh, I have a great team. I would love to collaborate with designers in footwear, jewellery... someday even design jewellery myself. I am also open to working with some of the clothing brands that have the same aesthetics and creating a line together.
Yes, there is no doubt your creations are works of art, but we cannot help but admire the creativity in capturing them as well. The photoshoots are masterpieces in themselves. How do you conceptualize a shoot?
One of the biggest things I enjoy in the brand are the photoshoots. It is something I’ve always enjoyed. In fact, when I am making a garment, I am always thinking about how to shoot it. I have worked with some beautiful stylists who know precisely what I’m thinking about; how I am visualising the garment. For me it’s about how the consumer takes on the garment. So, women get an idea of how they’re going to wear it, because with online shopping they are not going to put it on themselves. This is especially important for our foreign clients. So, a good shoot makes all the difference.
As a designer how do you keep the spark of creativity alive?
So, I am not a very social person. What takes up most of my head space is meditation and designing. These are the two things that always keep me interested. I really appreciate seeing new pieces even if it is someone else’s creation. I can’t help but think ‘Wow how beautiful! How has this person done it!?’ Gigi Hadid just wore a spray-painted garment. It excited me to another level! I What technology! Fashion and textiles have always excited me and continue to do so. When we go to a clothes factory or a textiles factory, I become a kid all over again. I will never bore of it.
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