“I would love to dress Rekha”: Designer Leena Singh

Designer Leena Singh of Ashima-Leena label’s latest ‘Nazm-e-Mahal’ collection beautifully tells the story of the life of a Maharani, steeped in opulence and royalty, but “steeped in simplicity”.

Featured at India Couture Week 2021, the collection is a combination of “delicate hand embroidery with meticulously woven textiles with classic royal silhouettes worn by the Maharanis in the Mughal era.”

“Through our interpretation, the brand aspires to reflect a poetic flow of volume, layers and impeccable garment construction that characterizes the unique beauty of ‘Nazm-e-Mahal’,” said the fashion designer.

In an email interaction with indianexpress.com, Leena Singh talks about the creations, the pandemic, and who, according to her, wears the best of their creations. Excerpts:

What was your inspiration for this collection and how different was the design experience in the midst of the pandemic?

We have been working with artisans and weavers for three decades. As such, the brand has developed its couture collection, season after season, reflecting the heritage of India through fashion. Ashima-Leena has a rich design heritage derived from palace royalty, which is also our brand’s philosophy. Therefore, inspiration also came naturally from the same.

The pandemic design experience was really no different except that the safety of our team members and workers was of the highest priority, and therefore a strict protocol was followed during the design and operation. execution of the collection.

The pandemic has had a huge impact on the fashion industry – how has it affected you personally and professionally?

The pandemic came as a great teacher, but luckily being grounded and humble has always been rooted in me. The winds of fashion have never changed me as a person and I have never lost myself in the glitz and glamor of the industry.

Professionally, yes, the industry has been hit very hard and our studio and our store have also been closed for so many months. Weddings and events were called off, so it was only natural that a business like ours would be affected as the fashion industry thrives on weddings. Also, it would not be wrong to say that luxury brands have been hit hardest by the pandemic.

Virtual fashion shows have also become important over the past two years; what do you think of them vis-à-vis physical performances?

Although tailoring was the most experienced on the ramp, I guess there was no other option to reach the public and our customers. Virtual presentation was therefore the only way to bridge this gap.

Sustainable fashion has also taken center stage; What’s your take on sustainability and how easy is it to achieve?

Durability was the highlight of the Ashima-Leena collection. The most interesting thing about Nazm-e-Mahal is that it is created from a collection of old antique brocade saris from the wardrobes of Maharanis in the palaces of Rajasthan. They were then restored by my weavers with the warp and weft in real gold and silver. The magic created by restoration techniques is truly amazing and remains the best example of sustainability.

The colors of these sarees are subdued pastel in the lightest turquoise, light peach and light pink; the brightest ones in purple thrown to create this magical effect.

Many celebrities have worn your designs, but who do you think wears them the best?

Our designs are best worn by women who embody timeless beauty and elegance, such as Sharmila Tagore, Rekha and Shabana Azmi.

The only celebrity you really want to design for, and why?

I would love to dress Rekha. She would look beautiful in our sarees.

The only good and bad thing about the impact of the pandemic on the fashion industry?

The bad thing about a pandemic is that it has affected our businesses economically; the good thing is that despite all the difficulties, the industry still remains big and strong.

How important are shows? Have you ever felt like having a celebrity takes the limelight away from creations?

We, as a brand, have never felt the need to improve our collection through showstoppers. For me, my collection has always been in the spotlight and each outfit is a star in itself.

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