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Fashion designer Pallavi Puri at her shop in Dubai. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Indian fashion designer Pallavi Puri recently launched her luxury atelier in Dubai, bringing with her a variety of outfits that she says can suit any type of person — whether it’s a bride looking for a statement piece or a woman looking for something more subdued.

The designer is the picture of grace as she speaks to Gulf News at her store at Onyx Tower 1 in The Greens, and explains her vision and approach to designing clothes.

“I approach [customers] in a very approachable manner... it’s not that I’ll give you one outfit and say ‘okay, done’. No, I will make you try a few,” she said. “I know what will suit your body 100 per cent because that’s my thing, because that’s my strength. But at the same time, when I give you something to try, I understand maybe the sleeves need a little tweaking, maybe the neckline needs to be changed. So that’s [what’s] my speciality is — atelier. That’s where it’s all about.”

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Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Her light-filled store is a testament to this personalisation — it’s filled with a mix of designs from colourful and richly embroidered lehengas (traditional Indian skirts) to simple pastel kaftans.

Here’s what Puri, who started her career in 1998 in New Delhi, has to say about being inspired, her Emirati collection and her advice for budding designers...

Her background in fashion design...

As a child I was always inclined towards clothes and fashion... You used to get these little scrapbooks where you can take out little cutouts and place it on dolls — mix and match the shoes, bags, dresses and collars. Even when I used to be sick I remember my mother getting me these books... I always had a dream that I’ll have a store.

Studying at the prestigious National Institute of Fashion Technology...

It was a little challenging because I was staying on my own... [but] I am a friendly person by nature and I [had] a lot of friends and it was very nice... It was a beautiful journey, learning, adventure — not only about clothes, but also about life. So when you learn about life there is somewhere psychologically that you put that kind of thing in your clothes. It’s a reflection. It’s a reflection of your personality, your moods, everything.

Her design inspirations...

For me, it’s not about designs, it’s about a person. It’s about how you dress up a person... how you can make them look beautiful in their own beautiful way. Every person is beautiful the way they are. It’s not only about body, it’s about mind also.

So it’s about in being in sync with a person. If you meet me, the way I will design for you is first I’ll speak with you, I’ll understand your likes, dislikes. Then I will make something which you are comfortable in, which will suit you, which you are confident about. Because at times what happens is people are confused, they don’t know what to wear and they need a little guidance. So for me, that’s where I come in.

Designing her Emirati clothing line...

Last April was when I launched my Emirati collection. It was a very, very challenging and new experience. I loved it. Every bit of that journey was so amazing. Every client was so different from the other. Because you know, the way [Arab] women... the way they wear their clothes is a total contrast. You’d be surprised how an Al Ain woman is different to Abu Dhabi to Dubai to a Saudi [woman]... everything is quite different. Al Ain women are more conservative... they prefer more traditional styles. On the other hand, Abu Dhabi [Emirati women] prefer the colour black [with] different cuts, which are more flowy. It may come as a surprise but Saudi women are a lot more modern and prefer experimenting with styles. Their cuts are very glam — as long as it is modest and respectful to the laws of the Kingdom.

What sets Arab designs and Indian designs apart...

As far as Indians are concerned, they are very vibrant. Plus, for us, it’s about festivities. Every colour has a significance — like red is a colour of festivity. Haldi [turmeric yellow] is a colour of auspiciousness. So every colour has a significance in Indian garment. As far as the Emirati line is concerned, it’s more to do with heat, more to do with the vision, more to do with the flowy-ness.

On her Bollywood celebrity encounters...

I have dressed up Madhuri Dixit, Karisma Kapoor, Radhika Apte and there are few more.

On her most memorable moment...

When I was in college, that was one of my most memorable experience... we had Bipasha Basu [attending a show]. In that time when I was in college, she was one of the hottest things that was happening. And I was very, very impressed with her — not because of how popular she was but for the simplicity. For me, a person speaks from their simplicity because I am a very simple person at heart... for me simplicity is what catches attraction, what makes one speak for themselves. You have to look through.

Which Bollywood star she’d love to dress...

I would love to dress Deepika Padukone. She’s flawless... she’s effortless. You can make her wear anything and it will look good on her. So yeah, it’s a no brainer.

Whose style she admires...

Style wise, it’s a tough one... I love Victoria Beckham and I love Queen Rania [of Jordan]. She’s classy, elegant and classy. That’s what my work is about. I’m experimental, but to a limit.

Advice for other fashion designers...

Be you. Don’t copy and paste. Make your own signature, work on your strengths. And for today’s day and age, I feel PR is more important than anything. I feel PR is the [thing] that can make you or break you... I feel it in today’s day and age is all about image. It’s all about perception.

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Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

On whether there is pressure to keep up with trends...

No, there is no pressure. I never follow the trends. I feel it’s a gift... It’s just the vibes that I get or my vision... you don’t have to tell me [about trends] it just happens. I see what’s there in trends, but I do my own designs. That’s why my pieces are timeless.

I get calls from my clients after 20 years saying ‘we took out the piece now after so many years and again we got compliments.’ That is the feeling of being complete... it’s not only about money, it’s about satisfaction.

Her brand in three words...

Elegant. Classic. Timeless.

Pallavi Puri’s festive style trends...

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Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

- Gold is always seen as a festive colour but too much of it can make the dress look gaudy. Use it in super-sharp silhouettes.

- Chiffon and silk fabrics are in season as it offers a delicate and sensual feel especially in this weather.

- When going for nude or neutral colour palettes, use less volume and delicate embroidery or embellishments that gives an elegant, versatile, modern and festive look.

- For a bold look, fuchsia pink with slight embroidery is making a comeback offering a playful look.

- Minimalism with either large jewellery and small embroidered or beaded clutch helps bring out the whole ensemble and offers a perfect evening wear to any occasion.

- Try out angular silhouettes and intricate beading.

- Flowy gowns with longer straight or wide sleeves or kaftans with mid-level necklines are great go-to options if you are looking for a fashionable yet modest look. It is versatile and better paired with your favourite open flats or open high heels .

- Long statement coats on neutral coloured dresses and wide-leg pants are making a trend for a more royal look.

- Pair two looks, textures or hues. For example using a neutral dress with a tulle coat or jacket to give a more arty edge.