Always Reinventing

Charu Parashar

When it comes to deciding on one’s career, it’s rare for that realisation to manifest at a very young age. However, that was exactly the case for New Delhi-based designer Charu Parashar, whose interest in the creative path of fashion developed at an early stage. Today, more than two decades after she first set out in this field, this cheerful designer continues to learn, grow, reinvent and present her version of Indian attire to the world. It’s a healthy mix of modern, traditional and empowering outfits.

When did you begin your career in the fashion industry?
Technically, I started my career in fashion right after college. I began by supplying to two - three stores initially, and then I joined the Wills Lifestyle Fashion Week. Having been with them for a few seasons, my career became full-fledged. Before we knew it, the label was pan-India. Gradually, we got a lot of international buyers, and there has been no looking back since.

What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned as a designer so far?
Never take yourself or your collections for granted. Reinvent yourself in the process because it is a very competitive industry and it changes every season. Today, we aren’t just designers. We’ve become business people, management experts, and we learn a lot more through the journey. It’s not just about making your collection; it’s about selling, branding and marketing it as well, which is a totally different ballgame.

What are your design inspirations and which designers do you look up to?
I get a lot of my inspiration by travelling. I make it a point to travel every three to four months and try to see a new place. Moreover, India inspires me all the time. It’s like reinventing your traditions, making them modern and still giving it all an Indian touch. That’s what always reflects in my collection. In terms of designers, I love the works of Rohit Bal, and Ritu Kumar in India. Internationally, I love Ellie Saab, Zuhair Murad and Tom Ford. These are the individuals that have changed the way designers are perceived today.

What clothes should we invest in this season?
Invest in clothes that can be used in a variety of ways. Get a designer item that can be worn with pants and a saree. Opt for functionality and outfits that have a festive look, rather than adding over-embellished clothes to your wardrobe.

How would you guide a novice seeking to try out designer wear?
The silhouette is very important and how it suits your body is equally vital. Invest in a cut that makes you look taller and more slender. Plus, the colour makes a lot of difference too.

What’s the biggest style mistake people tend to make?
I see it happen all the time when women get clothes that happen to just look good on the hanger. They forget that it’s about what looks good on their own bodies. I’ve seen women wear garments that are not meant for their body type. But they’ll wear them anyway because they’re on trend and they wish to emulate those who are wearing them. That’s something I would like to change.

If you had just five minutes to get dressed, what’s the look you would put together?
For Indian wear, I would opt for a bindi, a plain long anarkali with long sleeves and that’s about it. It’s so understated but it would still be good to go. For Western wear I love wearing capes with trousers. If it was an embellished cape I would wear it with boots and that would make excellent evening wear.

What’s the key to looking well-dressed on a daily basis?
Clean lines. Clothes that don’t look clustered or over embellished and a good bag and shoes that stand out.

Tell us something about your upcoming projects.
We’re going to Vancouver for a bridal show next, followed by a show in Los Angeles. And starting with shirts and kurtas, I’ve been working towards a men’s line as well, which we’ll hopefully see by next year!       --- as told to Roshni