Vasundhara Mantri talks with You & I
What made you choose jewellery design?
I was studying business in Kolkata when I realised I was cut out for something more creative. I studied the basic principles of design and colour theory at American InterContinental University in London, and received training at the Gemological Institute of America in New York. Once I came back to Kolkata after completing my courses, I learnt how to make jewellery from local karigars. I’ve always felt that practical knowledge is needed more than anything else, so I went to the workshops to learn how to mould metal. Now that I know the different techniques, it makes designing a new collection much simpler.
Tell us about your collections.
We have two distinct lines. The first is for the traditional look, and we use Polki and Kundan semi-precious stones combined with Meenakari work or pearls to give it that ethnic touch. This traditional collection is called ‘Yagyaseni’ and uses jewels that emphasise the power of integrity, as well as metal and pearl meshes in various styles. The funkier, more contemporary line is for women who like to experiment with textures, stones, materials and shapes. For this collection, we’ve worked on pieces intended for different parts of the body: body chains, leg chains, hand meshes, ear cuffs, hand harnesses, jewelled veils, belts and headpieces.
Do these differ from country to country?
Since I retail my jewellery around the world, my collections do have to vary. Each market has its own specifications, and I have to design according to people’s tastes. Designs for markets in the West are a lot jazzier, whereas Asian countries require me to create something more understated and delicate.
Where does your inspiration come from?
It could be absolutely anything! Creativity can’t be restricted, so I draw influences from things like nature, mythology, and scenes from daily life. Inspiration can come from anywhere; it’s just about striking the right chord.
What about your e-commerce presence?
We are in the process of constructing a website, which should be up and running by next month. At the moment, we supply our products to major online portals such as Pernia’s Pop-up Shop, Amazon and Indian Hanger.
Who are you targeting with your work?
Anyone who appreciates art and creativity, and who has a distinct sense of style. I don’t want to restrict myself or my products, so I try to reach out to everybody. We offer jewellery that can be worn to parties, weddings, the beach, or for casual outings. My jewellery is very popular with women ages 25-50, but the wearer has to be stylish to carry it off.
How does it feel to be the choice of many celebrities around the world?
It’s satisfying. These are the people who set the standards of style in their countries, and it’s after seeing these popular figures wearing bold jewellery that the trends change.
What is your personal style like?
I love to accessorise! I guess it’s difficult to create something without loving what you do. What I like to do is use one statement piece so that it stands out and the attention isn’t divided. Whether it’s a bold necklace or earrings, I wear it with a simple and understated silhouette.
Tell us more about yourself.
Apart from work, my passion is music. I’ve been training in Indian classical music for a long time, I’m in the process of recording some music, and the background music for my Lakmé Fashion Week show was in fact self-composed. I also teach singing through non-profit organisations. Fitness is another passion of mine. I try to maintain a strict regimen of training every day.
..... as told to Niharika