Clothes Fit for a Princess

When we walked into Danish designer Uffe Frank’s make-shift studio there was a lot of activity and the designer was quite busy following his success at a recent exhibition. Lot of women love his unique silk and cotton wrap dresses, and the designer was pleased with the response. Frank is alum of the Design School of Denmark and the Royal College of Art in London, and has a roster of high profile design houses that he worked for to his credit, including Giorgio Armani, Valentino and Enrico Coveri. However, the pièce de résistance in his resume is definitely the wedding dress he designed for Crown Princess Mary of Denmark. After a fruitful international career, Frank has now made India his home, and works from his studio in Auroville.

You seem like quite the globetrotter. Tell us something about yourself.
From an early stage in life I learnt to observe what makes women look and feel beautiful, because I grew up around four women – my mother and three sisters. I learnt what women like, and have taken it to a level of dressing women which I’ve now been doing for many years. I grew up in Denmark, and then went to college in London. I was always undertaking tailoring for people, and therefore have a strong sense of fitting and quality, which is now a major thing with my dresses. I am a designer but also dabble a bit in art and collages. I paint and draw faster than anybody I have ever met. Valentino once said my drawings were so chic that they should be printed in a magazine, and Giorgio Armani told me that my drawings can sell anything (laughs.) I guess you could say I am a connoisseur of beauty.

What is someone from Scandinavia doing in India?
I had been producing clothes in Auroville while living in Europe. One year when I got back to Milan after a trip to India, and spent two months in my apartment in Milan, I thought to myself that I might as well live in India since that was where it was all happening! There is so much evolution happening in the country. It is interesting since women want something newer here. I haven’t been around India a lot yet, but what I have learnt is that women are very classical in Hyderabad. For instance, more people have asked for sleeves. The women I met in India loved my cotton wrap and silk dresses.

You worked for Valentino. What was that like, and how did you transition to starting your own label?
I always wanted to move to Paris; I was offered lots of jobs but never a salary (laughs). I had left my CV at Valentino, and got to speak to his right-hand person, who had asked me to come over and said my resume looked great. I immediately got a ticket to go back to Rome and meet Valentino, and that meeting sealed the deal. I was making drawings for accessories at Valentino. I had other great stints at different design houses too. Then one day my friend asked me to decide whether I wanted to be a designer, or tailor all my life. Coming to think of it I designed well, and that’s how I started out my own label.

What was it like to dress Crown Princess Mary of Denmark?
It’s all about who you know. Someone I know in Denmark was good friends with the Crown Prince, and when Mary came from Australia, my friends said she was looking for a designer. So I met her and designed some clothes for her prior to the wedding gown. There were three or four other designers who were asked to make clothes for her, and it was ultimately decided that I would be dressing the Crown Princess.

You seem quite the natural in India, how do you like it?
(Laughs) Oh, I love India and I would love to know everything about Indian women. I’ve always had an Indian connection, since my best friend in college in Denmark was an Indian woman who would buy fabrics and everything else in India. There is something that binds me to India from another life. It’s a beautiful connection between the country and me.

What fascinates you most about India?
People here have big smiles, and India has the most beautiful kids in the world.            – as told to Suneela