In Love With Tradition-Dasari Parvathi

Born and brought up in Hyderabad and now a resident of Chennai, Dasari Parvathi is a fashion designer whose garments are synonymous with Indian tradition. Although she’s always had a passion for fashion, she only began to pursue it as a career two years ago, when she launched her eponymous label, Parvathi. Her collection is everything that a modern woman with deep Indian roots would wish for. This week, You & I caught up with this talented designer to find out about her mesmerising collection.  

Tell us about your label and what it’s all about.
My label specialises in pattu, zari, and silk sarees. It’s mainly a silk saree weaving and manufacturing unit, based in Chennai. We create traditional handloom sarees, often with intricate embroidery, in varied colours. From lehengas and half sarees to contemporary lehengas with crop tops and various kinds of sarees, we customise everything according to the client’s taste and preferences. No design or style is ever recreated; each piece is unique and exclusive.

We handle bulk orders for weddings and design for every occasion, right from the engagement and mehendi to the sangeet, wedding and reception. I don’t share pictures with anyone. In fact, my studio doesn’t have any sample garments. I have a template of designs and based on the client’s taste, I provide them with designs and then give them a colour palette to choose from.

What is your USP?
Through my label I’m trying to bring back the old traditional weaves and handlooms. Each of my pieces is unique; no two pieces are similar. My garments are lightweight and can be carried off by anyone with ease. While it usually takes up to half an hour to tie a saree, my sarees are easy to wear and can be worn in just five minutes. Each saree has a length of 6 ½ metres.
Many women don’t like wearing silk sarees because they feel it makes them look broad and hefty. But my sarees are very flowy and fall as well as a georgette saree. It’s also easy to carry when you travel. Unlike most silk sarees, it doesn’t occupy much space and can fit easily in any handbag.

Where do you draw your inspiration?
From my parents who’re so traditional in their mannerisms and from the Tamil Nadu culture. In this day and age when everyone wears contemporary clothes, the residents of Tamil Nadu, however modern they are, opt for traditional sarees when it comes to a formal occasion. I love that about Tamilians; they’re deep rooted in tradition.

How do you display your work?
Although I have a store in Chennai, I don’t show any samples to customers. I simply show them the template of designs and colour palette, and design something unique for each of them. After talking to the customer, I sketch some sample designs in front of them, and based on that I design the entire outfit. Each silk saree takes about a month to weave, and for bridal orders I usually require two to three months’ time.

Who does your clientele consist of?
I have a huge clientele in the US, several celebrities in Tamil Nadu as well as Andhra Pradesh, and several orthodox brides. I also often style celebrities for appearances and personal functions, but haven’t yet designed for a movie.

What colour palette do you usually use?
I have close to 560 silk thread colours. I show the customer the colours palette and they choose from that. I want to change the norm that silk sarees are only worn in dark colours like blue, green, red, pink, etc. These sarees look gorgeous in pastel hues too!

What made you get into this field?
Fashion design was always my calling, but I never thought I’d get into this traditional field. After marrying a Tamilian and moving to Chennai, I fell in love with the culture of this state and the people’s sensibilities. So I decided to start this to revive the traditional element.

What about your personal style?
Although my label is a confluence of traditional weaves with fusion cuts, my personal style is very traditional. I’m most comfortable wearing handloom and cotton sarees.

What do you do in your free time?
Whenever I get free time I like to spend it with my sons, Pretham and Pretvan. We play together and go out for movies or picnics. I’m in bliss when I’m at home with my family.

What keeps you motivated to keep going?
My family supports me in everything I do, and they’re truly responsible for my success. They push me to follow my heart and pursue my desire.                 --- as told to Niharika