Pankaj and Nidhi Are This Year’s Designer Duo To Watch
Lakme Fashion Week begins this Friday, August 3 and two names you will be hearing a lot of over the next seven days are Pankaj and Nidhi. This husband-and-wife duo, whose six-year-old label is available in 20 stores across India including one in Mumbai at D7 in Khar, is the surprise choice for the coveted LFW finale. The finale, which will also feature Kallol Datta, will complete something of a hat trick for the duo, who recently won the International Woolmark Prize India award, and is also among the five finalists for the Vogue India Fashion Fund. This year seems to be the “tipping point” for Pankaj and Nidhi, the one where they finally join the big league. We spoke to the pair about working together, Bollywood and their plans for the finale. Edited excerpts:
How does it feel to be doing the LFW finale in a few days, especially since the last one was done by Rohit Bal, whom you both have worked for before?
Pankaj: It is quite a big thing. But, I do not feel comparisons are fair. I think doing a finale is a big deal for any designer; whether you are established or emerging, it does not matter. I think showing with Kallol [Datta] will make for an interesting show as our styles are so different.
Tell us about the finale collection. Will you be showing traditional wear since it’s a Winter/Festive collection?
Nidhi: It will [have] our signature handcrafted look as well as the latticework we are known for, but in a new avatar. It will have a feel of artwork. We do not have a name for the collection [but it] is of course driven by the Lakme colour palette, which we cannot reveal yet. But it will be tonal.
Pankaj: There will be a lot of jackets. The play on jackets will be very interesting, angular, zips, asymmetrical; jackets with a long back.
Unlike most designers, you have not jumped on the Bollywood bandwagon. We do not often see Pankaj and Nidhi on the red carpet. Why is this?
Pankaj: Sonam Kapoor has picked up pieces from our store. We would love to see some of young Bollywood in our designs. Sonam, Freida Pinto, Deepika Padukone and Diana Penty [are] all women we would like to see in our label. Of course at the finale, Kareena Kapoor, the face of Lakme, will be wearing our collection.
What is it like to work together? Do you tend to bring work home?
Nidhi: The combination is what makes it work. All the artworks are hand-drawn by Pankaj—I could not imagine it any other way—and I keep things practical and wearable.
You seem to have two very diverse collections. The Indian collection has a contemporary, traditional feel and is much more commercial. Your ramp collection has a crafty couture, Western avant-garde feel. Why do you never show your Indian wear?
Pankaj: The catwalk collection is really for brand building. But yes, many people have made the same comment. We are thinking of having two labels and having a ramp show with our Indian collection. We love traditional wear. It is silly to live in India and not make Indian wear.