The city needs a lesson in anti-fit — clothing without shape that’s different from oversized numbers. Label Ishana, which launched at The India Story last October, sure knows a thing or two about it. t2 caught up with designer Ishana Rai Sethia over cups of green tea and sinful French fries at Cafe Sienna...
Where does Label Ishana draw inspiration from?
I think I fell into fashion design by accident but always knew I’d do something by myself. My designs were born out of observing people and what they wore, over days at places like the Maidan and here at Sienna. Also at airports with people from all over the world with different definitions of casual style.
What does one see in the lookbook?
I’ve done 11 styles, with five colour options and I’ve mostly used hand-woven linen, silk and cotton khadi. My entire focus is on the fabric and silhouette, and that has to stand out and be up to the mark. The clothes are for girls who need something bold yet functional and fuss-free to take them from one engagement to another. And they’re all anti-fit.
Anti-fit is still at its nascent stage in Calcutta...
Purely by definition, anti-fit is an outfit with no shape and an emphasis on fabric and comfort. But because I don’t want to shock anybody, the clothes aren’t absolutely shapeless, you can still equate them with a silhouette.
So introducing it within tailored boundaries is a starting point?
It pushes the boundaries a little. A lot of people at The India Story said, ‘Yeh bahut bada hai’, but I suggested they wear it a couple of times and then take a call. Or wear the a dress like a kurta, though I’ve not intended it to be one. It’s an educational process. So I’m not doing alterations because the clothes are supposed to look a particular way. Everything on the racks is between US sizes 4 and 10.
Also, the clothes look very summery in light colours...
Because training teaches one to do darker hues in winter. I’ve had no training in fashion, so there weren’t any rules I was following. A light colour is going to make you stand out. And that was the whole point of my collection.
What is the easiest and toughest bit about the start?
The hardest part is standing out among many new talented people. That is why I am focused on the feel-good factor of the brand. It was easy getting the correct exposure to enter the industry via The India Story.
- She’s lived in Delhi, Sydney, Switzerland, London, Washington DC, New York and Hong Kong before making Calcutta her home.
- She draws style inspiration from her mother who “never followed any trends” and thinks Anamika Khanna, Indrani Dasgupta and Abhilasha Sethia are the most fashionable Calcutta women.
- The most stylish places in Calcutta are Cafe Sienna, the Dev R Nil store in Mominpore, Bodega Cantina-Y-Bar and Monkey Bar.
- She describes her style as “edgy-classic”. Think Audrey Hepburn meets Olivia Palermo.