The fashion circuit does not fail to surprise us with design whizz kids who want to make an indelible impact in the industry with their motifs, techniques and creative visualisation. The impressionism of Paris pushed her creativity to greater heights, but for designer Yadvi Agarwal of Yavi, this is just the beginning. From being a debutant at the Lakme Fashion Week 2018 to dressing up British fashion critic Suzy Menkes, she champions the slow process and wants to enhance her design sensibilities along with the urge to embrace green fashion, one step at a time. We speak to the high spirited designer who is one artist, the fashion world should look out for. Edited excerpts...

How did the journey of fashion designing begin for you?

Since an early age all things creative have had a special place in my heart. Growing up around textiles and making decisions of decor, curtains and fabrics for my clothes at an early age kept me pleasantly engaged in all things textile. As I dwelled further into the realm of design I realised it was indeed my true calling.

I have worked with labels like Péro, where I developed their beadwork language and Eka, that gave me hands on experience with the design process and an insight into the fashion industry. However all my creative needs were still not satisfied and the urge to having my own label kept coaxing me to take a step.

That was the beginning of Yavi. In 2016, I made a small collection of textile jewellery and hand painted jackets that were exhibited in top fairs in Paris. This caught the eye of the discerning, and I saw myself retailing out of prestigious museums such as the Victoria and Albert Museum London, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and boutique stores across France

Your creations are synonymous with the indigenous touch in fashion designing. Take us through your inspirational board that creates such contemporary finesse.

The persona of Paris has ever so slightly left an impression on my subconscious that I find myself finding a way back to using textiles as my medium. It was in 2010, when I visited Paris and explored the city; little did I know that my experience would lay the foundation for my fashion label.

After returning back, I found myself looking for a way to create the persona on a block printer’s table. This led to the birth of the first Yavi hand painted jacket and the line of impressionist prints that followed.

Simplicity is elegance and this motto bodes well with your designs. What inspires your design process?

There is a lot of maximalism in my prints that I ease out with simple easy flowing silhouettes. I think that’s where the simplicity in Yavi’s clothes come along. Other than the pieces with heavy one thread embroidery, Yavi embroidered ensembles are simple and elegant with just one or very few strokes of embellishment. I believe the negative space is equally important in making a good design as the positive space is where the design element sits. Impressionism, sustainability and the indigenous crafts are what inspires the design process at Yavi.

Handicraft plays a major role in defining your design language. How is your label contributing towards the handicraft industry of the country?

I work with craftsmen from all over the country, be it from Bijnor to Chanderi to Kullu to Phulia to Andhra. Every season I decide on a set of crafts that are yet to be explored. We begin with moodboards; it’s interpretation and the crafts to achieve the visual quality and mood. 

I feel we are blessed to have been born in this rich country, where each state has its own set of textiles. And it is our duty to bring this to the forefront of fashion with pride. While I say, that we work with craftsmen across the country, it is also true that my brand’s aesthetic is far from traditional. We evolve the crafts to suit our contemporary aesthetic keeping the basics of the indigenous textile intact. That’s how I intend to bring innovation iN design.

Your label is an aesthetic merger of innovative fabric construction, traditional woven textiles, impressionism and sustainability every season. It is a label where art meets fashion. How are you creating a niche for yourself?

The above four keywords pretty much define us in a nutshell, but all this has come from a subconscious level. Living sustainably has been a part of my upbringing so I never imagined a world without such practices. Our rich heritage of traditional textiles was something we all knew about because of craft melas and places like dilli haat where craftsmen would congregate from the various states and bring forth their offerings. Impressionism was a subconscious take away from a trip to Paris in 2010. Creative thinking and being exposed to technology and dialogues of the same inspires innovation. So it’s almost like we are connecting the dots backward.

Chitman Kanwar Ahuja

Chitman Kanwar Ahuja is a feature writer at L'Officiel India. She is a silver jewellery hoarder and an aesthete of all arts. You can find her unraveling new stories day in and day out.