Rajinikath's Pettai to Hip Hop Thamizha's Natpe Thunai, here's how this Chennai designer is making a mark in Kollywood
Alternating between designing for herself and for cinema is 24-year-old costume designer Preethi Narayanan, whose core aesthetics are all inspired by a Japanese designer named Rei Kawakubo. However, its designing for the big screen that she feels is her actual calling. After doing her diploma at NIFD Chennai, she had a chance meeting with Agni Productions, which is director Sundar C’s production house. She soon became a costume designer for Natpe Thunai, a sports film about a hockey player who comes back to the field after a hiatus.
“It was a call that I got out of the blue,” says Preethi, when asked about the opportunity. “I just dropped in, showed my profile and the next day they called me in. They were on the lookout for new designers and I guess I fitted the bill.” The production team gave Preethi a moodboard, around which she designed the outfits. Primarily designing just for the leads Adhi (popularly known as Hip Hop Thamizha), and Anagha, Preethi focused on athleisure ensembles that had a bit of spunk and colour in them. “I sourced some clothes from designers and online stores, but there’s also a chunk of clothes that I designed from scratch,” says Preethi, who has a team of tailors that she works with. The young designer went about making 20 pieces for Aadhi in jerseys, T-shirts, headbands and pants and about 10-15 pieces for Anagha, mostly athleisure pieces like track pants and T-shirts. “All the designs were put together in Chennai only, and fabrics too were sourced in the city itself.”
Before starting a career in cinema, Preethi launched a micro collection called Perfect Imperfections in 2018, where she worked with linen to create six pieces in playsuits and kurtis. Her design style, independent of designing for movies, is all about being abstract. “I am heavily inspired by Rei Kawakubo, who works with deconstructed silhouettes. So this edit had Indigo throughout, with cross stitches, uneven lengths on pants, different coloured — patches that resemble a mosaic, and had pocket embroidery as well,” states the designer.
With an online store launch in the pipeline, Preethi is gearing up for her next project under the Agni banner with Aishwarya Menon and Adhi. A Dhanush movie, she says, is in the works as well. “I started out as an assistant designer for Sanda Kozhi 2 in 2018, and then assisted in Rajnikanth-starrer Pettai. Natpe Thunai is my first movie where I am taking care of costumes completely, so this is definitely special.”