Interview: Designer Divya Reddy talks about working with prison inmates and using fashion to create awareness
When we catch up with designer Divya Reddy, she is just back from a successful show at Lotus Make-up India Fashion Week in New Delhi. With Tollywood star Rakul Preet as the showstopper, the city-based couturier used the stage to make a statement not just with her chic designs but also create awareness about environmental issues. Her latest collection, Aagami, presented at the three-day event, was all about celebrating the flora and fauna that are rapidly depleting in number. Translating to ‘future’ in English, the line was a tribute to the fires in the Amazon rainforest and the increasing number of endangered species. “I’m a single mother of a five-year-old boy and when I look at the state of our planet, it scares me. We’ve been blessed with nature and necessities like water and clean air in abundance but we have been ruining it. With this collection, I wanted to throw light on the current situation. It is to focus on the infamous Amazon fire, which should be a wake up call for the entire world,” explains the young designer.
A believer that fashion can be used to make a difference, Divya also used embellishments and yellow flame prints towards the end of her ensembles to depict that this is the beginning of environmental degradation, moving towards a dangerous future. Apart from creating sustainable wear, the city-based fashion entrepreneur also founded a non-profit organisation, Her Right, that aims to give underprivileged women opportunities to work. As one of the first projects under this NGO, Divya employed 50 women inmates from Telangana State Prison to stitch outfits for her. “I don’t believe in just giving money and would rather provide a sustainable livelihood for those in need. My focus has been the same since I started Her Right. After meeting Jayesh Ranjan, Secretary (Information Technology) and the Director General of Police for permissions, I went to the prison to spend time with the inmates. The challenge was to prepare and inform them about my label and the work I do,” she shares.
While most of them knew tailoring and also had good equipment in the cells, Divya’s team told them about the craft and started off with basic designs. After four months, the collection was presented at Heal A Child foundation’s annual fundraiser, where celebrities like Namrata Shirodkar wore the ensemble. “When they saw people walking the ramp in their outfits, the inmates were so happy. They are now working on more designs,” she says. Currently working on her Spring/Summer collection, Divya has chosen to play with a muted colour palette and have more comfortable yet chic outfits. That apart, she has adopted a village, Sarvapur, and is working on providing infrastructure and basic necessities for the residents.
AAGAMI S/S '20 As the name suggests in hindi means FUTURE. With the growing concern of climate change, every individual should today take an oath to save our planet for its future. . . The embellishments depict flora and fauna that's rapidly extinguishing and is alarming. This collection is a tribute to the ones we lost and an awareness to the ones we have to preserve.