Hyderabadi designer Aisha Rao aces mindful luxury with sea-scape inspired edit Starboard and Port
Her new edit inspired by nautical elements marks her five-year design journey
In the five years of her journey, city-based designer Aisha Rao has proved that she thrives on experimentation. Season after season, the IED-Barcelona pass-out has brought a slew of collections that embed her penchant for uniqueness. If Razzmatazz introduced us to vibrant appliquéd and embellished lehengas; Pastiche presented ensembles with gorgeous prints and organza; Paper Dolls introduced us to delicate tissue outfits; and her last edit, Trencadis features prêt and sequin work ensembles. This time, as the designer completes five years of her label that started in 2017 as Hyderabad’s premium occasion wear design house, Aisha brings her brand new collection Starboard and Port. The edit is particularly close to her heart, as it represents a culmination of all the hard work and dedication that she has put in over the years.
Telling us how the edit is a metaphor for her design journey, she elaborates, “As a label, our journey of five years has been an adventure filled with twists and turns, much like sailing through rough waters. The Starboard and Port collection signifies this journey, symbolising our growth and evolution as a brand. Each piece in the collection represents a unique stop on our journey, as we continue to explore and push boundaries in the world of fashion.” The campaign of the collection was shot in the serene coastal town of Goa, which perfectly captured the essence of the edit. “The location offered a perfect blend of beauty and tranquillity, making it an ideal backdrop for our campaign, ” she adds. The edit features ensembles inspired by vintage nautical elements, resulting in whimsical, eclectic, colourful and playful prints and motifs. The pieces are adorned with motifs of seascapes and abstract interpretations of vintage maps and voyages.
Expect chic outfits like one shoulder sequin gowns with slit, multi-colour jacket and skirt co-ord sets, halter-neck gowns, double-breasted blazers with high-waist pants and more. Most of the ensembles lie at the tangent of occasion and resort wear pieces adorned with embroideries like aari that lend a glamourous and opulent look. The young designer who is known for being a champion of upcycle luxury takes the cause further sincerely and brings her famous applique design technique. However, for the first time, she meshes it with lurex fabric. Additionally, she has utilised some fabrics from her last collection such as glaze and sequin fabrics to minimise waste.
Telling us about her plans and strategy to make the label more sustainable, she adds, “I was naive enough to begin with a ‘zero’ waste ideology to make an upcycled luxury brand. When we hit volumes in the same order, we struggled to find the perfect waste to make repeats. Hence, we introduced printed versions of the same designs or similar alternatives so we didn’t have to buy the perfect coloured fabric to appliqué onto an ‘upcycled’ lehenga. We had to reinvent and so I use the words mindful luxury now. I do not want to greenwash in the name of sustainability. We are trying every day to strive for a harmonious balance between a sustainable environment and sustainable business.”
Much like her past edits, this collection too appeals to young hearts. Aisha tells us how she aims to stay relevant for the coming generations, “As a new age label, I feel that people’s choices have evolved drastically over the last five years. People are looking for more sustainable, mindful, and unique fashion options, which is something we strive to offer with our label.” On an ending note, the designer who has honed her skills in Sewing & Garment Construction at Parsons, New York, shares about the kind of unlearning she had in her journey so far, “I believe, the day I feel I have cracked it will lead to my doom, so I approach every collection with a novel approach like ‘what can I do new here?’ I reinvent within the parameters I had set for myself which is both challenging yet gratifying.”
Rs. 25,000 upwards. Available online and in-store.