Hyderabadi designer Aisha Rao’s latest edit is a love letter to Spain's cultural capital Barcelona
The collection is inspired by Catalan Modernism which forms the city's historical architecture.
Design powerhouse Rao brings yet another collection that is a burst of joy. Only this time, she brings the beauty of Barcelona, a Mediterranean city in Spain, which is a beacon of art and architecture and seat of the Catalan empire. Barcelona became a design inspiration for Aisha when she was studying at a premium college IED Barcelona. While she later went to study Sewing and Garment Construction at Parsons New York, the historical city lingered in her mind. Recently, the designer was invited to the cultural capital of Spain, and this time, it culminated into her latest collection Trencadís.
Telling us about it, Aisha shares, “It all started with a serendipitous wedding invitation from an ex-classmate from IED Barcelona. I decided to take this opportunity to revisit my fascination with Catalan Modernism which began during my college days. The wedding became my motivation to go to Barcelona and soon, the trip turned into the genesis of a campaign shoot I’ve always dreamt of doing.” For the unversed, Catalan Modernism refers to a cultural movement that spanned across decorative and fine art, architecture, literature and society where it was a way of expressing re-vindication of Catalan identity — a community in Spain. “While designing this collection, I looked at the works of some of the greatest exponents of Catalan Modernism — Antoni Gaudí and Josep Maria Jujol. Their work exhibited brilliant use of colour and intricately executed mosaics — much like what we do at our label. While researching, the colour connection between Spain and India became more pronounced and this fusion laid the foundation of the collection this year,” Aisha informs us.
The edit includes appliqué saris, asymmetric printed draped dresses, dobby embellished lehenga set, embellished trail gowns and more. The ensembles feature Aisha’s signature upcycled appliqué technique that exudes maximalism with a mix of delicate embroidery work. She tells us about the design process which is inspired by fantastical Modernism creations and avant-garde works she saw in Barcelona, “The collection started with a quest to recreate the beauty of Trencadís — a type of folk art that uses broken tile mosaics put together piece by piece like a vibrant jigsaw. We tried to lend them a new vitality, much like our garments that are crafted with upcycled fabrics. In this collection, we have our signature lehengas, saris and dresses inspired by complex geometries and the expressionist vision of the panoramas in Spain.”
Talking about her favourite piece from the edit, the designer adds, “Th e sequin sari is special to me. It was inspired by the benches in Parc Guell (a garden with distinct architectural elements) and the Casa Batlló (building) roof. Getting to shoot that sari at those benches was a highlight of this season, for me.” Given that Trencadís is a symbiosis of art and architecture, we asked her if art and fashion can go hand-in-hand. She tells us citing examples of her latest edit, “Yes, I do. I try to translate the beauty of Modernism into design metaphors of sorts. So it’s not just the use of art deco motifs or the colour — the prints go beyond the traditional stained-glass mosaics while letting the geometry and abstraction shine through. The Art Deco, Art Nouveau, and East-inspired motifs come together like a Venn diagram reflecting a cross-disciplinary synthesis in my creations.”
We were intrigued by the eccentric names of ensembles in Trencadís — Puig, Trinxet, Aragon, Girona, Xiro, Verdi and more. Aisha tells us they are all inspired by what she saw in the historical city. “Some outfits are named after buildings which were in turn named after the surnames of the Catalan families that own them. Some outfits are named after the streets or places where the Trencadís or Art Deco motifs on these designs originated from.”
On a closing note, we asked her about any trends that she’d like to predict for early 2023 and she tells us, “We’ve done veils this season instead of dupattas, I hope it catches on!” Aisha experimented with cutwork veils over lehengas during her FDCI x Lakmé Fashion Week where showstopper Tara Sutaria wore a black net veil over her signature appliqué lehenga adorned by motifs that were symbolic of Catalan Modernism.
Rs.16,000 upwards. Available online and in store in Hyderabad and Mumbai.