In conversation with designer Rehane on her new studio, taking a break, and new summer silhouettes
WALK INTO DESIGNER Rehane Yavar Dhala’s new studio, and you're immediately transported to the 1940s. Hidden under a canopy of trees in Venus Colony, Alwarpet, the studio flaunts 70-year-old architecture — mosaic floors, high-panelled grills, and tall doorways. There’s an old transistor playing an MGR song, a silver sewing machine placed right at the entrance, and banana leaves hand painted on the walls.
We caught up with the First Lady of fashion, who has been in the industry for over two decades to chat about what pushed her to start something new, and why she needed to take a break. “The 10-year-old shop in Nungambakkam is my own and I could be there for the next 100 years, you know? But I really needed a sabbatical of sorts,” says Rehane, as she sits down for a quick chat, while also multi-tasking with a client who she has been working with for the last 21 years. “In my profession, you can't take a break, but you can skip a step. You can breathe, and every person needs to do that.”While the atelier was a pure retail space, this 1,800 sq ft studio is a more intimate space where she gets to ideate, design and exchange swatches with her clientele. “My work is my life, so I wanted to be where my sampling team and tailoring team sits. We are still a work in progress of course. But I am so glad I moved here, it’s going to be a blast!” reveals Rehane, as she leads us to the centre of the studio, where her clothes are neatly arranged on hangers. “We are right now prepping for our main collection, which will officially kick-off our festive season. We have a lot of cotton, believe it or not! And Shararas, ghararas, and block prints.” With most of her clothes sold out on opening night, the designer talks about the collection she has on racks now. “We have quite an informal line right now, because what are you even going to design in May and June with this summer? Frankly speaking, we should be wearing grass skirts!” laughs Rehane.
The studio also offers bespoke ensembles like her duck egg blue skirt, teamed with a surprise element. “It’s not a dupatta, no sir! It’s a capelet. Now, this is what you call good ol’ fashion glamour,” she says, as she twirls around dramatically with the capelet. “We also have this interesting design, which comprises dhoti pants and a dupatta, but it wraps like a sari. It’s so chic and whoever wears it looks so smart.” She then shows us another one of her ensembles that brings together a bustier, and farshi pyjamas, and net dupatta. “This dates back to what the gentry used to wear in Lucknow and Rampur, until very recently. The word farshi comes from farsh, or floor because the pyjamas used to come with a train that used to trail the floor.” Rehane recommends pairing this with a teeka and little earrings for any mehendi function, especially in our weather. “I also have a golden body suit, which is very Beyoncé-sque. It can be paired with a high-waisted skirt, pants or even a long skirt. Or you can wear it like Beyoncé, and dance to All The Single Ladies!” concludes Rehane, as she does a little dance of her own.
Price on request.