‘Indian designers have an edge’

YOUNG AND gifted fashion designer Surily Goel entered the world of fashion with her own line of garments ‘Surily’ in the year 2003 and within a span of just four years has become a name to reckon with in the realm of style and glamour.

By Vijaya Sukumar (Contributor)

Published: Tue 10 Jun 2008, 3:01 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 3:18 PM

Renowned for her keen sense of fabric and colour, her elite clientele vaunts the likes of Tina Ambani, Avanti Birla, Neetu Kapoor, Karan Johar, Pooja Bhatt, Gauri Khan etc. With a mentor in Manish Malhotra it was hardly a surprise when the petite designer, who studied at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles, ventured into the Bollywood film industry.

She styled Preity Zinta’s clothes for the film Salaam Namaste and then went on to design clothes for films like Jaaneman, Ta Ra Rum Pum, Saawariya and The Last Lear as well. This talented and market savvy designer is aware of the benefits of visibility provided by the celluloid world and makes no bones of capitalising on the popularity gained from her film forays.

This remarkable acumen combined with her creativity and versatility has won her the FICCI Young Achievers award in April 2008. Surily was in town recently for an exclusive preview of her Spring Summer 2008 line - Shibori - held at Samsaara, Dubai, an exclusive fashion boutique housing some of the finest of Indian designers’ collections. City Times engaged the designer in a tête-à-tête.

What is the focus on in this collection?

Shibori is a technique of shading; it’s a technique of dyeing the fabric - the tie and dye effect. The collection is very colourful, summery and shaded. It is more focused on the silhouettes with flowy dresses as it has to be suited for the climate. The collection is in tie and dyes with embellishments and is inspired by the multi colored hues of the season with flowers blooming and nature at its prettiest best. I’ve used a lot of yellows and turquoise because it’s very summery. It also has shades of peach, orange, blue, green and red with touches of pink, purple and golden. The range consists of tops, tunics, gowns and dresses.

What kind of fabrics have you used?

Georgettes and a small amount of jerseys and cottons as well. I’ve used more of georgettes because I feel georgettes flow on your body really well. It doesn’t cling to you and since it’s summer you don’t want to wear something that’s really sticky.

Is the tag of ‘Bollywood designer’ desirable in the world of fashion?

Every situation has its pros and cons. You can’t reach the masses as well as you can through Bollywood because every class of the society is watching it. I think that is the advantage of designing for films. Especially so when an actor is wearing a lot of your outfits a lot of people recognise your work and they come up to you and say ‘Preity Zinta wore this can I have that?’ so it gives you a lot of exposure and the stars carry off your clothes with a lot of style and panache. The disadvantage is that you get labelled as a Bollywood designer and once you get labelled people think your clothes are very filmy, you don’t get taken as seriously as a fashion designer.

Manish Malhotra got recognition as a Bollywood designer and then made his mark as a fashion designer.

Manish started his career with films and then went into fashion whereas I started in fashion and then went to films. He is a film designer whereas I do one or two films a year and concentrate on my fashion.

How did you get into the world of fashion?

As a child I loved clothes, every girl is fascinated with fashion and loves shopping. When I finished graduating I wanted to go abroad and study. I had done my Bachelor in Arts and I did not want to do an MBA or anything heavy duty and serious. So I thought fashion would be a fun course and would give me a chance to learn something new. My parents agreed so I went to Los Angeles and that’s how I got into fashion.

Do you think Indian designers have an edge in the global fashion scene?

Definitely the Indian designers have an edge in embroidery - the beading. I think the kind of embroidery and beading we have in India is not available anywhere else in the world. That is why most of theWestern designers send their clothes to India just to have them embroidered and then they cut and tailor it abroad. But at the same time when you study abroad you learn the technicalities of cutting and stitching. I remember the first day I went to school they told me to design something and I did.

Then my teacher came and crossed out everything and I was wondering what was so wrong in my design and then she said to me ‘There is no button on this so how are you going to get into this? There is no zipper either, so how will you get it on and take it off?’ You know all these small practicalities are very important. You don’t want to squeeze into an outfit and feel uncomfortable in it when you are going to spend so much money on it and spend a couple of hours in it.

How do you balance the Eastern influence in your designs while showing abroad?

The key is to focus on your cuts. Cut and styling is very important. The embroidery has to be minimal because in the West no one wants to be dressed up like a Christmas tree unless you are attending the Oscars or a wedding. There has to be a balance.

You were one of the 11 recipients of the The Young FICCI Ladies Organisation (YFLO) women achievers award. How did it feel to receive this award?

Actually I did not take it seriously. But when I went for the function and saw the extent of it I started shaking because it was a really great honour to be part of it. It was a serious award and I really appreciated it. At the function Renuka Chowdhury, Minister of Women and Child Development in India, said I should take up designing for bigger women and I have seriously taken that up. I do have large and extra large options in my collection because it is true that a lot of Indian women are on the bigger side. A lot of moms tend to be heavier and Indian women are very fashion conscious today so there is a great market there. I think ‘size zero’ is overrated. It is important is to look good, feel good, be fit and healthy.

You seem to have struck a special rapport with Preity Zinta and have designed for quite a few of her films.

She was actually very sweet when I first met her for Salaam Namaste. She didn’t even know me then, nor did she want me as a designer but the director asked her to try me out. She is a big actress and she could have easily put her foot down and refused to work with a new designer. After working for many years you would rather be with someone in your comfort zone than give somebody new a chance, you don’t need that but she gave me a fair chance, which is really commendable. Luckily we both struck a good bond and from there on we have been working together.

What do you think of Dubai?

I think Dubai is fantastic, I actually called home when I landed - it’s so close to India. Instead of going to Europe or America one can come here. Everything is larger than life - the restaurants, the shopping. I do find it all a bit impersonal and intimidating though.

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