Varsha Wadhwa: Indian women are blessed to have curves

By:  Kasmin Fernandes

The fashion designer behind the label VW Luxury Womenswear is bringing clean Italian silhouettes to Indian metros

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Fashion isn't one-dimensional for Varsha Wadhwa. In fact, unlike designers who want to squeeze full-figured Indian women into bandage dresses, she feels we should embrace our curves like the Italian divas do. Little wonder then, that in just two seasons, her label VW Luxury Womenswear has a presence online and in Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai. Coming from a business family of jute and linen mills, the winner of the Young Achiever’s award (in luxury and lifestyle by Aparaajita, Sanmarg) finds inspiration in her grandfather's tales. 

She says, “My grandfather still inspires me, with stories of the time when he dared to dream. Starting with jute mills, he bought a linen factory one day, just because he loved wearing the fabric. His unconventional ways, people skills and vision for environmental and social causes drives me to create something for a better future in our country.”

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Her world travels, foundation in art and design from London College of Fashion and fashion design degree in womenswear from Istituto Marangoni, Milano, are bringing her vision closer. Her silhouettes are elegant and the colour palette romantic, taking us back to the way women were supposed to look and feel – beautiful outside and in. We caught up with the young designer for a chat.

How did you decide on fashion design for a career?

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Since I was three, I used to make clothes for my Barbies, since I never liked what they wore. Random bits of laces, buttons, handkerchiefs, whatever I could find would be turned into 'haute couture'. My mother was super encouraging of all my art and fashion endeavours since then, as she recognised this was my true calling. I used to love styling friends and family and thought with the right ensemble anyone can look beautiful.

What do you hope to bring to the fashion scene here in India?

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I am fascinated by history, literature, art and travel and would love to bring more to fashion than just clothing --- an experience to all the senses. The Indian fashion industry is still young and I think there's a fraternity of some super talented designers who deserve to be on the world map and create legacies globally. I hope to bring a sense of International style suiting the Indian sensibility, with a sense of giving back to the society --- teaching vocational skills to make women financially independent.

What does luxury wear mean to you?

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Luxury to me means the finest quality. Easy and effortless yet exclusive. Luxury is wrapped up in the personal identity of much of the world --- special, unusual, interesting. Luxury is the freedom to create what you want. 

You have created a presence in the booming fashion scene here within a short time.

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To create a presence is one thing and to stay and bloom is another. I think it's a process of finding oneself. For my launch, I went beyond fashion and created a link between fashion and foods --- a room with breakfast installation, morning whites, a high-tea installation with pretty pastels, a cocktail and fine-dining hour installation with gowns, formals and a midnight feast installation with clothes befitting the after-hours, all with different vintage video projections and sounds --- to tease each of the five senses including smell.

It's an evolution of one's identity and being two seasons old, I am discovering my true strengths and learning from my own work. True passion and love for my work, pushes me to explore fashion.

What can Indians learn from the stylish Italians?

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Their simplicity and their confidence of flaunting their curves, which Indian women are blessed to have. Look at the classic beauties like Sophia Loren, Monica Bellucci, Gina Lollobrigida, they're so elegant and effortless in their style. Oh and they're always super well-groomed, which is another quality we can all imbibe.

Who would you like to see in your label?

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I would love to dress [actresses] Kareena Kapoor Khan and Alia Bhatt, [businesswomen] Isha Ambani and Jayanti Chauhan. My muse is a powerful independent woman who is feminine and effortless in her style. 

Varsha Wadhwa's tips

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Invest in classics.

Always wear well-tailored clothes.

Carry one statement piece.

Never look too 'done up'.

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