A veteran in the fashion industry, designer Neeta Lulla is a name to reckon with. She spoke to SheThePeople.TV about her life and inspirations.
You got married at 16. Do you think early marriage of girls is still a major concern in our society?
Well, for me it was a personal choice to be honest. I was never academically driven and thought marriage was the solution to escape from academics. Women today prefer becoming financially independent before taking the plunge, which is justified looking at the rise in divorce cases in the country. I guess there is never a right age to get married, it’s about finding someone worth spending the rest of your life with.
Fashion industry is often projected as very dark, glamorous and negative. Do you think it’s purely stereotype?
Fashion today is like any other profession – banking, law, architecture, medicine. Parties, celebrities, paparazzi make working in the fashion industry appear like one continuous, glamorous celebration. But not all that you see on the surface adds up to what goes on behind the scenes.
At the end of the day, fashion is a business, built by passionate, hardworking, and talented individuals. More often than not, the myths and stereotypes associated with the industry are exaggerated.
Working in fashion is no walk in the park. It requires stamina and the ability to work under pressure in order to meet tight deadlines and keep up with a fast-paced and ever evolving environment. Working in fashion isn’t just your job, it’s your life, and it’s your social life as well
Did you find it difficult to establish a name for yourself being a woman fashion designer?
The problem with fashion — as well as art, film, and music — is the lack of objective guidelines around why an object or collection might be considered “great”; there’s no rulebook on quality design. While aspects like cultural relevance, historical reference, colour treatment, etc., are certainly considered, most opinions stem from uncertainty — this is where gender-based language comes into question.
Throughout the 20th and 21st century, beauty and fashion were and are the most available mechanisms for women to assert their identities and independence. Fashion lets you say, “I AM ____,” visually, in the here and now.
We’ve seen sexism exist a lot in fashion industry. Do you think times are changing?
Gender bias exists across the board and it’s a phenomenon that sets in from an early age, simple things like the kinds of things boys and girls do. I didn’t grow up thinking life was fair. I believed in my work and I embraced that I am not part of the herd. I used to think about how I would be perceived, but after years of being in this industry, I’ve kind of rebelled against this idea of being accepted.
If you want something different and you don’t get it, you can now create it. If we don’t like how others tell our story, we can narrate our own stories, that is the power of the world of today. It’s about being brave enough to ask for what you need. It’s a great time to be a female in design. I don’t think design, specifically, is any worse than the rest of our society right now.
The higher you crawl up the ladder, the thinner the air. The ratio of men to women is far higher. I certainly haven’t experienced discrimination and bias in a pessimistic way. I was included in shows because they needed a woman. It’s worked in my favour and I got the due recognition. While I would be happy to talk about my own brand of feminism, it’s not design specific; it’s about what we as an industry need to do to respect women.
How do you cope with the changing trends of fashion?
Fashion is not constant, style is and that is a universal law intrinsic to the world of fashion. Trend forecasts are based on seasons — Spring, Summer, Fall &Winter. Today, the average Indian consumer watches international fashion shows, browses through fashion magazines and shops from fashion portals.
Current fashion trends call for well-defined cuts and fits, innovative and funky designing and where comfort is not compromised. If you want to be the flagbearer of the changing face of Indian fashion, you need to be up to date with the consumer lifestyle preferences without comprising on the ethos of the brand through experimentation and breaking through the clutter to live to tell the style tale. No wonder, then, that from red carpets to social media, their presence is generating a buzz.
From everyday experiences and from everyday people. I draw inspiration from life. The late Frida Kahlo has been a very big inspiration for me as she pursued her work and creative talent against all odds and was a holistic woman of substance. Shahdab Darazi for his impeccable finish, Azzedine Alia for his figure hugging cuts and silhouettes, Alexandra McQueen for his luxuriant yet quirky aesthetics with a message that came through from time to time from his collections and Dolce Gabbana for their fantastic sense of blending colour and prints and creative vibrant collections.
What’s your idea of fashion sense?
My personal statement is power dressing, whether it’s Indian or Western it needs to make an impact and tell a story in an elegant manner. I believe fashion is a more bespoke industry. You need to cultivate a personal bond with your client to ensure the outfit reflects the wearer’s persona. The whole idea is to make the outfit bring out the showstopper in the wearer. The House Of Neeta Lulla has always focused on the mantra “be your own kind of bride”, which means that we don’t restrict a bride’s personality and give her the creative freedom to choose what best suits her personality.
I always create designs that make my customer stand out rather than the outfit screaming out loud “Neeta Lulla”. I generally take personalized sessions with all my clients and don’t leave it to my team of stylists. I understand the event requirement and a little about the history of the bride and then mix the two to create the outfit
Considering the digital wave in our country, how social-media savvy are you?
I am getting there yet. I love browsing through Instagram and Facebook to see what’s new and keep in touch with my extended family of well-wishers on social media networking sites.
One favourite fashion app/website you like a lot
Miss Malini, High Heel Confidential, Pink Villa.
Define Fashion in one word
One celebrity you love dressing up and why?
Beyonce because of her Versatility of style, sense of awareness of being her own person and strength of character. She defines these On the international scene.
One advice you’d like to give to upcoming fashion designers
Academics paves a strong foundation to your work in future. It Is important to pursue your strength of design with commitment, dedication and focus. Understanding of your core strength in the field will take you where you want to be. Don’t be enamoured by the glossy life of the fashion world and get prepared to put in a lot of hard work if you want to leave a mark.