A Date with fashionista Aruna Singh
Aruna Singh is perhaps one of Jaipurʼs most popular fashion designers, outspoken about her pride for all things Rajasthani, be it food, fabric or fables! Her store is a veritable treasure trove of an assortment of high fashion and pret collections and she greets us bright and early with cups of steaming hot tea and, as she says, ʻgup-shupʼ!
Aruna is quick to point out that she began her career in 2004. “It all began as a very low profile activity and I was mainly doing clothes for friends who liked what I wore and pestered me to do their wardrobe as well.” Then Lady Luck smiled on her and she did her first show in Chandigarh where she met those who fronted the premium Indian designer label, Satya Paul. She began to supply garments to them as a freelancer as also to Meera and Muzaffar Ali and J JValaya, top Indian designers who have made a name in the international fashion scenario.
“JAIPUR IS A WEDDING DESTINATION AND DURING THE WEDDING SEASON I DONʼT EVEN HAVE THE TIME TO DROP DEAD EVEN IF I TRIED! IT IS SUCH A BUSY TIME THAT WE DONʼT KNOW HOW TIME JUST SLIPS BY! I HAVE STOPPED DESIGNING FOR FILM STARS AS THEY DO NOT WANT TO PAY! AND QUITE HONESTLY, I HAVE NO TIME FOR STARRY TANTRUMS“
With a smile, Aruna says, “I did my course in textile design from the South Delhi Polytechnic and then a course in New York. The Big Apple was a huge eye-opener and gave me many insights as to what I should do with Indian fabrics that are so wide-ranging and magical. I started with Westerns but later gravitated to more ethnic cuts. After all, that was in my blood! As a registered member of the Fashion Design Council of India I have access to markets within the country and abroad.”
Aruna ﬁnds the textiles of Rajasthan not only colourful but extremely versatile. Be it Bandhni or Kalamkari cotton and chiﬀon prints, woollens or silks, each material opens up for her vast vistas of creativity. “I can now say with conﬁdence that my forte is Indian cuts. I cater to customers ranging from the age groups of twenty-ﬁve to forty-ﬁve and I must applaud their loyalty. Jaipur has all the trappings of a big city but its spirit is that of a small town. That makes things quite comfortable though it takes time to change conservative tastes. But I am happy that things are transforming. I love working with diﬀerent kinds of embroidery. If you look at the Anarkali cut for our kurtas, you will see how accommodating and versatile it really is. It has a wonderful ﬂexibility to look good on various shapes and sizes. And, in any event, style has to be strongly individualistic if it has to stand out and weather the test of time.”
Aruna points out that, rather unfortunately, Indian chic is determined by a host of Bollywood stars who, ironically, have little or no sense of style. “Most of them look like Christmas Trees,” she laughs. “But the bulk of Indiaʼs middle-class that has suddenly come into surplus money imitate them and look horrible! We forget that most of them are playing loud and larger-than-life characters in our mainstream blockbusters and what they wear on screen is to accentuate the character. Now if you, in turn, decide to duplicate what they are garbed in in real life, you are bound to be a disaster!” “See, we are lucky that in our country certain costumes are perennial,” Aruna points out. “For instance, take the salwar-kurta or the sari. For me, the sari is, indeed, an all-time favourite. You can drape it in so many different ways and use such varied fabric. Look at the range of cotton and silk saris that India has to offer. It is mind-boggling! From simple to complicated weaves, it is an out-and-out overflow of different patterns and motifs.
I applaud our weavers who produce such magic in our villages! Today, I can tell you that work was once a necessity but is now a passion for me!” Aruna did some export assignments for two Italian brands that were initially great with payments. But once the market began fluctuating, so did the cash flow. She has worked with some top labels in India as well but now her flagship store in Jaipur takes up all her time. As she says, “Jaipur is a wedding destination and during the wedding season I donʼt even have the time to drop dead even if I tried! It is such a busy time that we donʼt know how time just slips by! I have stopped designing for film stars as they do not want to pay! And quite honestly, I can neither chase for what is owed to me nor have time for starry tantrums. To each his own. Iʼm very happy designing for Rajasthanʼs royalty! I have also stopped participating in fashion shows that come dime a dozen. Unless I know the organisers well, Iʼm really not interested. Iʼve been there and done that!
Now I want to do it my way! Iʼm excited with the new line Iʼm experimenting with. It is based on chiffon and georgettes. Very chic. Very classy. Very Indian!”