You’ve seen our womenswear on wind-whipped fields, along Chandni Chowk’s narrow lanes, traipsing through idyllic farmlands and fragrant flower markets, as well as dancing around lush nurseries and along long stretches of the beach… at home almost everywhere.

Behind it all, is Aparna Chandra, our lead clothing designer whose sensibilities serve both form and function, comfort and a timeless chic. Chandra’s led our clothing team since inception in 2014, but her dalliance with design began much earlier in 1998 when she launched her first collection fresh out of NIFT. She spent seven years (between 2007 and 2014) assuming the role of one of the country’s foremost stylists, working with industry stalwarts like the late Prabuddha Dasgupta and makeup artist Deepa Verma who remains a dear friend even today. “With styling, I wasn’t designing or making anything unless I was doing a film, which was costume design. Whether it was for a commercial or a press shoot or an editorial, with styling you always have a brief. You’ll work with stuff that you don’t necessarily believe in as a designer, but as a stylist you do what works to nail the brief for the designer, or the publication. This is exciting stuff too — to figure someone else’s vision and to do it well, even if it clashes with your own ethos,” she said. It’s this sharp distinction between translating her own vision to designs that are sewn to perfection, versus those fitted on a subject to deliver a brief, that defines her disparate roles as stylist and designer.

Her home is soaked in her own style, a world dip-dyed in crimson hearts, graphic chevron, little floral accents… you’ll see all of this in her work, right from the graduate collection through to all she touches today. You’ll find crocheted miniature dolls and busts in the image of Frida Kahlo dotting her home, an idol she borrows from liberally–in the hemline of her iconic Cholita skirts, or bright colours paired with spotless white. Her style icon has always been Zeenat Aman, seen often in liberal doses of all-white, strings of beads, large sunnies and straw hats—elements that reverberate in the visual language at Nicobar even today. Her views on dressing too are fluid. She comes from a long lineage of creators who make things in their own image, but design highly versatile pieces that are capable of being interpreted in more ways than one. “(Style) has to be you, whatever defines you. It’ll work. That’s what I believe. When you don’t follow trends and believe in yourself, wear what you like and how you like and carry it with ease. That’s well-dressed for me.”

Her graduation collection at NIFT, she says, was her best work. “The only sad part was it was completely synthetic. I worked with permanent pleating to achieve different textures, and it was only possible in polyester because it had to be heat-set.” Her new line, Aparna Chandra for Nicobar, suffers no such indignities. All sandwashed Habutai silk and chanderi with embroidered detail, these gorgeous fabrics dance in super-light silhouettes that are meant for festivity, for dancing, for celebration.

Aparna Chandra for Nicobar is sprinkled with pieces that are meant to be layered, or worn as is, styled many, many ways to suit each wearer. This is Aparna Chandra through and through—stylist, designer, and overall heartbeat of Nicobar all rolled into one.

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