Aliya Ladhabhoy
At the cusp of launching her flagship store in Delhi, 12 years after she made her foray into the fashion world, Rimzim Dadu has established that she does things at her own time and pace. Instead of using ready-made fabrics, she magically crafts metal, acrylic, silicone and even paper into garments that are high on drama yet easy to drape.
Rimzim Dadu
Over the years, she has honed her signature techniques – 3D floral applique and cords which she uses across apparel, fashion accessories, and soon in home products as well. In an email interview, Dadu talks about her design ethos and her plans to expand her brand within the country and abroad.

Could you tell us a little more about your father’s role in inspiring you to become a fashion designer?
I was exposed to the world of fabrics and design very early on in my life since my father runs an export house that caters to clients worldwide. I remember spending a lot of time in his factory after school hours – watching and learning. I was fascinated with the idea of designing. He was the one who saw my interest early on and encouraged me to take up designing as a career.
He is my biggest fan and also my harshest critic. He never minces his words – in praise or constructive criticism. This is why his opinion matters to me the most. He taught me to be independent and never compromise on my design ethos. He also taught me the importance of always being original. These values continue to form and shape my brand’s identity even after a decade. You play with cords to create three-dimensional textures and silhouettes.

Tell us more about your techniques.
We are not a cut-and-sew design house. Buying ready-made fabric and just stitching something out of it has never excited me In fact my team calls our studio the lab because we are constantly experimenting with materials. Our fascination with experimenting, reengineering, breaking materials apart and putting them together is what made cords our signature. For example, our steel-wire technique evolved after a lot of experimentation. We were able to change the very nature of steel – our clothes made with steel cords look like armour or sculpture from far, but up close they are as malleable and wearable as any other fabric. Similarly, we changed the nature of chiffon from soft to grunge. Working with cords allows me to experiment and achieve this sense of deception.
Tell us a little about your design philosophy.
I would say my design philosophy is very instinctive. I have never looked at trend forecasts, I have stopped believing in the concept of seasons. When I design, my aim is to create statement pieces that have a story to tell. In a sea of thousands of design houses popping up every day, I just want to create pieces that are timeless, that people can connect with and treasure them as investments which can be passed down to the next generation.

How do you balance form and function?
For me, form and functionality go hand in hand. Every piece I create has to be easy to wear, maintain and store. It’s not always a cakewalk, especially when it comes to sculptural pieces, but I like to tread the fine line between prêt and couture.
How long does it typically take to create one garment?
Typically, it could take anything from four or five days to about four-six weeks, depending on the piece.
Which piece has taken the longest time to construct?
Our Leather Patola collection was the most time-consuming. It involved creating leather cords and recreating traditional Indian patola prints with it.

What was the inspiration for your latest collection at the Lotus Make-Up India Fashion Week (LMIFW) Spring/Summer 2020?
Our latest collection takes inspiration from the idea of movement frozen in time and movement sculpted in the material. The collection depicts sculpted fluidity in form and silhouettes. ; a result of refining various signature techniques and explorations. The entire collection is inspired by waves and ripples in the ocean.
You also showcased menswear for the first time…
I wanted to launch my menswear line for a while now but just couldn’t entirely visualise how I would translate my aesthetic to it. The menswear capsule I launched in October is a result of a lot of experiments over the last couple of years. The response so far has been phenomenal. I think there is a gap in the statement menswear segment in India, and I’m glad people are responding well to what we’ve created.

Can you take us through the construction of one of your garments?
Our 3D applique technique is an offshoot of the traditional craft. We take basic cotton fabric and treat it with chemical and heat processes so that it almost behaves like paper — it can then be cut into any shape without it fraying. We then use this crisp, treated cotton to hand cut small petals and fold them like origami and place it on to another fabric.
What materials are you experimenting with at the moment?
I’m focusing on refining all our signature techniques and materials, expanding our collections and launching new verticals.
We’ve already launched accessories last year, and they’ve done very well. We are focusing on expanding our line of accessories, menswear and festive ensembles. At the same time, research and development has already started for our home products line.

What are your goals for 2020?
We are in the process of launching our first flagship store in New Delhi by early January. It’s going to be a huge milestone for the brand. My goal for 2020 is to understand the changing face of retail and to expand our presence not just in India but internationally as well.

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