Zara Umrigar: Handmade Glamour
Zara Umrigar’s fashion career began at the age of 7.
She would watch her mother, renowned Indian wear designer Sabita Dhanrajgir Umrigar at work, and began sketching at an early age.
After pursuing her higher studies at the London School of Economics, Zara completed her time in London with a detailed course in Fashion Design at The London College of Fashion. Upon her move home to India, she worked under her mother for two years before launching her own couture label: Zara Umrigar.
Now she’s coming to Paris Fashion Week!
Q: When did you know you wanted to be a fashion designer? How did your mother Sabita Dhanrajgir Umrigar influence you?
Fashion and art was always a passion of mine, and I knew from a young age that it would be a part of my future.
I grew up watching my mother design and create beautiful Indian wear with the most intricate hand embroidery. I was always in awe of her passion and the intricacies that went into making each piece.
I grew up watching my mother design and create beautiful Indian wear
I soon developed an undying love for all things couture and learned that true beauty lies in the details. Above all, it was about making dreams come true. Creating an outfit for someone that would reflect who they are, and a moment that would become a memory for them.
Q: What are your other influences? Your work definitely has an Old Hollywood / Bollywood glamour.
I love portraying different sides to a woman and blending both strong and feminine aspects in each design. I try to express the contrasting sides to life and human beings, while showing how beautifully all aspects of it can come together. I have always been inspired by Old World Glamour, which is dying in the world we live in today.
I have always been inspired by Old World Glamour
My aim for each creation is to really help bring to life an era that has gone, and mix it in with the modern world we live in today.
I grew up visiting the palace in which my maternal family was raised and where many of them continue to live. From its detailed carvings, statues, and art, to it’s beautiful grandeur, it sparked my love for anything Old World, vintage and handmade.
I grew up visiting the palace in which my maternal family was raised
Q: When are your dresses meant to be worn? Who is the “Zara Umrigar woman?”
The Zara Umrigar woman is brave, passionate, elegant and glamorous. I would say our outfits are best suited to cocktail parties, weddings, and red carpet events.
Q: Your garments have painstaking detail. Tell us about the process of creation. Which elements are handmade, and how long does it take to make a full dress?
The process of creation is intense, exciting, and even overwhelming at times. I immerse myself completely in each collection, and believe in perfecting every detail of anything I create. Mood boards, sketches, embroidery patterns, and swatches become my life as I work toward my inspirations for each collection. Drawing out embroidery designs and watching them come to life is enthralling.
Drawing embroidery designs and watching them come to life is enthralling.
Pushing boundaries, and telling a story through these designs is the best part of it all. It takes an unfathomable number of hours, patience and effort to hand-embroider each of these outfits, requiring a team that is highly skilled and devoted to what they do.
I mix in various different types of hand embroidery into each piece, and keep the cuts classic … aiming to make them timeless and unique. We usually take one month to make an embroidered gown and sometimes two if it’s a custom order.
Pushing boundaries and telling a story through these designs is the best part of it all
Q: You’re very educated, having attended the London School of Economics, and the London School of Fashion. How has your education helped you as a business person and as an artist? Are there any pitfalls to formal education in fashion?
Studying and exploring different fields not only taught me how to create the pieces I envisioned, but also helped me gain the knowledge I needed to run my own business, proving to be invaluable to me. In a few short years I launched stores across India and have had my pieces worn by some of the biggest actors in both Hollywood and Bollywood.
In a few short years I launched stores across India
While my course in fashion was a short, detailed one, that taught me many technical aspects that went into making each piece, I’d have to say that what I learned on the job taught me most of what I really know today. Nothing compares to what you learn when you are not afraid to fail and find your way.
Nothing compares to what you learn when you are not afraid to fail
Q: Tell us about what we can expect to see at your upcoming Paris Fashion Week show.
My SS ’18 collection is inspired by the planet, celebrating its beauty while also shedding light on the parts of it that are dying and becoming extinct. Staying true to my love for couture, you can expect intricacy, elegance and glamour!
you can expect intricacy, elegance and glamour
Q: What do you see for the future? What are your ultimate goals?
In the near future, I hope to have my brand at big department stores across different countries, while my ultimate goal is to have independent luxury stores all over the world, making it an experience for every person who walks in.
I hope to continue to express myself through fashion, and hopefully find ways to use it, to spread awareness, and make a change.
Zara Umrigar’s Paris Fashion Week show will be September 28, 2017.