‘A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add but when there is nothing left to take away’
Antoine De Saint – Exupery
It is quite a paradox when one realizes that their design choices are on the far end of the spectrum, mostly minimalist & casual but occasionally eccentric and bold. So it becomes a design lovers delight to spot two celebrity designers with absolutely different sensibilities collaborating together to exhibit their product range in the city.
Sans, the multidesigner studio by Sanskruti Patel, showcased an exclusive preview of precious stones jewellery by Queenie Singh and exquisite Chikankari Georgette & Temple Kanjeevarams by Rhea Pillai yesterday in Ahmedabad. The one of its kind of preview was hosted by Priti Shah & Smita Dani in an attempt to bring celebrity designers to the city that is witnessing a sea-change in the buying patterns now.
Queenie Singh, former Miss India, celebrity jewellery designer and a socialite, is definitely a name to reckon with when one thinks of statement jewellery. Be it Hollywood or Bollywood, her designs have many takers, mostly the ones who appreciate bold & eccentric style statement. But what was more amusing was that Rhea Pillai, a former model known to endorse the latest designer wear by famous designers of the country, is now creating her own label ‘Temple House’.
In an exclusive interview with us on a rainy Thursday morning in the city, Queenie and Rhea had to share this with us:
What influences ‘Jewels by Queenie’s design thought process?
Queenie Singh: The design thought process is very instinctive for me. I like to create a line that personifies the inner primal being in me. Its bold and unconventional. Each of my pieces has my element in it, which makes it very unique. I create conventional designs only to cater to the traditionalists who fear making bold choices. However, my label is being worn by many Hollywood and Bollywood celebrities for the spunk that it lends to their overall look.
It will be interesting to note that international celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Lindsay Lohan, Chelsea Clinton, Hilary Clinton, the Queen of Morocco, Paris Hilton, Naomi Campbell wear Queenie’s jewellery whereas on the home ground, Bollywood divas such as Kangana Ranaut, Katrina Kaif and Shilpa Shetty swear by her line
How has ‘Jewels by Queenie’ evolved in the last decade?
Queenie Singh: We all evolve as individuals as the time passes. This evolution leads to the change in thought processes too. My designs are a reflection of my changing persona in the last decade. The creative passion peaks for many during transitional phases of life. I have seen my work change with me, though the quintessential ‘Queenie’ element never goes missing.
Which is your favourite gem in the glamorous world of precious gems jewellery?
Queenie Singh: Emerald is my favourite gem. The rich green colour blends in with all colours and yet manages to stand out.
Do you see any change in buying patterns in different markets like Mumbai, Dubai, Delhi, Bangalore and Ahmedabad?
Queenie Singh: I have always seen that when a woman loves any piece of jewellery, she just buys it. Yes, she will look at the price, but if she is convinced of the uniqueness of the design and the pattern, she will not think twice. It is a universal phenomenon.
As for Ahmedabad, I have realised that the elder women in the house call the shots. If they come for shopping, they decide instantly. They are the decision makers for commodities like jewellery which in places like Ahmedabad is not treated as an expense but as an investment.
Are there any emerging trends that one can watch out for before making a jewellery purchase?
Queenie Singh: Buying jewellery is an expensive affair. The piece is here to stay with you forever. In such cases, trends do not affect the buying pattern. People stick to the conventional choices as their primary buy and then indulge in statement pieces for luxury.
She designs jewellery in almost all kinds of precious gems including diamonds, emerald, ruby & sapphire.The luxury collection displayed at Sans had glamorous neck pieces, chokers, cocktail rings, hand cuffs in all sizes & lengths to be picked from. A soon to be bride’s haven is how we would describe the collection. For the socialite party hoppers, there was an interesting quirky collection that could serve as the conversation starter.
Firstly, how come Rhea Pillai is designing apparels? Share the story with us
Rhea Pillai: I have been a model earlier in my career, so clothes & style came naturally to me. On a routine basis, I would be wearing Chikankari work, be it going to school to teach or be it attending satsang. I have been actively involved in ‘The art of living’. Thus my style sensibilities would veer towards understated and minimalist looks. My dear friend Queenie had been pushing me to start something of my own since a year. After lot of contemplation, I came up with the idea of starting a label that would be synonymous to me and my style statement.
My daughter coined the name ‘Temple House’ for the label and thus began the journey about six months back. This is my fifth exhibition only.
What is ‘Temple House’ displaying today at Sans in Ahmedabad?
Rhea Pillai: We have brought two different varieties of crafts today in Ahmedabad. The first collection is Chikankari work from Lucknow. Each apparel fabric has been painstakingly woven with Mukaish work by the weavers of Lucknow. Available in the shades of ivory and beige, this collection exudes elegance and understated charm of the Nawabi gharanas. They can be worn anywhere, be it Pooja or a festive occasion.
The second craft that I have worked with is Temple saree from Kancheepuram. Considering that the festive season is just round the corner, I chose bright colours for the sarees. Available in scarlet red, mango yellow, navy blue, fuchsia and more, these sarees are to stay with you forever serving as the heirloom pieces for the family. It takes a weaver not less than 6 months to weave one saree for this line. So for the ones looking for traditional South Indian look, these sarees are the must-haves.
What are the future plans for ‘Temple House’?
Rhea Pillai : I want to go with the flow. I will keep working with different craft & textile forms to bring new collection every season. Maybe I will add accessories and events also under the ‘Temple House’ label, but let’s see. For now, I am learning every day about this new business. It’s exciting to know that people appreciate what you have created.
Rhea Pillai is the grand-daughter of actress Zubeida, the actress of first Indian Talkie film Alam Ara and Maharaj Narsingir Dhanrajgir Gyan Bahadur of Hyderabad. Incidentally, Zubeida was the princess of ‘Sachin’ state of Gujarat. No wonder, her poise and elegance is genetically manifested in her.
It’s quite heartening to know that Ahmedabad city is opening its doors for celebrity designers and luxury products. Known to be a market that holds its purse too tightly, Ahmedabad indeed is welcoming new entrants in the segment. With designers of the ilk of Queenie Singh and Rhea Pillai coming to Ahmedabad, we have more options to look forward to in Ahmedabad for sure.