Published on March 18th, 2014 | by Jehan Raffiuddin
FAB WOMAN: Menaka Premkumar
Co-Founder of Soirée Couture with a degree in Knitwear Design Technology from National Institute of Fashion Technology, meet Menaka, whose strength is beautifully crafted free flowing drapes. Hand Embroidery is her poison – with its sparkle, shine and richness. She’s on a mission to offer the right balance of art, fashion and luxury to women world over. Read on about her journey for some Tuesday evening inspiration
Armed with a high ranking Honours degree in Psychology from St. Xavier’s college and a year and a half work experience in a Customer Care capacity in the corporate sector, Menaka Premkumar completed her second undergraduate degree in Knitwear Design Technology from National Institute of Fashion Technology, Mumbai. She thereafter worked at Sepia as a fashion designer for a year and a half where she met her soul sister and future business partner Disha Patel. Disha Patel and Menaka Premkumar both pursued diverse interests, until their love for embellishment, penchant for sharp and sensual silhouettes, obsession with high fashion and an inherent passion for luxury brought them together in their quest to create a brand that reflected these values. Innumerable tete-a-tetes involving countless cups of coffee, chocolate and conversations about couture later, Soirée was born. Soirée Couture is a reflection of a heightened sensibility of luxury, complemented by an eye for the latest trends, with roots in the ultimate essence of classic style. The duo conceptualizes their garments as masterpieces that adorn a woman. Each piece speaks of the union of art with luxury.
Taking individual clients’ orders, crafting outfits for birthdays, weddings and other celebrations is how they began. Once they established a client base, they set up their first formal exhibition at Pune, which got them a very enthusiastic response and a strong fan following. Another exhibition and a few home trunk shows later, they decided to take the plunge into their biggest dream – showcasing on the ramp. “2014 saw us accepted to present ourselves at Blenders Pride Bangalore Fashion Week Spring Summer Showers 2014 and the luxury demi-couture resort line we showed there won us a lot of accolades and appreciation. Since then, there’s been no looking back.” – Says Menaka. Ask Menaka to describe her day and she’ll explain how her days fly by with a crazy whirlwind of sketching, designing, pattern-making and developing prints and embroideries – doing what she knows best and loves best! The duo generally work on instinct – whenever they find themselves personally in need of a particular item of clothing, they see an opportunity. Where there is a gap in the market, where demand is not met with adequate supply, they jump in. They create clothes that they themselves need and want to wear and that has worked out well for them. “While designing we always try to create more of the kind of silhouettes, techniques and drapes that are unexplored and to create embellishment and surface development that is unique so that no client of ours feels that there are numerous replicas of her garment in the market.” Says Menaka, who understands how important it is to every woman to own that one garment that is transformative and unique to her only. Kind of like Cinderella, at the risk of sounding clichéd
The FAB BAG Crew absolutely loves their clothing line & secretly wishes to steal their entire collection. We had a wonderful time chit-chatting with Maneka. We’ve saved some of the best parts of the conversation for you.
FAB BAG: If not Menaka, who would you be?
Menaka: In real life, I would definitely not want to be anyone else! But in an alternate reality, I would love to live a day in Scarlett O’ Hara’s life (female protagonist of the novel Gone with the Wind) just to get a sense of her indefatigable spirit, spunk and never say die attitude and surviving against all odds.
FAB BAG: One beauty tip that you can always fall back on?
Menaka: A Multani mud pack and lots and lots of water.
FAB BAG: If you could go on a one-time date with anyone, who would it be?
Menaka: The late Alexander McQueen – My God I would travel back in time, for a coffee with him, just to get a glimpse of the cogs of his genius mind whirring. Also Since I find fictional characters so fascinating: Fox Mulder from the X Files for fascinating conversations about the unknown!
FAB BAG: With so many fashion brands available, what makes your brand unique?
Menaka: With our brand, Disha and me are endeavouring to bridge the gap between art and fashion. We try to impart a little of the artistic streak within us to each of our garments, so that they have that unique signature that only we can provide. All our prints are hand painted and the embroidery and embellishment techniques we use are those we develop from our sketches and paintings and experiments.
FAB BAG: If money could buy happiness, what would you spend it on?
Menaka: Any little bit of vintage Alexander McQueen haute couture from his early days as a designer. Specifically his “Oyster” Dress from ‘Irere’ , his spring/summer 2003 collection which is an awe-inspiring confection of Ivory silk, organza, georgette, and chiffon.
FAB BAG: What are your future plans with Soirée Couture?
Menaka: Disha and me would want to redefine couture via Soirée as that little piece of heaven that every woman can own. We want to change the impression that couture only exists on the ramp or in magazines. We want to personalize fashion to every woman, so it becomes like a fragrance that takes on unique overtones depending on the woman who wears it. Our goal is to create exquisite garments that become like family heirlooms and the substance that priceless memories are made of and dress women from every walk of life, every age and every culture.
We’re inspired by these budding fashion designers. The duo wants to take their brand to an international level and penetrate those markets (local and abroad) where women appreciate garments and clothing isn’t merely a necessity or a means to an end, but more like a celebrated art form.
Parting Shot: Menaka was always passionate about fashion and art. Although while growing up her parents felt that fashion was something she should pursue as a hobby more than a career. But Menaka was determined she completed a degree in Psychology for their sake and then went chasing behind her dreams only to start her own clothing line today. For those of you reading this story we have one message, “The distance between your dreams and reality is called action“
The *FAB* Women initiative by FabBag.com celebrates the occasion of Women’s Day all through the month of March with an aim to inspire women across the country by sharing stories of ordinary women with extraordinary lives. If you liked reading Menaka’s story, please leave a comment below and share this article. It’s now your turn to spread the inspiration.