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Designer Simran Rai's collections keep away from quintessential Punjabi fashion elements such as elaborate embroideries and ostentatious bling
The central point on the city's 'gehri' route, the Sector 10 market is dotted with cafeterias, salons and fashion stores that keep it buzzing with activity all day long. In the last couple of years, the market's rear area that has a service lane and a parking spot has evolved into a little business hub housing a restaurant as well. One alley leads to an open-air tea stall that seems to do brisk business. An awning, a green fence and a signboard opposite the stall lead the way to Kontours, designer Simran Rai's studio and workshop. At first it seems like an unlikely place for a designer's studio. Once inside, behind the glass door, one is transported into a different world.
It's reminiscent of a bungalow that has rooms in a row, all of which are separated with small doorways but without doors. The first area houses Rai's collections, hung in niches. Given this month of the year is transit period for most designers — a time when some spring-summer ensembles are still present on the racks to be soon replaced with samples of the coming season — the collection is a mix. There are georgette suits with delicate embroideries and finished dupattas in bright hues hung alongside pure white chikankari ensembles. The suits mostly have A-line silhouettes with texturing and fabric contrasts used as accents instead of heavy sequin or stone work.
We arrive in the evening and catch Rai busy addressing a client in the studio's second area. It's here that she meets people for customised work and fittings. The workshop housed on level three has her staff flit in and out for measurements and other instructions. The scenes in this designer's den seem disconnected from the buzz outside. "It's a central spot, yet away from it all," says the reticent designer. Known for subtle elements in her designs, Rai is unlike other popular designers in the city who address the Punjabi-NRI clientèle with their flamboyant designs with a high dose of "full on" bling and embellishments. "For me, less is more. I rarely design anything with embroidery all over it," says Rai.
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