Wear Me Right

Arora

Aneeth Arora is a traditionalist whose designs are a global success because they challenge modern notions of sexiness and body type.

Is it necessary to mention my age?" asks 29-year-old designer Aneeth Arora, "because a lot of people stop taking me seriously once they figure out my age." It is a misplaced worry. She looks her age to begin with. For a photo shoot in Grazia magazine on Young Fashion Awards winners earlier this year, Arora wore a shirt, a waistcoat, a jacket, layered over each other with funky brooches, one of them a doll's head sticking out like a handkerchief from her jacket pocket. Her hair was pulled back in a schoolgirl pigtail, complete with a red ribbon. She is a serious sort of person anyway. Seriously committed to her brand ideology, seriously talented and seriously reluctant about playing word games. She isn't your easily accessible "young designer" who spews cool-hot vocabulary; nor is she obsessed with changing her status message on the phone or Facebook every few hours. At fashion events, even where she has picked up awards, she smiles for an obligatory photo-op like attending a class on a subject she doesn't fancy, then slips away without saying bye lest she be noticed.

But she has been noticed alright. Filmmaker Mira Nair is among those who didn't pause to ask Arora's age before signing her up to design scarves for Kate Hudson in her The Reluctant Fundamentalist, which opened the Venice International Film Festival in August. Not only did Nair track down Arora in Delhi during the film's shooting schedules (after she found her clothes in Brazil), but asked her to play herself in a scene in the film. So you see Arora in a fleeting cameo and her label Pero (which means "wear" in Marwari) on Nair and Hudson for some of their outings. Age has, in fact, been on Arora's side. Last month, she won the first Vogue Fashion Fund Award meant for young designers. Arora is one of India's most successful designers but then, that's not news.

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