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Talent Emerging: Deepa Gurnani

We all (us girls) like a sparkly bit of embellishment at somepoint, so when I discovered accessories label Deepa Gurnani – think statement headbands, earrings and necklaces – I was grateful to see a unique idea come into fruition. The duo behind the label, Deepa and her husband Jay Lakhani, use their Indian roots and dedication to one of the oldest crafts, embroidery, to create ornate and intricate designs. For them, India continues to remain close to their hearts and serves as the initial inspiration behind every collection. Defiantly cultural, the one of a kind designs produced by the label are universal, with the brand recently being stocked in Mumbai’s Bungalow 8. Having studied design at Central Saint Martins and honing in on her craft by creating head pieces for the likes of Alexander McQueen and Fendi, Deepa Gurnani went on to combine love and work and her love for work with her partner. Jay Lakhani trained under the likes of Tiffany & Co. and Bvlgari, and is the reason for the brands commercial success; he is always lending Deepa a hand when it comes to considering business tactics. Who said mixing both business and pleasure doesn’t work?

Using beading as their main technique, whilst ensuring everything crafted is handmade, the couple make bold statements by sourcing vintage jewels to produce headwear that is eye catching and unique. As the label grows, they are focusing on giving a modern, western edge on a very traditional skill. Look to the brand for vibrant colours in an array of beading patterns – the term ‘something for everyone’ seems very fitting – I look forward to seeing just how the label will branch out. I caught up with the duo from across the pond to discuss just how it all began…

CU2431_GunGoldPlanet Notion: Hey Deepa & Jay, tell us a bit about yourselves…
Deepa Gurnani:
Deepa grew up in India and I grew up in the States.  At the time, India was very conservative but also very culturally rich and diverse. Growing up in the West and traveling East every year during summer enabled me to stay in touch with my roots. The rich cultural heritage is a constant inspiration for both of us.

PN: How did you two meet?
We have been family friends for generations; our parents introduced us.

PN: Seeing as you’re a couple, is there a fine line between work and your personal lives?
At first, it was extremely hard to draw the line.  With the passing of years, we have been able to figure out our balance.

PN: Just how did the venture Deepa Gurnani begin?
It all started right out of our living room.  We were desperate to create beautiful pieces, so we started embroidering art on our couch.

nk2390_gunMintPN: Deepa, what was it like working for an icon such as Alexander McQueen?
Truly inspiring!  A lot of my brain cells were activated coming up with new ideas and techniques every season.

PN: You both studied at renowned fashion colleges (CSM/FIT), how did you apply what you learnt at these institutions to your own label?
CSM taught Deepa to be fiercely independent – there you have to rely only on yourself with no help from anyone. That is an important lesson in the fashion industry. I graduated from FIT learning to create the balance between business and art.

Wb2123_SeamistPN: It’s great that you can combine the two forces. I know you are passionate about accessories; what is the label’s aesthetic?
Both of us believe in “beauty inside out”.  This inspires us to create pieces that are beautiful inside out. Our main goal is to preserve the age-old craft of hand embroidery in India and in order to ensure a fair exchange, in addition to paying them fairly, we send our embroiderer’s children to school.

PN: That must be incredibly rewarding. Tell us a bit about what inspired your most recent collection?
Our collection “Eccentric Beauty” came from a surreal vision; Dali inviting gorgeous Mughal women, garbed in their rich costumes, to dinner.

PN: That certainly paints a picture – what else inspires you guys?
The 1920′s – the whole era – are the most inspiring for us. It was a decade of beauty & talent.

WB2290_GOLDPN: So when you’re designing, do you sit down and decide on a theme or are you endlessly inspired by different things?
We seek constant inspiration in everything around us.  However, each season we do work around a specialised theme that is intensely researched upon.

PN: What are you bringing to the accessories market that doesn’t exist at the moment?
Each season, our collection consists of unusually embellished works of art. Each of them is a collectors piece.

nk2212_GoldPN: As I ask everyone, how much support do you feel there is available from the fashion industry for emerging designers?
Not enough, especially here in the United States.  London, on the other hand extends tremendous support to young and local talent.

PN: Being stocked globally is a huge achievement, what is next for the brand?
Deepa Gurnani stores are in the pipeline.  Stay tuned!

ER2390_GoldCoralPN: Do you have any advice for young designers in today’s climate?
If you are passionate about something, nothing can stop you.

PN: Any last words?
Don’t get too entangled in technology – rely on your own intelligence.

Visit Deepa Gurnani

- Hardeep Gill

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