If Vidhi Wadhwani was in the dictionary, its meaning would probably be “translating poems into dresses”. At the carrefour of delicate and bold, Dubai-based designer Wadhwani manages fabric manipulation in a fairy-like way including signature 3D manipulations, unusual drapes and celebrating hand skills. We dove into Vidhi’s universe, wanting to understand a bit more the mechanisms behind the magic…
Hello Vidhi – Can you please tell us a bit about your journey and how you started in fashion?
Hello! I have always had a creative instinct and after graduating from the National Institute of Fashion Technology of New Delhi and interning at some top fashion labels, I had the confidence to start on my own. I began with one family tailor on my mom’s balcony just after graduating and started with small pop-ups around the country.
The journey of having your own business, starting from scratch, has been rewarding and arduous. The sense of accomplishment has now finally come with experience and gaining so much knowledge along the way.
What is a day like in your life at work? What is your favorite part of your job?
My day usually starts early with readying and dropping my kids to work. I’ve realized I’m most inspired in the morning and that’s when most ideas and inspirations come to me. So I start with taking notes for the day, planning my day ahead in advance which basically involves prioritizing what’s most important; client orders, show planning or sketches for the collection etc. Mostly, I sketch and visualize the outfit but sometimes it’s a particular texture or fabric that creates a design.
It’s constant back and forth with the merchandiser, stores, PR team, online clients, noting new orders. Most importantly, my design team and evenings are about sending out the pieces to our online clients and stores. It’s quite hectic! After I’m done, I’m back with my family but work is always on my mind : )
Is it inspiring to live in Dubai and does it boost your creativity?
I love Dubai! It has so much to offer in terms of design, beauty and creativity. It’s constantly evolving and there is so much to see. It’s a melting pot of different cultures and there is something to learn everyday. It has really inspired me not just on a work level but in all spheres of life.
Can you tell us the story behind your SS20 collection, “Folie”?
Folie actually stands for madness in French. It was inspired a lot by what I saw in Dubai.. women embracing colours, extravagance and fun at all times. It was also the first time we used such bright hues in my collection which I realized was because of how I felt during designing… I’d just moved to Dubai and I felt excited, positive and so inspired by the place and it was showing through in my collection. I wanted to depict the exuberant festive nature of the place through our signature textures and silhouettes but adding some drama and a lot of details.
Do you usually have a favorite fabric to work with?
The USP of the label has always been to work with a Zero Waste policy. Every season, to minimize fabric wastage and pollution, we incorporate leftover fabrics from previous seasons to develop multi-dimensional textures and value-addition to a piece. For the past few seasons, we have been using silk organza as a base for adding new textures and using the leftover fabrics as trims as it gives a beautiful,rich and layered feel to an outfit.
How are you staying positive during these difficult times we are going through?
These are unprecedented times which none of us were prepared for. Our Spring/Summer line was launched a month prior and its production was in full swing then we had to suddenly stop. We were also sampling for our Resort 20 line which is now cancelled. But the main priority is to keep the team safe and united. They will be paid full salaries till they return and funds from the business have been used for an NGO to help in food supply for the daily wage workers.
To keep positive, my team keeps sending pictures of them with their families and I myself have been keeping busy doing fun activities with my kids or cooking for them which I couldn’t do earlier. I’m positive we will bounce back soon : )
Do you believe that the fashion industry will have to rethink some of its key activities like Fashion Week?
Yes, absolutely. This conversation had been going on since a while and now the pandemic has only made this conversation louder and stronger. Though Fashion Weeks are a great way of coming together for the industry, the amount of carbon-footprint, wastage of resources and over-branding through influencers was diluting the core of what fashion stands for.
Since now, travel and marketing expenditure will be consciously reduced, looking at the burden on the designers, a digital e-show or digital visibility is the way to go for the planet as well as for a positive contribution from the fashion industry.
What would be your ultimate goal as a designer? Anyone you’d dream to dress?
My ultimate goal as a designer would just be to have contributed in a positive significant manner to the fashion industry. More than 60% of our staff is female and from all walks of life. If I can build a community of strong empowered women coming together, sharing stories and empowering each other, I would feel like I have succeeded in some way.
It would be a dream come true to dress Blake Lively or Zendaya as I love their individualistic style and personality. It resonates so much with the women we design for- strong, self-assured, balanced yet adventurous!
Photographer: Goran Matijasec
Model: Nervana Noweir
Make up: Sabab Milwala
Styled by Atiyya Laher