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By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi
Indian fashion is well known for its elaborate embroidery and luxurious silks, and one designer is combining these traditions into one sustainable couture label: Sonya Vajifdar. Awed by haute couture when she worked as a model, she decided to study fashion at the Istituto Europeo di Design to learn her craft. From there, she was hired by the French Fashion House Estrele to style their editorial shoots.
Just a little later, the talented young woman founded her own label at the age of 21, embarking upon her entrepreneurial adventure with the intent of creating a global lifestyle brand that would make a positive impact on environmental and social sustainability.
Today, her label is the quintessence of high-end sustainability, using artisanal techniques and eco fabrics to create exceptional couture pieces. Her latest collection, called “The Organic Bloom,” is composed of a rather unexpected material: recycled Coke cans and old X-ray embellishments to form intricate embellishments on gorgeous gowns.
Indeed, Sonya is nothing if not innovative: she is the only designer in India to have come up with a high-end designer rainwear collection – perfect for the Indian monsoons – and also crafted a number of different looks for the UK Next Top Model live catwalk show in London a few years ago. She further showcased some of her other collections in shows in London, Singapore, Dubai and Norway, and is the Course Director of fashion styling at the Indian School of Design and Innovation, Parsons Mumbai.
Sonya’s collections aren’t just created from upcycled and sustainable materials; they’re ethical, too. Through her work, Sonya aims to draw attention to the inimitable skills of the craftsmen and women who produce her designs through her ‘Know your source’ campaign, in which people from around the world can participate via Instagram. It’s kind of like ‘Fashion Revolution‘, where fashionistas share their stories about the provenance of their clothing.
Sonya doesn’t just create ethical couture: she produces covetable silk kaftans and also has a ready-to-wear line that includes cocktail dresses, pantsuits and tops that are perfect for formal evenings out dining, dancing or networking everywhere from Milan to Mumbai.
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