The adept fashion designer duo Rimple & Harpreet Narula are making their Bollywood debut in the Deepika, Ranveer, Shahid starrer Padmavati – the next in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s legendary saga. The anticipated blockbuster has had both movie and fashion lovers talk about what will be next in Bhansali’s leading protagonists costume wardrobe. We find out about Rimple & Harpreet Narula’s filmi journey and hints on what we will expect to see in Padmavati’s costume designs.
How does it feel to be apart of the Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmavati and it being your Bollywood debut? What did you enjoy the most on this journey?
Harpreet: Working with Mr. Bhansali is a fabulously inspirational experience for us as designers. He is a master of his craft, a perfectionist with a great eye for detail as we all know. The process of creating the costumes for the project has been of constant evolution, a new learning experience everyday. It is interesting for us as designers how our perception of drama in clothes has also undergone a change while working on the project; how at times “less is more” given the moment in the story line or “more is less”, how various elements need to be layered for cohesive look that is in sync with the director’s vision. Mr. Bhansali is a person whose vision grows everyday, it is fascinating how the characters he envisions become real people who we interact with everyday on the sets. Besides showcasing our creations on three of the finest muses a designer can have, we have understood that he does not want mere clothes but clothes that speak a language, express the character’s nuances and bring out the emotional journeys these characters undertake as they make their way through the narrative.
Rimple: From the very first meeting, Mr. Bhansali and his team along with the lead cast have been very warm to us. Being totally new to the ways of Bollywood, Mr. Bhansali has guided us at every step of the process, be it inputs on history or actual design elements that work on screen, the entire experience has been surreal and deeply enriching as designers.
What research did you have to undertake for the costume designs? Where did you get your inspiration from?
Since it is a period piece, we had to be extra careful when it comes to maintaining the authenticity of the costumes for it is an extremely challenging task to envision and design garments as they were worn by the royals back then as not much is documented of the same. Apart from getting the cultural and period references right, we had to come up with signature looks for all three main characters that would define their personas and set them apart in the eyes of the audience. Keeping that in mind that there is not much documentation of actual costumes of that era, we have done intensive research on the period by way of going through old travellers’ accounts and manuscripts as well as regular visits to the Calico and Jaipur museums to get the touch-feel-look right. Most of the actual samples of antique textiles and costumes from that period are dispersed all over the world in various museums and archives so our love for travel and museums also came in handy when we had to collate all the information required during the research process. Even then, actual living samples of such textiles and costumes are far and few in between so we had to refer to a lot of miniature paintings, murals and frescoes to get the nuances of the styling as close to how they used to be.
“You would find many Sri Lankan influences in Padmawati’s attire while there is a definite nod to Khilji’s Turkish/Afghan origins when it comes to his drapes and ornamentation.” – Rimple & Harpreet Narula
Sanjay Leela Bhansali blockbusters are renowned for influencing South Asian bridal trends here in the UK. Do you think Padmavati will lead in the same direction?
Evolving as a designer is all about juxtaposing various layers of your life over your craft, sometimes it is all about research and technique exploration, sometimes it is about interaction with artisans and sometimes it is more instinctual and spontaneous. Mr. Bhansali is a master story teller, having a great eye for detail, known for his visionary opulent sets and a larger than life depiction of grandeur. Besides showcasing our creations on three of the finest muses a designer can have, we have understood that he does not want mere clothes but clothes that speak a language, express the character’s nuances and bring out the emotional journeys these characters undertake as they make their way through the narrative. As designers we have explored new dimensions of detailing, our very perception of drama in clothes has changed through the process which we hope the audience would find exciting.
Could you please reveal some hints to which kind of silhouettes, fabrics, designs and colours the audience will expect to see in Padmavati?
Working on a project such as this is just not about creating stunning garments but also depicting the director’s vision for his characters and story line as authentically as possible. The clothes have to evolve in the same way the look of every character evolves through the movie. The clothes have to be in sync with the characters’ moods as well as the overall flow of the narrative, bringing out underlying emotions as well the intricate nature of the characters and the plot, so the colour palette, fabrics, surface ornamentation all had to be worked out accordingly. As there were no man-made fibres at that time nor was sericulture prevalent in the sub-continent, we have avoided using the silk or other Chinese substitutes and only used organic cottons and muls along with traditional decorative arts and techniques such as block printing and “varq ka kaam” that were prevalent then.
We have used robust, earthy, luxe-kitsch elements on a mostly warm, earthy colour palette and as designers it was very interesting since various contradictory cultures come together through the course the narrative- the Sinhalese princess who becomes a Rajput queen, the Rajput prince who goes on to become a king, the Afghan invader who becomes the Sultan of Delhi- the elements used show how every region leaves its stamp on the textiles and costumes. You would find many Sri Lankan influences in Padmawati’s attire while there is a definite nod to Khilji’s Turkish/Afghan origins when it comes to his drapes and ornamentation.
What plans do you have in the pipeline in the run up to the release of Padmavati?
As of now, we are totally consumed with the execution of this project as the looks are extremely detailed and research oriented. As designers we are always on the look out for a fresh perspective, new stimuli that fuels the creative process so perhaps once the work on the movie concludes we will explore other such avenues as they come along.
We are extremely excited for the release of Padmavati in November 2017 and to set our eyes finally on Rimple & Harpreet Narula’s creations on the silver screen! If you can’t wait till then, you can catch the talented duo and their latest collection at the Aashni + Co Wedding Show 2017 on Sunday 8th January 2017 at The Dorchester Hotel, London.