From left Nimisha Philip, Preethi Kitchapan, Sahil Jain


Preethi Kitchapan DISB show-stopper

WOW as a movement has been voicing out the need to break beauty stereotypes of shape, size and skin colour. We have always been open to partnerships that will help take the message of the equality and dignity of all skin shades ever since the Dark is Beautiful campaign was launched in 2009. Recently, WOW was honoured to have been able to partner with corporate lawyer and designer Nimisha Philip at the Madras Fashion Week to celebrate the beauty of dark skin through her Be Audacious line of stunning women’s attire. Her flair for combining elegance with bold designs artfully and her passion for the cause made this a very unique and meaningful show. Let us take you backstage and into the heart of what makes Be Audacious a clothing line with a difference.

What’s your definition of fashion?

Fashion is an inspiration of identity, commodity and art, intertwined intangible material. It is an expression of your inner being, making your body a platform for display.Fashion has the function of culture, modesty, necessity and art to inspire emotion in its viewers.  This is the reason I love setting and following new trends in fashion as it has a capacity to inspire a sense of audacity, fearlessness and a spirit of awe!

What’s unique about your fashion?

I believe my designs are very personal to me and my clients. I cannot design if I don’t find inspiration from the client or if I am not helping them stand for something that is important to them. Every time I design for my clients, I write a personal message for them in the “Be Audacious” box, to inspire them to value that moment and aspire for greater heights. Each of my garments when sold will also give my clients the opportunity to contribute to the child’s life, as 10% of the profit will go to helping a disadvantaged child.

Why showcase women’s issues through your clothes?

I am a practicing lawyer by profession and women’s rights issues is something very close to my heart since my 9th grade dream to be a lawyer, something for which I have voiced my opinion on several platforms. When the idea of “Audacious” was born, I knew that using fashion& design to drive home the message of women empowerment would be an interesting and fun platform.

What are the challenges you face?

I am still rather new to the industry, but have followed since I was a young girl. Since my childhood, I never liked being told what I can and cannot wear, and that’s also one of the challenges I will face in this industry.The Madras Couture Fashion week (Season 3) was my very first platform for me to display my designs on a public ramp; little did I know I would get this kind of fabulous response. It has really encouraged and also shown me that the fashion industry is no trivial game. They do what they do with tremendous effort, inspiration, investment and risk.

How do you juggle both roles of Lawyer and Fashion Designer?

It’s been quite an amazing journey so far, but with crazy amount of hard work and very late sleepless nights. I love both the fields so much and I wouldn’t want to leave either of them. Being a lawyer at one of India’s top law firm, Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas is no piece of cake; it has long nights of due diligence and client expectations to be met. Adaptation and promptness play very key roles in balancing both. It also helps to have an amazing Partner as your boss, who gives you space, but expects work to be done when needed. I like to believe I get by with a lot of grace from God and a supporting family and friends who get on my bandwagon of craziness at any point in time. I really do believe when you value every person that helps you in your journey in life, anything can become possible.

What does the “Dark is Beautiful” campaign mean to you?

Vivienne Westwood said, “Art gives Culture.” I believe in clothing creating culture; clothing finds resolve in developing culture, modesty, simplicity, elegance, style, life – especially in glorious works of Indian colour and design. But when it comes to the beauty of your own skin colour, our definitions single out “fair” as the  option.

As a girl whose mother is gorgeously fair skinned and Dad handsomely Dark skinned, I always received different views on this topic. Luckily, both my amazing parents are broad minded when it comes to their daughters having their own opinion.When I came across the words “Darkisbeautiful,” my heart immediately drew my feet towards it. That’s when I met Kavitha and her team and put my name down to volunteer for both their campaigns: “Girl Arise” and “Darkisbeautiful”. After that day, it has been a series of amazing events.

What was your experience and how did the Madras Couture Week show champion the “Dark is Beautiful” Campaign?

I knew The Madras Couture Week would be a great platform to drive home to the fashion industry the message of Beauty Beyond Colour, especially when I saw that there wasn’t a single dark skinned model in my three weeks of searching. That’s when I knew my show-stopper had to be a strong, independent dark skinned model, PreethiKitchapaan, a gorgeous fawn skinned model and a mother to a lovely young girl.

Every quote and song I picked for each of the models was about women empowerment intertwined with the message “DarkisBeautiful”. I also had the opportunity to bring on board the powerhouse of a voice, Kavita Thomas, and amazing dancers of Aparna Nagesh’s “High Kicks- All Girls Dance Ensemble”. When they heard about the campaign they got on board in a heartbeat, without whom the ending of my show would not have been such a grand success. I was also helped by Sunil Menon, who was the show’s choreographer. Preethi’s attire was inspired by the fusion of Indian designs and the Egyptian queen Cleopatra, who was a dark skinned powerful queen of her time.

It was important to me to end of the show by stressing that “we have to rid ourselves with the pathological obsession of associating beauty to fair skin; [How] in a country with so many different skin colours we have to appreciate the beauty in each colour.” So all that said, all you lovely readers please go and “Be Audacious” in your lovely skins.