Fashion industry veteran Payal Jain’s recently held exhibition, ‘Soul of a Woman’, is an amalgamation of art and fashion and it showcases her three-decade-long journey. At the heart of the exhibition lies Jain’s philosophy— to look at fashion as a form of art with textiles as her canvas. The show displayed her ability to merge materials like metal, wood, paper and bamboo with textiles, craft, embroidery and surface ornamentation, and translate that into clothing of unique shapes, forms and colours.
The exhibition, which was held at the India Habitat Centre in New Delhi from November 4 to 6, featured 30 pieces and each one represented a year of her journey. For example, the collection ‘Forbidden Love’ was inspired by the artist Frida Kahlo. The collection talks about the life of Kahlo, the Mexican revolutionary. The collection is an ode to the painter, the magical surrealist, the feminist, the revolutionary, the lover, the lonely soul. Jain has been inspired by her life and work for over a decade and she resides deep in her subconscious.
From architecture to fashion
Jain’s journey from architecture to fashion was fuelled by her passion for sketching, and her dedication to sustainability was inherited from her father. Her mother is an artist who used to play the sitar when she was growing up. Her parents told her to do a basic degree first. She got into a B. Com honours programme at JMC and in these three years, she started exploring other avenues, because she knew this was not something she wanted to pursue. She also pursued her love for sketching. Someone then suggested that she should try her hand in fashion. She started reading about fashion, made portfolios and one thing led to another. Once she had discovered her love for fashion and textiles, there was no looking back.
She studied Fashion Design at FIDM San Francisco, where she learned the technical skills, eye to detail, precision, and perfection that are essential for the fashion industry. She believes there are aspects of both ‘art’ and ‘science’ to fashion. The ‘art’ of fashion is almost intrinsic to one’s personality and one’s creativity stems from it naturally, yet it needs direction. The ‘science’ of fashion on the other hand needs to be learned and perfected; it includes technical skills, eye to detail, precision, and perfection.
A brand that celebrates diversity and inclusivity
Payal Jain is amongst India’s most respected couturiers. The brand was established in early 90s and houses Couture, Pret-a-porter, Home and Corporate design. Jain’s designs are known for their elegance, sophistication, and timeless appeal. She has a loyal clientele that includes celebrities, politicians, and royals. She has also showcased her collections at various national and international platforms, such as London Fashion Week, Singapore Fashion Week, and Dubai Fashion Week.
Jain’s brand celebrates diversity and inclusivity, as she works with various artisans, weavers, and craftsmen from different parts of India. She also supports various social causes, such as women empowerment, education, and environment. She believes that fashion can be a powerful medium to bring about positive change in the society.
A tribute to the soul of a woman
‘Soul of a Woman’ is a tribute to the spirit, strength, and beauty of women. Jain says that the exhibition is a reflection of her own journey as a woman, a daughter, a mother, a wife, and a designer. She says that each piece in the exhibition has a story behind it, and she hopes that the viewers can connect with them on an emotional level. She also hopes that the exhibition can inspire young and aspiring designers to follow their dreams and passions.
The exhibition was inaugurated by the Minister of Textiles, Smriti Irani, who praised Jain for her contribution to the Indian fashion industry. She also lauded her for her efforts to promote the rich and diverse heritage of Indian textiles and crafts. The exhibition was also attended by many eminent personalities from the fields of art, culture, media, and fashion, who appreciated Jain’s work and vision.