Supreeta Singh

Gorgeous fashion designer Nandita Mahtani has legs that can give any professional model a inferiority complex. Tall, blonde, sexy and dressed in a simple black dress, she drew more eyeballs, catcalls and claps than many of her models.
Recently in Kolkata to showcase her resort and evening wear at the Blender’s Pride Fashion Tour 2010, Nandita proudly announced her Kolkata connect. “My father is from Kolkata and we have few relatives here. Jewellery designer Raj Mahtani is one of them. I was here for one of the Indian Premier League (IPL) matches and this is my second visit to the city. I will definitely come back soon,” she says.
Nandita has been travelling for the last few days before landing in Kolkata. Just back from Paris where she went on a business trip, she had been busy with the fashion tour as well. However, she looked relaxed and quiet much like the women she designs for. “My clothes are breezy, feminine and comfortable. I design clothes that I would like to wear myself,” she emphasizes.
Known for her stunning collections, Nandita’s garments cover the two extremes. There are scores of formal evening wear that are ideal for the clubbing and partying. The other range is resort wear that is easy and breathable. She says, “Travelling is a passion. Wherever I go, whether it’s a village, beach, forest or a metropolis I pick up elements that go into the making of my creations. I put them together on the basis of my mood and emotions.”
Apart from her seasonal collections, Nandita caters to a wide base of clients most of whom opt for multi-purpose clothing. The designer loves to mix-and-match her outfits. For example, she says, a tunic dress can be worn as a single piece and teamed up with churidars for an ethnic touch.
“I like clothes that are effortless and can be managed easily. Today, young girls do not mind wearing an off-shoulder dress to a wedding and then move into a nightclub in the same dress. Usually, the older generation sticks to traditional sarees but recently a woman picked up eight heavily embroidered kaftans for a wedding. So you can see there is a shift in what women want to wear,” Nandita reasons.
She also feels women should be careful about what suits them and what does not. “Focus on your best features. Whatever flaws you may have, they can be corrected with the right mix of fabrics, accessories and styling,” she recommends.
Personally, Nandita is addicted to classic colours like white and black. She says that to keep her team happy, she wore a blue dress at one of the fashion shows but now she is again back to black. Her friends have been asking her to wear more colours and she is trying hard to be more adventurous with her own wardrobe.
As a veteran in the profession, Nandita knows all the tricks of her trade. Her designs are available in Paris, London, US, Australia, Italy, Middle East, South Africa and other places. “I am blessed with a wonderful team. I look after the creative part and my team looks after the business. My sister Anu manages everything for me,” she says.
With so much under her belt, Nandita has few words of wisdom for young fashion designers. “Stay true to yourself. It is a very competitive profession. Don’t get too mesmerized by adulation. Focus, instead, on your collection. You are bound to succeed if you have it in you,” she smiles.
One thing that makes Nandita unhappy is the degree of plagiarism in the fashion industry. She fumes, “It’s insane! Step out of my boutique and there are so many small stores that rip off my design and sell it for Rs 200. How can you ever compete with that? My only safeguard is a faithful clientele who value quality.”
Last but not the least, what would recommend for young girls going out on a first date? “Nothing too short or revealing. Even if you are wearing a short dress, then keep the top part covered. For instance wear full sleeves. But if the dress is off-shoulder wear it long. She can put on a blazer also for a classic look. There is a thin line between sexy and cheap, so be careful,” she signs off.