As She Celebrates 20 years In The Fashion Biz, Nandita Mahtani Talks About Her New Collection ‘Reflect’, Finding Her Voice & Redefining Style

For two decades, celebrity designer Nandita Mahtani has put everything into creating collections that define luxury and refinement. She has steadily built her label, navigating the unpredictable fashion landscape with grace and poise, but this is just the beginning….

By Amber Dias

Nandita Mahtani has been stunning lovers of high fashion since she made her debut as a designer 20 years ago. Her vision and commitment to her craft have led to some unique creations and collaborations with notable personalities like Virat Kholi, Karan Johar, Raveena Tandon and Farah Khan. She recently celebrated her 20th anniversary in the fashion realm with a star-studded launch of her new collection ‘Reflect’. We caught up with her for some insights into her journey thus far and what drives her forward. 

Excerpts from the interview…

Your new collection ‘Reflect’ just launched, can you tell us a little about it and what makes it so special?

‘Reflect’ is a celebration of completing 20 years in the industry, so we definitely wanted it to be special and retrospective. That’s when we knew that we were going to ‘Reflect’ back into our journey of fashion, design, and our signature styles from the glamorous and chic line of resort cocktail wear! 

The launch of ‘Reflect’ marks 20 years since you started in the industry, could you briefly give us a glimpse of what this journey has been like? What would you say are the lessons you have learnt?

Looking back, there have been several pivotal moments in my journey. From the exhilaration of my first fashion show to the thrill of participating in international fashion weeks, each experience has been a stepping stone, shaping my path in the dynamic world of fashion. Collaborating with individuals like Virat Kohli and venturing into diverse categories have added depth to my journey. The constant influx of new ideas and opportunities excites me, serving as the driving force that keeps me motivated and fuels my passion for creativity. What I’ve learnt is that when opportunities knock, you should make the most of it, and keep exploring newer avenues. 

Karan Johar, Virat Kholi, Farah Khan, Raveena Tandon… You have worked with an impressive list of celebrities. What would you say is the most exciting thing about working with them? And what is the most challenging?

I am truly grateful to have had the opportunity to work with an amazing set of personalities throughout the years. The most rewarding aspect of collaborating with them is the freedom they offer, without adding any restrictions to my creativity. And having worked with them for such a long period, now there is mutual understanding and trust when it comes to style and fashion choices. Working with such understanding and easy-going individuals has made the overall experience highly enjoyable, without having any major challenges! 

Would you say that you have a specific design philosophy or approach to design? If so, could you please give us some insight into it?

In my design process, I always envision creating pieces that I would personally wear. The core concept behind my designs is to ensure that the wearer feels confident and comfortable in their skin, while exuding a sense of femininity and allure simultaneously. This also appeals to my target audience of women who embody grace, stature, and femininity.

When I approach design, I draw inspiration from my preferences and style, as I firmly believe in the authenticity and integrity of what I create. Selling a product is not just about aesthetics; it’s about sharing a genuine belief in the beauty and empowerment that each piece can bring to the wearer.

The fashion industry is a competitive one and often driven by trends. How do you keep your brand relevant and stay true to yourself?

One of the most gratifying compliments I’ve received is that the clothing I design is timeless. While we do incorporate trends, we make sure that they align with our brand identity and stand the test of time. It’s incredibly rewarding to witness clients still wearing garments from our collection that were bought 15-20 years ago. 

Your label is known for merging Indian embroidery and textiles with Western silhouettes. What inspired this fusion?

Over the years I have been deeply rooted in the rich heritage of Indian craftsmanship, I am an avid supporter of local craft and embroidery traditions that span more than 1,000 years. Our commitment to these age-old techniques not only connects us with skilled artisans, but also carries forward a legacy passed down through generations. The fusion of Indian techniques like mirror work and zardosi into Western ensembles represents a harmonious blend of Indian and Western aesthetics, making it a true game-changer. This cross-cultural approach allows us to bring the best of India to the rest of the world, presenting a unique and stylish narrative that resonates globally, while preserving the authenticity and craftsmanship of our heritage.

When it comes to creating, you are always pushing the envelope, whether it’s resort wear or exploring motorsport-inspired luxury wear. What would you say drives your passion for experimenting and innovating?

Travel is a big source of my creative inspiration. Whether it’s soaking in different cultures, trying global cuisine, or checking out local art and fashion scenes – it all adds up and somewhere reflects in my designs, style and aesthetics. 

Sustainability is a growing concern in the fashion industry. How do you incorporate eco-friendly practices into your designs or styling choices? 

I’m committed to preserving traditional crafts and staying connected with our skilled artisans who have been with us for years now. We preserve art forms, help their families, and foster growth, which is our way of incorporating sustainable practices. We also prefer using natural fabrics like cotton and silks to add to our sustainability goals.

Designing doesn’t just stop at clothes for you, you’ve also dabbled with interiors. Why did you decide to branch out? And is your approach to interiors the same as clothes or is that a completely different ball game?

In the field of design, creativity knows no bounds, and for me, whether I’m crafting clothes or conceptualizing spaces or designing jewellery, it’s all about the freedom to express creativity. There’s always synergy between the designs – my ideas for clothing often find inspiration in the design of spaces and jewellery, and vice-versa. It’s a dynamic process where each form of art informs and enhances the other, allowing me to create multiple designs that not only reflect the style but also the personality of the client. 

You have claimed your space in the fashion realm, and have achieved so much in the last 20 years. What is that one goal, if there is one, that still eludes you and keeps driving you forward?

I consistently keep setting goals for myself. As long as creativity is alive within me, I’ll keep pushing myself forward. The key is maintaining the desire and passion, and as long as that’s there, I eagerly anticipate continuing with my design journey.

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