Adorning The Glitteratiby Henna Singh
If you've flipped through a fashion magazine in the last year or so, chances are that you've already come across Amrita Singh's work. She is the woman behind the jewelry that is increasingly being showcased by style-makers and trend-setters of the day. Vogue, InStyle, Glamour, Elle, O, W - they've all featured her work and considered it worthy to display in their glamour pages.
Amrita Singh? A young woman who has been dreaming of this day since she was a child - that is, when she herself would be one of the dazzling stars of the fashion industry.
Born in India, and moving to the U.S. at 16, Amrita Singh was always cutting out pictures from fashion magazines and following the latest trends. Though she didn't know what she exactly wanted to be when she grew up, she knew that somehow, somewhere she would be involved in fashion.
Fast forward two years to when Amrita graduated from high school. She decided to go to New York's Fashion Institute of Technology for four years and graduated with a Bachelor's degree. Armed with a fresh outlook and a yearning to break into the trade, Amrita applied and was accepted in the executive training program at Bergdorf Goodman, one of the more upscale department stores in America. Working for Bergdorf was perfect for Amrita because it gave her an opportunity to see both sides of the retail world; on the job, she was able to freely interact with customers and designers alike.
At Bergdorf, Amrita was responsible for putting on fashion shows and liaising with industry leaders. While organizing an event for Oscar de la Renta one year, she had the chance to meet the Man himself who, it turned out, was impressed with her work. He offered her a job.
Thus, she became an account executive for one of the most renowned and established figures of the glitterati industry. It was during her stint with Oscar that Amrita began to toy around with the idea of starting her own fashion line.
She was on a trip to Rajasthan where she had a chance to study Mughal jewelry from her new perspective. She was attracted by their formulations, and thought it might be nice to have a set of tunics (or kurtis) that similarly had semi-precious stones on them. Though the line sold well, Amrita found people saying to her: "We wish we could buy jewelry that could match this!"
So she designed a line of jewelry using similar sensibilities. At the beginning, the line was sold exclusively at Bergdorf Goodman; each piece was unique and handmade. The most common refrain that she heard from that point on was: "Wouldn't it be great if this jewelry was more affordable?"
Amrita realized that not only was there was a hunger for quality jewelry, but also for creations that didn't cost an arm and a leg. So, instead of waiting for someone else to copy her designs, Amrita decided to market her own "knock-offs".
She went back to the drawing board and designed yet another line using semi-precious stones. In her third year, finding that the line had taken off instantly, she expanded her collection once more and added another called "Bangle Bangle" that focused just on bracelets. Success was inevitable - after only three years from her first launch, her jewelry was now being carried by more than twenty of the top stores and chains.
When asked how she designs her pieces and what makes them different, Amrita says that she tries to put a modern twist on whatever she tackles. If she knows that a certain piece might have been done with pearls during the Mughal period, she experiments with shells ... and ends up creating a completely new line altogether. If she's doing a more modern piece with diamonds, she tries rose-cut diamonds instead of a more updated cut just to make the jewelry harken back to the days of yore. The jewels that she selects bring the pieces alive: the attempt is to make them more fun and not as serious. Ultimately, her creations are light and wearable with anything from saris to jeans.
That the line is doing so well is ample proof that there is indeed a niche for jewelry inspired by the coming together of East and West. It appears to be Amrita's biggest strength: that she understands her audience well and somehow manages to connect it with her own roots.
The result is ... magical!
Conversation about this article
1: simranjeet singh (Mohali, India), February 26, 2007, 11:33 PM.
nice article.. thanks !!