By Puja Gupta
March 15, 2020 (IANSlife) AM:PM’s spring/summer 2020 collection is inspired by the art, pottery, wildlife and culture of Africa. Priyanka Modi, Creative Director, AM:PM, says even though the Africa inspired collection comes in 2020, it has been in the making since 1986 when she first visited the country as a nine-year-old.
IANSlife spoke to Modi to know more about the story behind the collection, the research that went into it and upcoming projects:
What inspired the the collection based on African culture and wildlife?
Modi: Africa was one of the earliest places I explored as a child, and definitely the most magical. Our family went to Kenya for an extensive safari expedition. We went to Masai Marai, Lake Nakuru, Seychelles amongst other places and the memories have imprinted since.
Imagine what it would be like for a nine-year-old to be chasing leopards and antelopes, seeing huge giraffes and elephants bathing in the wild and coming up to our viewing-deck. We even ended up having an elaborate brunch whilst a pride of lions was sitting a few meters from us.
Africa is enrapturing – it draws you in while at the same time shows you how fierce and powerful nature can be. It was also one of the first times I observed how humans and nature co-exist so peacefully. I experienced nature in its most untamed and majestic form and the stories still give me goosebumps.
It was this intense emotion for that land that I wanted to express for a very long time, and through our collection for SS’20 was just got the perfect time to do it.
What kind of influences do we see in the clothes?
Modi: Africa has such a vast cultural narrative that it is not easy to translate everything into your designs. So we picked specific elements – the masks, certain type of artistry, unique motifs from their pottery and reimagined it according to AMPM’s sensibilities.
The colours too were chosen keeping in mind certain indigenous traditions. Colours like tan, steel grey and olive have been picked to depict uniforms that some rangers wear for the safaris. Mustards and pinks were picked from the vivid aesthetic Kenyan women sport in their daily attires.
Then there are geometric motifs that have been derived from the intricate patterns on African masks and ceramic pots. One of the most exciting parts of the collection was the motifs that we created from Tingatinga – a local art technique from Africa – and reinterpreted it through exaggerated shapes of wild animals and a reverse appliqué technique on our garments. Details such as hammered studs and Kodi shells add a touch of playfulness to the collection.
What kind of research did you do?
Modi: I visited Africa in 1986. Three decades have passed since then – the country has progressed and even the fashion industry has evolved. However, one thing that had stayed with me from that trip, and something that I observe even today, is how the local communities take pride in preserving and celebrating their native stories.
Just follow the influencer community in Africa today. You will notice how men and women are adding to the diverse spectrum of modern African fashion by staying true to their indigenous identities. It is so fascinating and there is so much to learn from them. Studying their spirited street culture became our building block for the collection. We had to keep it relevant, fresh, and at the same time, smartly emulate the country’s art and cultural domains.
Building the narrative around the collection was the exciting part. I fished out these journals that my mother made us write every time we travelled. Growing up, I used to find it so tedious – imagine if you had to tell a 9-year-old to write on a holiday! But last year I went up to my mother and thanked her for making us do this. Those three-decade-old diaries had so much material – travel souvenirs, old coins, vintage photographs, feathers even (!) – all of which helped us relive the African safari experience again and again. After all, fashion is about evoking certain emotions and capturing them in our designs.
Do you feel a sense of achievement with this collection?
Modi: An inspiration is like a storm, it starts slowly, somewhere in the back of your conscious, and slowly starts to build into something that then occupies your entire imagination.
So even though we’re doing our first Africa inspired collection in 2020, somewhere this storm was building since 1986.
We decided it was time to bring this to reality sometime early last year. Between ideating and developing new silhouettes, creating and perfecting a color palette, redesigning ancient motifs to feel contemporary, there is a lot that happens before we even stitch the first garment. The entire process, from ideation to the collection hitting the stores is likely to be somewhere between 6 to 8 months.
What comes next?
There is always something brewing in an organization that thrives on creativity. We are currently in the midst of wrapping up our AW’20 collections, since we do two each season. One of them, I can tell you is inspired by a vibrant region of India that we’ve never explored before at AMPM!
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Puja Gupta can be contacted at email@example.com