Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Nikhil Thampi - A Candid Interview with the Designer of the Moment

Fashion in India gets a jolt of new-age and quirky elegance, an element of daring originality–thanks to Nikhil Thampi. Yes,with his incredible talent and inventive approach, he is the man of the moment in the fashion industry in India. A psychology graduate, with no formal education in design, he has definitely proved that one doesn’t understand or interpret fashion by simply studying in a design school, it is about knowing, embracing and expressing your innate creativity, which is unique to you.
From red carpet events to fashion magazine editorials and ad-campaign, Nikhil’s creations are everywhere now-a-days, which is almost becoming a sartorial delight in itself. A host of celluloid beauties, Maduri Dixit, Kajol, Vidya Balan (undoubtedly one of her best look), Sonam Kapoor, Anushka and Chitrangada to name a few have worn his designs with great élan. There is no iota of doubt, the man has firmly established himself and is at the top of his game, and he knows it too - devoid of any arrogance.During my interaction with him, I realised that Nikhil’s humility and effortless charisma comes from his strong sense of direction and belief in his creative abilities. In this exclusive interview with Stylefluid Trendz, Nikhil Thampi gives us an insight into his creative vision, success and much more.
Stylefluid Trendz: You did not study fashion in a design school, rather you are a psychology graduate. How did your fashion adventure begin?

Nikhil: Such is life, isn’t it [pause]…never goes the way we plan it. I was always intrigued to learn human behaviour, hence psychology. After graduating I was roped into my family business of aviation. While getting used to the trick and trade of the business, a close friend decided to debut at LFW and I was emotionally blackmailed to help her set up, that was my first step in fashion. I knew I was always inclined to arts and fashion but never thought I would make this my career… (a secret I wish to share I ain’t too sure yet ssshhh…) [smiles]. Seeing my keen interest and passion towards fashion, family and friends were after my life to give this career a shot…they quoted my “creative itch” needs to be satisfied and that’s when I applied to gen-next at LFW and out of 900 odd applicants only 8 were selected and I was one of them.  
"I clicked on it out of curiosity and started reading through his biography, the first line read, "he was known for his STYLISTIC INDEPENDENCE" and I was sold to his story".

Stylefluid Trendz: How did your fashion adventure begin? Do you bring in an element of psychology to your design philosophy/principle?
Nikhil: Partially mentioned in the first question….
Besides that, I give human and human emotions a forefront in everything I do and also had to inculcate the same trait when it came to fashion. I believe and strongly follow a simple mantra, “it’s not about feeling the fabric, it’s about fabricating ones feelings.” So, yes psychology helps me to a large extent to give my stylistic independence the right shape and form.
 Stylefluid Trendz: Your Resort /Cruise 2013 collection was inspired by Richard Artschwager’s art work.  I am inquisitive to know, how was your interest in exploring the boundary between art and fashion originally sparked? Was it a challenge to translate art into wearable fashion, especially in India?
Nikhil: Well, it was one fine morning that I was at ease and thought of catching up with what’s happening around the world, that’s when I stumbled upon an article of the demise of an artist par excellence, Richard Artschwager, all I saw was a thumbnail which caught my eye. I clicked on it out of curiosity and started reading through his biography, the first line read, “he was known for his STYLISTIC INDEPENDENCE” and I was sold to his story. Nothing extraordinary about his life but his ideologies, his life style, his personality traits very much matched to that of mine and then I saw his art work, mesmerised I was with the dominant use of straight lines, two tone colour palate, the clean and crisp work everything inspired me to a large extent. I had already conceptualised a couple of looks prior to reading about him but it just fell right in place and that's when I thought of giving him an ode via my collection. 
Was it difficult to translate his vision, no not really!!! I didn’t lose myself in the bargain yes I added a little bit of him in my vision which paid off to a large extent.

"fun, fierce, comfortable in her skin, a man in the man’s world, experimental, overtly emotional, die hard romantic, would compile to be the IDEAL NT Woman"

Stylefluid Trendz: What have been the key drivers behind your success within such a short span of time? What did you do differently?

Nikhil: Honestly, I don’t think so much…I just do what I wish to do [smiles].Every individual has a medium to express themselves, some speak it out, some dance it out, some write it out and here am I, this is me and I am expressing.
I do what my heart says and not what my head orders.So I guess the INDEPENDENCE, being INDIVIDUALIST and being ORIGINAL are the key drivers behind my journey so far….Success is still a long way.

Stylefluid Trendz: How would you describe your design vocabulary?
Nikhil: Well I love volume, I love drama, I love the oomph factor but to top it all I love simplicity… so one would always see basic, fuss free, statement clothing from my label.

Stylefluid Trendz: Who do you think is the ideal Nikhil Thampi (NT) woman?

Nikhil: [laughs]… a woman with well fitted denims, a boyfriend shirt, red lips, geeky glasses, messy hair and flats is the ideal NT Woman.But then if I got to describe her in adjectives…fun, fierce, comfortable in her skin, a man in the man’s world, experimental, overtly emotional, die hard romantic, would compile to be the IDEAL NT Woman…. Ahhh...isn’t this like telling a child there is no Santa Claus [laughs].

Stylefluid Trendz: You are one of those very few designers in the country, designing for both men and women. What do you have to say about men’s fashion in India?

Nikhil: To my surprise there is a diversity of thinking between cities when it comes to men’s fashion. Yes, men’s fashion is dwelling, there is a lot of awareness being spread about men’s wear. Men today are breaking the cliché and daring to experiment. When we talk about fashion, which is astonishing, said that, men in Delhi are way more receptive to experimental stuff as compared to men in Bombay. The geographical difference amuses me but then it’s the change of thinking too I guess. 

Stylefluid Trendz: As a new entrant, what would be your advice to aspiring designers?

Nikhil: PLEASE FOLLOW YOUR HEART and not the worldly trends, be a trendsetter not a trend follower…. Be original, be real, be emotional and you will be accepted with open arms. 

Stylefluid Trendz:
What’s next for you?

Nikhil: I have got a lot in the pipeline. Ideating for Winter Festive where I will be showing my first ever semi bridal wear.Along with that I am also working on a Bollywood film, which for me, is a dream project, with a dream film maker and dream star cast. Also expanding and channelizing by distribution to a large extent.

And, praying that I keep being showered with all the love and appreciation.



  1. This one's fabulous!Looking forward to see more of his designs

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