"If money can't buy happiness, I guess you'll just have to rent it."-from This is the Life, Weird Al Yankovich
While surfing the web, you can rent a Hermes handbag, a Prabal Gurung mini dress and a copy of Blue Valentine, so why not a new designer Indian outfit for your cousin's wedding? Chicago gals Swathi Narra and Swapna Chandamuri thought the same thing after getting five Indian wedding invitations in three months and wondering, "What the heck are we going to wear?" That's how Luxemi.com was born. Think of it as if Net-a-Porter and Rent the Runway were to have a South Asian fashionista love child. The website specializes in chic Indian clothing and accessories that can be borrowed for a specific event or purchased for your own personal wardrobe. The name Luxemi plays off of the combination of luxury and Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess that embodies beauty, grace and charm. The site launches to the public this week. Pink Rickshawhad the pleasure of speaking to founders Swathi and Swapna to learn more.
PR: What are some of the designers we'll find on the site now and in the future? Do you have any personal favorites?
SN: Currently, we feature lines from Satya Paul, Kisneel by Pam Mehta, Nikasha, and Wild Orchid. I love all of them! I will say that I'm obsessed with everything we have from Nikasha by Nikasha Tawadey. She just gets it. Her clothing is festive and beautifully tailored but shows a certain amount of restraint. She knows that you don't need 1000 crystal stones on a blouse to make it stand out. In the future, you might see lines from Anita Dongre, Anand Kabra and many more. You'll just have to keep checking back with us.
SC: I love the romance and drama of Pam Mehta's Kisneel line--uber feminine, flirty, and flattering. Additionally, we scoured India to find stand-out pieces from emerging designers and local karigars(craftsmen). I have so many favorites that really round out the Luxemi line including the navy bell sleeved salwar with zariwork (the silhouette is super flattering, pictured left), the purple ombre saree with aria pitta work (the detailing is truly remarkable, pictured below), and the brocade salwar with cutout applique (simple elegance at its best, pictured above).
PR: What are some of the biggest trends in Indian clothing this spring?
SN: The anarkali style salwars are still going very strong and we're seeing a lot of muted/neutral colors which I'm personally very drawn to. The very traditional ethnic motifs and prints are always in fashion and there are a lot of variation to choose from on the runways.
PR: How do you think Western runways are influencing Indian fashion and vice versa?
SN: I think Western and Indian fashion both draw from each other at different times but they don't necessarily mimic what is happening at a given time. Color blocking is huge from the Western runways for spring but that hasn't translated to Indian fashion...yet. Of course, we Indians love bright color and always use it so maybe it's just the western world is late to the game. We actually have a post on our blog, The Luxe Report, that talks about ombre dyeing in sarees and its parallel in western fashion and beauty.
One feature of the site that may appeal to busy gals needing to get together a complete ensemble quickly is that Luxemi.com recommends coordinating accessories when browsing for an outfit. The site offers an extensive collection of traditional and modern jewelry.
PR: At Pink Rickshaw, we love mixing in Indian-inspired accessories with western wear. Any suggestions for how to use some accessories from Luxemi with some of your regular wardrobe?
SN: While we definitely carry a lot of traditional ethnic Indian jewelry, we made it a point to also offer other pieces that can be mixed easily into your western wardrobe. We have a pair of sterling silver (gold finish) engraved earrings that go with everything. I wear mine with long boho maxi dresses and they just complete the outfit. The diamond bangles (they come in a set) could easily be worn with any black tie gown to elevate your look.
SC: No fair! Swathi took my answer. I do love those engraved earrings, a fact that my Facebook pictures will attest to, but I also have my eye on this turquoise and white sapphire bracelet that will provide a pop of color and fabulousness to any spring outfit. For some reason, I think of Cameron Diaz when I see it. Also, we have so many necklace sets that really elevate and change the mood of any cocktail dress in your closet. One that my girlfriends especially love is the gold kundan collar.