Saturday, September 29, 2007

Designer Spotlight: Seema Anand of Blue Plate Fashion

Blue Plate Fashion specializes in original cotton prints with embroidery and other East Indian flourishes done in modern silhouettes. You’ve probably purchased a Blue Plate skirt or top at your favorite department store or boutique. But the trendy fashion line is branching out with a couture line just in time for the approaching holiday season.

During New York Fashion Week Spring 2008, I spoke with Seema Anand, Blue Plate's head designer, inside the fashion house's exotic showroom. The gracious designer tells me that the showroom, which has a gorgeous antique swing from India as its centerpiece, is modeled after the colorful and vibrant city of Little Jaipur.

Here are the highlights of our chat:

Question: Tell me about your couture line and what differentiates it from the regular Blue Plate fashion line?

Seema Anand: The regular line is mainly prints and 100 percent cotton and the couture line is satin and embroidery detailed work with crystals. The silhouettes are similar and the only difference is fabric and the embroidery, which makes it more special and slightly more expensive. I don’t see a big difference though. Couture is something you wear in the evening and special occasions but the customer is the same for both lines. The couture line is priced reasonably, even though we call it couture. The line retails from $75- $300. The line is for the holidays and evenings. The contemporary bride could wear the whites and the shorter dresses instead of a traditional gown.

Q: Did you have trends for 2008 in mind?

SA: Silhouettes have to be with what’s happening in the mainstream market. There was a lot of talk about the bubble dress and dresses with an empire waist, so we incorporated that in the line. We used crystals on the chest and neck area to make it special. I remember when we used to do a lot of tulle skirts and one of the magazines used the tulle mini-dress for a prom dress. They took it to the next level because girls were so sick of wearing the basic prom dress and that’s when this trend came about. When you have modern girls who don’t want to look like everyone else, give them modern shapes. And that same thing could be used for other special occasions and weddings. The couture line is for a customer who’s looking for something different and doesn’t want to wear traditional pieces.

Q: Tell me about Blue Plate's accessories line.

SA: There’s a jewelry line and turbans and scarves. The jewelry is handcrafted as well. It’s not very pricey but it’s very special. There’s a lot of bling. It’s great for clubbing and eveningwear because it’s glitzy and has great colors made from Austrian crystals. It retails from $35 - $300. It’s quite unique for the price.

Q: What designers have you been inspired by?

SA: My biggest inspiration has been Jean Paul Gautier. I loved the collection he did with the tattooing that became popular. A lot of his inspiration comes from different cultures and he does a lot with mixed media. Christian Lacroix and Balenciaga do a beautiful job. I also love the way Diane von Furstenberg has come back – it’s fabulous.

Q: What’s next for Blue Plate?

SA: We’re hosting a white and gold party in October to launch our white line of dresses. We want to have our own Blue Plate store within department stores and we are launching a website in India. I spend half of my time in India. The young girls there are starved for fashion. It’s a great time to be there. Everything is new and business is booming. With the accessibility of computers, girls are able to see what’s happening in the fashion and celebrity world. They love American fashion.

Q: What’s your advice for up-and-coming fashion designers?

SA: [Fashion is] very glamorous on the surface, but it’s a lot of hard work. You have to bring something new every season. You can’t do a line once and disappear. Keep turning out new work and good designs. And stand behind your [fashion] line.