My top 10 inspirations to design – Roopal Vadgama

Nature: The embroidery from our SS19 fusion-wear evening collection references poetry about nature at night. We have used silver foil appliqué, a traditional Indian hand embroidery technique called ‘gota’ and chain-stitched geometric floral motifs in silver, mint and peach on an analogous colour scheme. The embroideries are inspired by evening shades. A sense of focus arises when I am surrounded by several shades of green. I love the freshness and exuberance nature brings, which makes the constant anxiety of life suddenly disappear.

TED Talks: New ideas continuously inspire me and feed my curiosity. I am particularly drawn to human behaviour, science and technology. One of my favourite TED Talks is Brene Brown’s Power of Vulnerability. It is hilarious, thought-provoking and one I continually return to watch. It changed my perception of what it means to be unguarded. The ideas themselves are fascinating and definitely worth spreading, but also, the presentations are emotionally and mentally engaging.

Coffee shops: I enjoy people watching. I love sipping on green tea, watching as personalities emerge between conversations being had and drinks being ordered. I can sit for hours as people come to complain or to brainstorm with giddy whispers. It is in this soothing atmosphere where characters come to life and stories unfold.

Books: I love flipping through journals in search of inspiration for my collections. I can become lost between memories, the myriad of stories and be able to step into someone else’s shoes to see the world through their eyes. I was intrigued by Lorna Tressider’s experiences in Kutch. Notably, her travel-log, Golden Threads provided inspiration for my 2017 collection. Raahi, meaning ‘traveller’ was a collection influenced by nomadic embroideries. One of my most loved classic pieces is our cream georgette suit; the beige and cream tones reflect Rajasthan’s dusty, sandy streets and the Thar desert.

Museums and galleries: On a quiet Sunday afternoon, you can find me in an art museum somewhere losing myself between installations and artwork. I love to explore paintings from various eras, countries and styles to increase my perspective. Museums and galleries are a temporary departure from the real world. Some are a space to engage with real things in a way that’s experiential, while others are portals to a past.

Early mornings: This time of day has a concentrated essence of wherever you are. Where I am, it smells wet, green and comforting like your favourite blanket. I love being awake with no sound, but birds chirping and an ever-so-slight morning glow overhead, while the lazy sun opens its eyes for a brand new day. There is something innately inspiring about getting work done while the rest of the world sleeps. A morning routine makes me feel energised and peaceful. Every day is a new day, and you can take it anywhere you want it to go.

Exploring new things: I used to find it terrifying to try new things. But in the last few years, I’ve grown a curiosity to face the unfamiliar. My zest to keep learning has opened up my mind to new experiences. When I consciously get out of my comfort zone, I understand the world and people a little better. I take inspiration from seeing new ways of doing things or discovering something when I least expected it. When I focus on getting over my fears, I am reminded to be gentle and to appreciate every small milestone.

The elderly: I have been taught that caring for those who once cared for us is one of the highest honours. Our best educators are people who have gone before us. My maternal grandmother was the only grandparent I had the privilege of knowing. Her perspective taught me to slow down, not get lost in our struggles and to truly appreciate life. Twenty minutes would turn into hours listening to her talk about her experiences. I think the greatest true stories ever told come from elderly people talking about their lives.

Music: Dead silence is painfully more distracting for me than listening to music. I vividly remember my dad’s collection of everything from Motown hits to Indian classical music playing in the background. My dad’s varied taste in music has also changed mine. There is something particularly moving in song lyrics, especially sad songs, and the narrative being told through music that I find mesmerising. I automatically associate certain songs with certain moods I am feeling in the day, and this opens up a bucket of creativity.

Architecture: The diamond pattern running through our SS19 collection is inspired by London’s Gherkin building. Ambitious architecture motivates me to draw out of my entrenched habit of thinking. I’m most inspired by waves of architecture, like the gothic, renaissance and baroque buildings of Prague that are known to have formed the elaborate compositions of Mozart and Beethoven in the late 18th century. The sacred spaces of Indian and Islamic architecture show a masterful use of space, harmony, proportion and ornamentation. There are so many layers to the structures. I think that’s what makes architecture so fascinating and truly awe-inspirational.

Roopal Vadgama is a South London-based designer with a self-titled label, designing timeless, contemporary fashion and ethnic wear for women., Facebook, Instagram & Pinterest: @roopalvadgama