Meet the Queen of Kitsch – Nida Mahmood!

If you are a fashion freak, love quirky prints and colors then you would definitely know about the Indian ‘queen of kitsch’, designer Nida Mahmood. The designer who made a debut with her eccentric collection in the Gen Next category at the Lakme India Fashion Week in 2006, has come a long way since then. You can spot her clothes on various celebrities or see an article or two on in any publication. But Nida is a lot more than just about glamour. To find out, I interviewed her at her Shahpur Jat studio in New Delhi.

The moment you enter Nida Mahmood’s studio in Shahpur Jat, you cant help but notice how much does it speak in volumes about the designer herself. The place is vivid with quirky prints and colors that you almost get lost in, while climbing the stairs to the studio. As I enter the studio, I am greeted by Nida’s assistant who guides me, to what I suppose is their office. After few minutes, Nida Mahmood appears. Wearing a tasseled maroon necklace over orange sleeveless top and black waist coat jacket, with denims, you cant help but notice how nonchalantly stylish she is. She apologizes for making me wait, and leaves me taken aback by her humility. Since I am keen on not boring her with the same old questions, I start with the question that had genuinely got me curious. Nida is known not only for her quirky style but for her writing and painting skills too. When I ask her, how does she manage to keep all the sensibilities of a painter, a writer and a designer in one person. She answers with a giggle and says ‘Yes I always joke about how I have multiple personalities!’ Talking on a more serious note she says, she believes in constantly pushing herself to do better and she is often surprised by herself, when realizes so much more she can do. When she tells me nostalgically, how she started her label in a single room, with savings of few months from her previous work experience, it kind of makes sense, when she says she has pushed herself towards excellence everyday.

The room in which we are sitting speaks a lot about Nida Mahmood and her style. Not only does it have props from her very first show at Lakme Fashion Week ‘High on Chai‘, but is also full of New India Bioscope’s Co. merchandise, which as a matter of fact, is not just another label that is co-owned by Nida Mahmood and her friend and colleague Raul, but also serves as a corpus for those artists who had long lost their livelihood gained from painting the film posters after the revolution came in form of printing machine. Explaining what inspired NIBC, Nida tells, ‘The story of how NIBC came into being is quite interesting. One day Raul and I just happened to spot these rugged, old hand painted film posters. We were just looking at them and wondering how beautiful they were and how this art has completely vanished now. Just then an idea struck us, and we thought about how could we implement the lost art into our fashion sensibilities. And thus began the research, we were surprised to know that these artists who were completely dependent on their art for their bread and butter, were now struggling to even making their ends meet. That only strengthened our will to go ahead with the idea but also motivate us to help these artists gain their livelihood back through what they did best. And that’s how NIBC came into existence.’ NIBC’s popular merchandize includes accessories, furniture and clothes among many other things. Today NIBC is acclaimed for its different school of thought and design and its merchandize are a sure shot hit with the fashion conscious, who love to experiment with something different.

Costing is always one of the important things that are decisive in success of any brand. When asked whether she wants to stay exclusive and stick to a certain niche or does she want to expand more and reach to more people. The intelligent designer quickly understands where am I going with this and that my question is obviously cost based. She answers carefully, ‘If you want to own a NM (Nida Mahmood the label), which is the purest form of what I create, then you might have to pay a certain amount, which might cost a little more than average, but then again its about the art and the people who understand art and the kind of work I do, would happily pay the sum to own a piece from my collection.’ Adding a ‘but’ to that she says, ‘of course I would love to see more people wearing my label, even if they might not understand the intricacies of my art, I would love to cater to those people too and perhaps come with another, more affordable line. In fact most of the designers are already doing it, I might too venture into it soon, but that’s something that’s in the pipeline.’ She refuses to disclose anything further on the same.

With even the biggest designers taking the online route to sell their clothes from different online portals like pernia’s popshop, when asked, if she too looks forward to venture into something same of the kind, she says, ‘Totally! I am always open to experimenting and collaborations, my label is being retailed from a lot of online portals already, and I would definitely like to expand further if I get the opportunity.’ On asked if she ever thinks the competition is getting fierce with young talented designers entering the market every other day and if it ever bothers her. She answers with a confident smile, ‘No it never bothers me, in fact I think it pushes me harder to work better. Also I never like to live in delusion, I always keep myself grounded and think, there might be a lot of others who might be doing even better work than me. So I love to keep a reality check and competition is always welcome!’

She showcased her S/S’14 collection called Bombay Bioscope at the recently concluded Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week, in New Delhi. The collection was critically acclaimed at the fashion week. You can check out the pieces from the collection in the pictures below.

You can know more about her here

Nida Mahmood at her studio in Shahpur Jat
Nida Mahmood at her studio in Shahpur Jat
Piece From Nida Mahmood's S/S'14 collection
Ensemble From Nida Mahmood’s S/S’14 collection
Ensemble from Nida Mahmood's Bombay Bioscope
Ensemble from Nida Mahmood’s Bombay Bioscope

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