The vintage feel and vibrant atmosphere of Portobello finds a fashionable echo in the new line of garments by AM PM (acronym for Ankur Modi and Priyanka Modi). In Chennai, at Evoluzione, for the launch of “Portobello Affair”, which has “elements tooth-combed from the past”, Ankur Modi takes a break from interactions with clients to talk about his collection, design philosophy and mom Anju Modi.
PORTOBELLO HO! It was during a visit to London that we stumbled upon Portobello. Something about the place left a deep impact on Priyanka and me. We wanted to create a line reminiscent of the past, yet so in tune with contemporary tastes.
DESIGN'S IN THE DETAIL There's a lot that's gone into the texturing for this particular line. The cropped/long dresses, shifts and palazzos are perked up with subtle craftsmanship using antique threads. The prints are inspired, the motifs have a feel of the past and there's plenty of hand-pleating.
MOM AND I Exposure to design from an impressionable age helped fine-tune my sensibility. But surprisingly, I opted for Agriculture Engineering and went to Australia for studies. I wanted to specialise in vineyards and also cultivate olives! But when I returned, I was once again consumed by the world of design. The entry was inevitable. I met Priyanka, who had studied fashion in London. The partnership — both professional and personal — was cemented.
INDIANNESS IS ALL Today there are so many mainstream Western brands making inroads into India. It's not easy to compete with them in terms of pricing or factory finish. I feel our Indianness is our selling point. As long as our DNA shows in our designs, we're safe; there can be no competition.
NEW EXPERIMENTS I don't like overdoing the embroidery on a garment. I prefer to keep it simple and let the texturing and the cut do the talking. Laser cuts are in, and I continue to try out variations in foil prints that mom made popular. It's funny that despite new creative efforts, people come back season after season for our chiffon crinkled dress or the black khadi suit! Yes, they are our all-time hits.
WEARABILITY That's always on our radar. Even on the ramp, our clothes are seldom outlandish or over-the-top. Design is about practicality. Only what's wearable makes business sense. Your inspiration can be far-fetched. But how you translate it onto garments has to be sensible.
OVERSEAS MARKET Our label has done pretty well abroad. But I think I understand where my product belongs — India. I don't want to show my clothes in other countries just for the heck of it. The Indian market is huge. Tier two and three cities are opening up real fast. There are so many fashion shows happening in these places. The prospects are encouraging.