Pret -a – Couture

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  • Moodboard for FW15

  • Moodboard for FW15

As one half of the duo that makes up Orkalia, Creative Director, Orchid Ganji’s design process revolves around harmonious unions. Whether it be the brand name, her inspirations or her design process, she finds a way to marry her need for constant change and convenience with her love for investment in hand made luxuries. Sharon Carvalho speaks to the designer who infuses balance into her creations, about her move from Couture to Ready to Wear

How did it all begin?
As a child we moved around quite a bit. Through it all, design and creativity allowed for me to create my own stable grounds in changing situations. I was always encouraged to be inquisitive and think about everything critically. These attributes ended up becoming instrumental in the way I see the world today. A combination of my lifelong travels, different realms of design, and my family’s background in industrial manufacturing pushed me to create something that would resonate the way I believe the world should be seen.

Where does the brand name come from?
Orkalia is a family owned and operated business, and this sense of heritage runs deep in the brand. A lot of times, a brand is a namesake for the designer, but for us that seemed an indication towards the brand becoming a one-man show, which is far from the truth. For this reason, the name is a combination of my own name, Orchid, and my sister’s, Azalia.

Where do you draw inspiration from?
My design inspirations always come from different things happening around me. Often, they are more theoretical thinkings that inspire me to want to visualize a thought in the form of fashion. I think a lot about the state of women, their needs and their wants in society and the sociocultural changes affecting them. There’s also always a discourse between extremes that I like tackling in design form: nature vs. nurture; minimalist vs. maximalist; conceptual art vs. decorative art and so on. Thus, our collections really become a sense of curated storytelling in the form of fashion.

What is your design process?
The thing that takes the most time in my design process is usually the research and development stage as I am always looking to find the most interesting topic to tackle through a collection. There are so many different ways that I brainstorm and put my thoughts on paper – sketches, writings, scrapbooking, embroidery sampling and discourses with Azalia. This makes the design process part of the collection, which we realized we want to share with our audiences. With this in mind, we have our Orkalia Journals, accessible on our website, that we produce along with each season.

You have a full-fledged production house in Dubai, everything from embroidery till final product. How does that benefit your brand?
When we started shifting our focus from Couture to Ready to Wear, we made a conscious decision to want to have everything made in house, overseen by ourselves. It was essential, both because we wanted to maintain the quality the brand has been known for and because we have a very ethical code of conduct. We believe that if the situation permits, priority should always be given to the community that you are directly a part of. This allows us to see the local community to grow with us by giving opportunities not only for jobs but full-fledged careers.

As a brand, you recently moved from Couture to Ready to Wear. What influenced this decision?
As an individual as well as a business entity it is always good to look at the world objectively and comprehend the realities of a changing world. The world of Couture, albeit the most flattering and ideal form of fashion, is no longer the most convenient. Realizing this, we wanted to give our customers a more convenient shopping experience all the while maintaining our standards and integrity as a brand. But as mentioned earlier, we still operate everything within our own production facility, by many of the same craftsmen that were previously working on exclusive couture pieces.