One is a fashion designer, the other has a background in engineering. Together, the sister-duo Monika and Nidhii run a designer label that focuses on offbeat themes, researching international trends extensively and finding a way for them to enter the Indian realm.
Their sustainably handcrafted winter-festive collection Zia is a nod to Awadh’s rich and still relevant legacy. And with it, the ladies are out to “usher in an era of unhurriedness”. Why must being ‘busy’ be glorified?
Based in Delhi, Monika Chaudhary, 34, loved styling different outfits as a child, so studying fashion design at National Institute of Fashion Technology was the natural choice for her. In 2006, she launched her own label, and was later joined by her sister, Nidhii, who brought in her technical expertise and spearheaded the process of strategically positioning the brand.
“I always could sense the potential behind Monika’s designing sensibilities and believe she can create something different and fresh to present to the world. I decided to join her in 2012,” says Nidhii, 36.
Over the years, the label has grown and is now donned by the likes of Bollywood personalities and fashionistas, from Sonakshi Sinha, Vidya Balan, Swara Bhaskar, Aditi Rao Hydari, Kriti Sanon and Dia Mirza, to Pooja Hegde, Mira Rajput, Nusrat Barucha, Manushi Chhillar, Anaita Shroff Adajania and many more.
Monika and Nidhii are known for transforming regular Indian wear into fusion wear that can be worn in different ways. They also invest much time and resources into fabric development. Having showcased their label at Lakme Fashion Week, the sisters realised that a strong sisterly bond makes for a strong brand. “We are very different and at the same time have similar goals in life as individuals and that is our biggest strength,” they affirm.
This season, Monika has looked at international go-to trends like jackets and larger-than-life couture outfits and colours, and incorporated them into the bridal lehenga. “With Indian embroideries and a contemporary presentation, we give it a modern fairytale twist,” she explains.
She gives the example of a look from the Zia collection that incorporates traditional Indian mirror embroidery and the centuries-old craft of chikankari in versatile pieces that can be later utilised as separates and clubbed with party wear. “Our embroideries keep you connected to tradition in the most soulful way,” she adds.
Mostly monotone in palette, the garments are inspired by the luxurious slowness that characterised the artistic pursuits of the Awadh period. “The clothes exhibit an undeniable craft, process and warmth that can be found in the art and architecture of the Awadhi dynasty,” the label’s collection note describes.
“Our label is for strong girls who are very sure about their individuality and cherish their inner self,” explains Nidhii. The new collection includes light-as-air kurtas, shararas, mirror-work cholis and voluminous lehengas.
“The essence of it is about making something that embraces your body, rather than overpowering it,” the designers sign off.
Photography: Omkar Chitnis
Creative direction and styling: “Who Wore What When”
Hair and makeup: Pratiksha Nair
Jewellery: Surbhi Didwania
First published in the Jan-Feb 2019 issue of eShe magazine