Standing Ovation

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Opposites attract.

Ask Royce Pappachan (23) and Ekta Hoora (21).

If he trips on rock, she sashays to old Hindi classics.

If he’s skilled in computers, she’s a trained fashion designer.

“We are always arguing and correcting each other,’” says Hoora. But ask Pappachan what he feels about her, and he coos, “She’s purr-fect.” And Hoora cuts in, “I am adjusting. Will take him as he is.”

But that’s not how they think about Ovation, the brand of designer womenswear they launched three months ago at 100 ft and Kahawa in Bangalore. “We sit together and bounce off ideas,” says Hoora. “Usually, the ideas happen when we are choosing fabrics for our collection.”

Their monsoon collection defines it all. From sequenced belts and cotton white drawstring kurtas to cotton toggled shirts and cotton white embroidered skirts, their brand of fashion keeps evolving over time. Says Hoora: “For our festive collection in September-October, the collection will be more vibrant… maroons, greens and mustard. Right now, it’s variations in black and white.”

Their present collection is divided into Day and Night. Day comprises shirts in soft, subtle neutrals like beige and ivory. “There is a strong emphasis on technique,” says Hoora. “Layers and pin tucks give the garments a Zen-like tonal simplicity with strong surface textures. The emphasis is subtle with shimmering beadwork. The look is summery, cool and breezy.”

Night is a combination of stark black, mist-like georgette worked with metallic accents like sequins and beads. “It’s a bold look which requires minimal accessories by way of jewellery,” says Hoora. “Think exotic, when you think of this collection.”

The design harmony has worked well for them. They are also selling their clothes at Amethyst in Chennai and Purple Porcupine in Mumbai. Though, academically, only Hoora is qualified to lead the label. She has done a course in fashion and apparel from Vogue Institute of Fashion Technology, and Pappachan is a diploma in computers. “I can put my mind to anything and make it work,” he says. “I could get inspired by a person walking down the street. It could be the design, colour or even fabric.” (If you spot a few clothes that seem unisex, it’s Pappachan at work.)

Come October and the twosome is launching women’s shoes and bags. But why not for men? Says Pappachan: “Men are very restrictive and women are more experimental and since women prefer embroidery more than men, we are concentrating more on them.”

And the designs are not run-of-the-mill. “No piece repeats itself,” says Hoora. “We are not into assembly-line export production of garments, so the effort we put in is far more.”

Which is why, their garments are priced on the higher side: between Rs 800 and Rs 5,000. “Much of our clientele is over 30 years,” says Pappachan. “There are very few youngsters buying out stuff.”

Quality is assured. “We pre-shrink cotton before making the garment, so the customer doesn’t come back saying the shirt has shrunk,” says Hoora. “We make sure the detailing and finish is top quality.”

The twosome plans to eventually open a fashion boutique of its own in Goa.
But how did the two come together? “We met at a common friend’s party and realised we shared many things in common,” says Hoora. As in? “Both of us are outgoing, love music and dance and are friends for the past five years, despite many ups and downs in our life.”

Royce Pappachan & Ekta Hoora
He’s done a diploma in computers and she’s done hers in fashion and apparel
Jointly run Ovation, a women’s designerwear label
Sell their clothes at 100 ft. and Kahawa
Intend to eventually open a fashion boutique in Goa

(Published in City Reporter, 2003)