Home is where the fashion is

She has worked with iconic Italian brands — Romeo Gigli, Moschino and Gucci under the creative direction of Tom Ford — and has consulted for Etro, Missoni and Marni in Italy, Lanvin in Paris and Alexander McQueen. With all that, you'd think Sanchita Ajjampur has enough feathers in her cap. But no! A few months ago, the Indian-Italian fashion designer was conferred the prestigious Knight of the Order of the Star of Italy, the second highest civilian honour of Italy, instituted by the Italian government. Today, it recognises individuals who've been instrumental in the 'preservation and promotion of national prestige abroad'.

But let's rewind a bit to when it all started for the Mumbai-born designer, who recently launched her eponymous label of footwear and ready-to-wear apparel. Ajjampur was raised in Austria and educated in the UK and France.

She received a degree in fine arts from Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture Parisienne, Paris, and a master's degree in fashion and technology from the Domus Academy in Milan. "Both my degrees were complemented by valuable internships that gave me the experience to set me on the road," she says.

At different stages of her career, she looked towards particular designers with whom she worked either as an intern or professionally. In the earliest phase, she says she was inspired by Romeo Gigli for his deep appreciation of artistry and heritage. "Likewise, I admired Tom Ford's capacity during his Gucci days to spin the company around with provocative designs that broke the mould. Alber Elbaz withstands the ebb and flow of fashion while developing his own ideas over time. He has an astonishing knack for deconstructing a look and reworking the different fragments in unexpected ways — even purposefully integrating unfinished elements," she shares.

Her inspirations come from her past. Having grown up and lived in Vienna, Milan and Paris — where one can admire some of the finest masterpieces in world-class museums from every era and artist — her travels and her nomadic childhood fuelled her fervour for art, architecture and design. Her wide exposure to different cultures has left her with lasting impressions and has broadened her horizon. "My mother's style and outlook toward life constantly inspire me," says Ajjampur, who shuttles between Bengaluru, Milan, Paris and London.

The core ideology of brand Sanchita is "a modern nomad", taking you on a voyage of discovery. "A 'Sanchita' wearer," she says, "is a stylish person who can balance individuality with conformity, has a strong sense of self and is comfortable in her own skin. A collection for me is not just one basic idea. It's about wearability, cut, construction, art and aesthetics."

Thrilled upon having received the Italian honour, she credits the country for helping her "discover myself". "Italy has been a land of bountiful and stunning craftsmanship and learning for me in my career. I feel as though my career has come a full-circle and returned to where I first started, which really gives me a great sense of pride!"

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