Of the four cupboards in their bedroom, Pia Pauro has three while her husband, restaurateur Andrea Aftab Pauro, makes do with one. Of course, the four lofts above the cupboards belong to Pia and she uses them to stock her winter stuff. A large chest in the room holds her accessories, another one outside the room, her shoes, and two cupboards near the terrace a floor above hold her Indian clothes and more shoes. Yet, when the 34-year-old designer walks into the room post noon with her two-and-a-half-year-old son, she looks like any other mom who has just picked up her child from school. Pia is wearing a floral-print, knee-length cotton dress with gold kolhapuris, her hair is tied in a ponytail, and her Fendi denim handbag looks well-worn. “In summers and during the daytime especially I live in dresses. I love the bohemian look and am most comfortable in it,” she says.
Pia, who studied fashion management at the London College of Fashion, has been dabbling on and off in the Indian retail market since 2003 and recently launched her label Pia Pauro, which she retails out of Ogaan in New Delhi and Mumbai, and her store Rockabella in Gole Market, New Delhi. She tells us why jersey and cashmere are her fabrics, what her greatest fashion luxury is and what has changed with Delhi girls when it comes to style. Edited excerpts from an interview:
How different is your day look from your out-on-the-town dressing style?
Daytime is usually about dresses in summer, Patiala salwars with a T-shirt or a ganji, kurta with lycra pants. I have two small children and I have to visit my workshop (a garment- manufacturing unit), so I like to wear clothes that are comfortable. I prefer the skinny look rather than the voluminous one, that’s why jersey is one of my favourite fabrics. In the evening, my look is more edgy. I am not into the glam red-carpet gowns kind of clothes. I like jersey outfits with geometrical prints, or dresses with big shoulders, silhouettes that are unusual. Sometimes I like in-your-face bling too. My open-toed heels (nowadays she wears her own label Pau Wow) are ultra glam. In winters I am a classic dresser. I lived in Europe while growing up, so yes, I like dressing in overcoats, sweatshirts, pants and boots. I cannot do without cashmere. It helps me avoid wearing six layers in winter, which I seriously detest. Rugby by Ralph Lauren and J Crew’s amazing Italian cashmere lines work well for my family.
And Indian wear—do you like bling there as well?
I prefer a Kanjeevaram or French chiffon sari to an elaborate designer sari. A lot of my saris are hand-me downs from my grandmother and I end up using the borders of old saris on new saris. I am fond of gota borders. I like Anamika and Sabyasachi.
Four cupboards and four lofts—have you ever thrown anything you have bought?
I like to shop...from anywhere. And I still fit into most of my old clothes. So do I throw things out? Rarely. I am a collector of clothes. The older an outfit gets, the more vintage its design is. I like that and do not believe that an outfit which has seen one season must be discarded.
Colour burst: (clockwise from top) Plumed accessories are Pia’s favourite; a Pia Pauro waistcoat; a vintage Prada dress she has had for a decade; Pia has two cupboards full of shoes, cuffs and bracelets; she likes chunky necklaces; and Pia with her greatest fashion luxury—two in-house tailors. Photographs by Priyanka Parashar/Mint
What is your greatest fashion luxury?
In-house bespoke tailoring. My mother-in-law has always had in-house tailors and when I got married I was quite amazed to find not one but two of these guys working out of the house. My husband gets his linen shirts and breeches stitched by them. My kids’ clothes are also stitched here sometimes and mine are altered or fitted as and when I need.
You said women in Delhi have started dressing differently from when you first moved here about 10 years ago. How?
A lot has changed. I lived in Mumbai as a little girl and Mumbai has always been a lot more happening. When I first came to Delhi after living in London and Switzerland, I felt restricted. I had to dress in a certain way around male servants, had to be a little more conservative. I used to think 10 times before wearing anything revealing. The choice was to do what the Romans do when in Rome or stand out like a sore thumb. Today, I feel everyone around me has gotten that much more naked. Rule-breaking is happening, hemlines are getting shorter for all ages, there is pressure to look a certain way. Besides, everyone I know is invited to six dos almost every day of the week. People are going out so much more—you have to look good, dress the part.
Four drawers are full of accessories—you really like add-ons, don’t you?
My accessories drawers are my daughter’s favourite playground. She has so much fun when she is allowed a free hand. But yes, I love necklaces, cuffs, earrings. I love feathers and can never resist any accessory with feathers. And I usually wear only one feather earring in one ear.
I shop for accessories from everywhere—Phuket, Shanghai, Europe and even Hanuman Mandir in Delhi. They have some of the best bangles and cuffs in town. I am a hoarder of sorts and some of the pieces have been with me forever.
Which looks cannot go wrong this season?
Go for the African look—clothes with beadwork, outfits in warm tones like mustard, pink and orange. Floral prints are huge. You can’t go wrong with maxi dresses and jumpsuits.