Angelique Raina is only 24, but she’s already well on her way to establishing herself as one of India’s fashion power players. She started out consulting luxury brands on their marketing and PR strategy and is currently the brand manager (did I mention she’s 24?) of Morphe, one of the most exciting new design houses to come out of India in the recent past. I chatted to her recently about helming Morphe and what good design really means, and came away super impressed.
What’s your morning and evening regimen like?
Cold water and a bit of Clindac, a topical anti-zit antibiotic in the morning, and hot water and virgin coconut oil as a moisturiser in the evening. I’m kind of weary of chemicals, so I try to stay as natural as possible.
How did you find yourself at the helm of Morphe?
As unglamorous as it sounds, I’m a straight up nerd. I’ve always loved reading, researching and coolhunting. Information is probably my biggest asset. India’s alternative fashion segment is growing, fashion subcultures are developing and internationally, the ethical India brand story is very much in demand. With all of these indicators, I had a very strong vision for Morphe, which the parent company liked. Besides, it was a natural progression from luxury brand marketing. I was keen to work more in production, back end strategy and sales – so when the opportunity presented itself, I consulted with my former boss and we decided that it was a good step.
What’s the best way to tell good design from mediocre design?
It’s funny, I recently asked a few editors and stylists a version of this question for our new website, and everyone seemed to share the conclusion that mediocre design isn’t really the problem, it’s where the idea of what ‘good’ comes from is. A lot of what people think is 'good design' is the choice of someone important wearing it and tweeting and Instagramming it. Good design is actually intrinsic, it’s in the process – but most people don’t understand that. For a lot of consumers, buying is buying from a brand. You’ll buy Elie Saab because of the instantly recognizable empire waist, and for the image, but not because of the technique or the embroidery that’s taken hundreds of hours. As a consumer educating yourself is important, sure, but it’s also on the designer and up to the brand to encourage a different value system.
Who are some of your favourite designers?
I love Miuniku for their palette and fabric choices. I met them at a shoot for ELLE and fell in love with them and their clothes. There’s a very delicate softness in them – both as people and the clothes they create. I love Rahul Mishra for his vision and ability to hold true to Indian traditions and techniques without butchering them and succumbing to the ‘modern twist’. I think there’s something that ties Morphe, Miuniku and Mishra into the same section of the industry, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. There’s just something fresh about their collective aesthetic.
How would you describe Morphe’s aesthetic?
Multicultural and a little eccentric. As an example, the colour palette of our most recent collection is inspired by the American painter Rothko, applied to the Scottish tartan with an Indian technique known as couching. Our customer is a very specific individual – she’s very confident and secure and likes to have fun with what she wears without being constrained by trends or fads.
What’s the best meal you’ve ever eaten in Delhi?
The toro tartare at Wasabi at the Taj Mahal, followed by the sesame spinach.
What are you hoping for in 2015?
On a macro level, I really hope us humans manage to figure out what the deal with the universe is. Personally, I’m excited to start a new consultancy that allows me to work with other brands as well. For Morphe, our new website and e-boutique is up soon, we have a slew of collaborations lined up for the first half, and a new selection of international stores we’ll be stocked in. So I’m generally just super excited to get going and for everyone to come back from their holidays and reply to all their emails.
Have you been anywhere interesting lately?
Honestly, Bombay is really interesting for me as a Delhi-based consumer. I love walking around Colaba and discovering random new stores; I recently found this clothing store called Obataimu. It has this really great exposed, minimal atelier – it gives off a Margiela vibe, which is always rewarding after walking around the more is more streets of Bombay.
As told to Komal Basith. Angelique Raina photographed by Santu Misra.