India's premier luxury lifestyle women's magazine
Fashion
July 15, 2018

The Reigning Stars Of Street Style: Pakhi Sen

Text by Sadaf Shaikh. Realisation by Ekta Rajani. Photograph by Uma Damle. Hair and Make-up by Kalpana Sharma and Rozar Lobo, from The Body Shop, New Delhi. Assisted by Ojas Kolvankar and Dhruv Tyagi

The artist provocatively slips in cheeky elements into her dressing and has no qualms crushing cherished style conventions

A 24-year-old artist and illustrator who uses her sculptures, paintings and comics to narrate stories of urban Indian women, Pakhi Sen grew up with a chic grandmother who had a penchant for acquiring unique garments from all over the world. Unassuming at first glance, she provocatively slips in cheeky elements into her dressing and has no qualms crushing cherished style conventions. Referring to her dressing room as a self-caring space where she can enjoy her solitude in earnest, she is often subjected to questions about her bizarre choice of attire and quirky make-up which she brushes off with an infectious laugh.

Tell us a little bit about yourself…
“I’m a 24-year-old artist and illustrator based out of Delhi and Goa. From sculptures to paintings to comics, my work usually narrates tales of urban Indian women and how they negotiate the contradictions of tradition and modernity. I’ve always been interested in fashion to express myself and my ideas, but it has mostly been on a personal level until now.”

Describe your personal style…
“My style is quite eclectic and is often inspired by traditional attires. I take an active interest in the history of printmaking and silhouettes in many Indian states as well as countries where textiles are considered important. Growing up with a pretty stylish grandmother and parents led me to imbibe their interest in collecting unique garments from all over the world. I like to layer and mix-and-match to create looks; I won’t throw away clothes but I will reinvent them in different ways. I also like to balance the feminine and masculine elements in an ensemble, though I usually lean towards the latter.”

How do your sartorial choices liberate you?
“Being an artist, my style is just another avenue to express myself. I don’t feel like Pakhi Sen when I’m dressed in a way that I don’t like. It isn’t really about specific garments; I feel like I could style just about anything to make it fit my taste, but I like the process of putting it together.

The way I assemble my outfits is an absolute mess mostly because I’m a very messy person myself. I can never decide if something is or isn’t me. I think I’m quite childlike in my personality, and that’s how I choose my clothes — my style is always very youthful and fun. I treat dressing up like a 6th-grade art class, preferring to just do random, crazy things most of the time. I’m very easily inspired by people and eras, even outside of the fashion space. If I’m going through an old-school Bollywood phase or working with someone whom I find cool, my style will probably be inspired by them for a while.

I still wear some things I bought when I was 12. Over time, my wardrobe has become a collection of things that I’m very attached to. These clothes have come to define who I am; I think most people around me would recognise me just by my clothes.”

Would you say that you use your sense of style to change people’s perception of you?
“Rather than change people’s perception, I use my style to project the identity I want to. I want my clothes to be a defining characteristic of myself because it’s something I value. I studied sociology and am still interested in the subject. I’m also very vocal about being a feminist. A lot of people think that these things don’t go hand in hand with dressing up or dressing in a specific way. I often get remarks about how much I deck up or why I wear makeup, but I like the idea of owning this space because it’s as much a way of creatively expressing myself as my work is.”

Your own fashion thumb rule…
“Juxtapose the feminine with something masculine. If it’s a fast fashion brand — which I usually steer clear of but sometimes feel weak about — then never wear the garment like it was shown on the poster/mannequin.”

A fashion staple that enhances your outfit…
“I don’t really have a staple as such, but the one thing I wear every day is a lip stain.”

Your signature style…
“A top-buttoned shirt and high-waisted bell bottoms.”

Previous: Shyamli Panda
Next: Tanya Bedi

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