From a career defining role as launch Editor in Chief of Harper’s Bazaar India, to her work as an international chronicler of fashion trends, Sujata Assomull has long harnessed the power of her own cultural background to become the go-to resource in the industry for commentary on India and the Middle East’s evolving and dynamic markets. Now a mindful fashion advocate and contributing editor for Vogue Business, Business of Fashion and Fast Company, the author of 100 Iconic Bollywood Costumes looks at fashion through that cultural lens and advocates for conscious consumerism at high profile fashion events. Here she speaks to PAKT about the importance of working with craft clusters in India, her favourite fashion era, and what you’ll never find in her wardrobe.
1) Describe your style in 3 words
Easy, thoughtful with a touch of glam.
2) Earliest fashion memory
Wearing a blue pinafore dress with some tinsel wrapped around me as a scarf, just twirling away by the Christmas tree.
3) What’s the most precious item in your wardrobe?
A pink, hand-sequined sari that my mom wore for one of her wedding functions.
4) What’s on your current fashion wishlist?
Some really good vintage finds — especially when it comes to jackets and bags. A swimsuit that flatters, fits and you can actually swim in, like the perfect wrap one-piece by Summersalt. A travel bag that is light, has enough pockets and is durable yet looks chic. I would also like to add one beautiful evening dress or sari to my wardrobe as I have finally have occasions to dress up for.
5) Favourite item in your wardrobe that you will keep forever?
There are so many. My vintage 24 Grey Hermes bag that I recently bought from The RealReal, the Alexander McQueen long dress I first wore to my 40th birthday celebration and of course most of my saris, especially a Tarun Tahiliani ivory, hand-embroidered, pre-stitched sari. I also have quite a collection of costume jewellery and heirloom fine jewellery that has been passed on to me that are all special pieces to keep forever.
6) What is the best fashion advice you have received?
Wear what you feel comfortable in. If it does not feel right, just do not wear it.
7) Who are your style icons?
Diana Vreeland and Maharani Gayatri Devi.
8) If you could have anyone’s wardrobe, whose would it be and why?
My own, as I might not fit into someone else’s.
9) A recent shopping find is
A preloved crop black Versace jacket with a fur collar and chainmail details that I found at a pop-up in Dubai’s Al Serkal Avenue recently — it looks great on jeans, over an evening dress and will also work well on a sari.
10) If a museum asked you to donate one item from your wardrobe that represented you, what would it be?
The Tarun Tahiliani ivory sari previously mentioned.
11) What will we never find in your wardrobe?
Towering high heels — I believe in comfort first and will never wear anything above 70mm.
12) Who would be your dream collaborator and why?
I would love to be able to work with a crafts cluster from India with an international brand like Chloe. Located on the banks of the Gomti in Avadh, Sangraha Atelier’s 40 artisans have been creating authentic craft products since 2015 while Jaisalmer’s Embroidered Fabric focuses on handwoven, hand printed and embroidered fabrics.
13) Tunes to get event-ready to
Something from the 1980s or jazz depending on the occasion you are getting ready for.
14) Top 3 accounts to follow on social media
This list keeps changing. Currently I am loving Amy Odell’s fresh take on the fashion news and stylenotcom’s updates on the industry and of course Iris Apfel — she just reminds you to always have fun with fashion.
15) If you could go back in time, which fashion era would you choose and why?
I think the 1950s were so elegant.
16) Who would you invite to your dream fashion dinner?
Coco Chanel, Duchess of Windsor, Oscar de la Renta, Eva Chen, Pierpaolo Piccioli and Queen Rania of Jordan.
17) What is your go-to outfit?
In the summer, a kaftan. In cooler climes, jeans and a good cashmere — and I always accessorise.
18) Favourite fashion apps
To shop, Matches Fashion and The Outnet. WWD to stay up to date and 1stDibs to lust over vintage finds.
19) Less or More
Whichever you’re in the mood for.