Fashion

Made with love—Celebrating a decade of péro

Here's makes designer Aneeth Arora's brand péro special

"I have loved péro since the first time Aneeth Arora dropped off a CD (yes, really) of her work at my house at 9am, back in 2007. I was working with India Today at the time, and I had heard of this young designer whose forte lay in quirky handcrafted clothes. I was curious, and I called the reticent Aneeth on her landline. If I remember correctly, she seemed a tad bit surprised that anyone was keen about her work. After initial banter (consisting more of me trying to convince her to show her work) she promised to come by my house the next morning. And so she did, as promised, and dropped off the CD—timed to when I was in the shower—and left almost immediately. I couldn’t meet her, but I have a feeling she did that on purpose.

Aneeth probably doesn’t even remember this, but I think since we are celebrating 10 years of her label péro, a brand that she has skilfully masterminded, it’s about time this be told. Aneeth is one of those rare birds who prefers to be invisible. Earlier this year, ELLE’s fashion director Malini Banerji took the noted style visionary Caroline Issa to Aneeth’s studio in Patparganj in Delhi. Caroline’s eyes lit up at the sight of the atelier, with its giant heart, cute dolls, and kitschy accoutrements punctuating every corner. Overwhelmed by the designer’s extraordinary oeuvre, Caroline asked for a photo with her. But Aneeth politely declined, insisting that her work ought to speak for itself. In this hyperkinetic, Instagram age of chronicling everything including your bathwater, Aneeth is an anomaly who takes pride in not being seen. At all. I couldn’t love her more if I tried, for this reason alone.

The sheer beauty of péro doesn’t lie in its ability to create statement-making clothes, but in its quiet everyday luxury that is classical, practical and flawlessly constructed to appear lived-in. It’s about clothes that are kind to your body, breezy enough for comfort, yet nonchalantly stylish in their craftsmanship. péro is made by someone who is mindful about the importance of touch. It almost feels as though she is sowing up several little dreams on every dress she creates. Everything is handcrafted using pure textiles—Aneeth creates timeless pieces, a curious mix of froth and fantasy, that are unburdened by the mundane notion of trends. Or being on point. Or on fleek. Whatever the kids say these days. You get the drift.

From working with a group of Afghani refugee women on crochet detailing, or with artisans across the length and breadth of our country, Aneeth is creating a modern legacy. I cannot wait to preserve her clothes (which I have now managed to own) for my daughter. It’s the little details that Aneeth adds to the garments that I savour—the kewpie, the lady bug or the little heart. Still, the most vital ingredient that péro has is what we all need in all our lives: humour. And a whole lotta love."

—Supriya David

Designer Aneeth Arora's understated brand péro completes 10 glorious years in fashion. Dressed in their favourite pieces from the label, her biggest cheerleaders tell us what makes these clothes—and their maker—so special.

MITHU SEN - Artist

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The mixed media artist first heard of Aneeth Arora in 2012, when an acquaintance pointed out their matching proclivity for saturated tones and refined accents. Mithu Sen’s first-ever péro outfit was a long, flowing dress and it arrived with another, a gift from the designer that she wore to her first performance at London’s Tate Modern. Fast forward seven years, and all of the artist’s performance outfits are now custom-made by péro. “Her artistic approach of combining various media to form a whole, ties in with mine and I can trust her blindly,” Sen reveals. She remembers the trip to Australia that she took with Arora, who would fossilise small wildflowers inside her diary pages (the flowers would take bloom in her next collection). The designer’s scrapbooks are on Sen’s wish list now.

ON SEN: TULLE DRESS, COTTON TOP; BOTH PRICES ON REQUEST, PÉRO. ALL ACCESSORIES, SEN‘S OWN; PHOTOGRAPHS: ADIL HASAN; HAIR AND MAKE-UP: BLOSSOM KOCHHAR COLLEGE OF CREATIVE ARTS AND DESIGN; STYLING: PUJARINI GHOSH; ASSISTED BY: SIDHARTH MEHTA (STYLING)

BRONWYN LATIF - Designer 

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A chance discovery of an embroidered silk coat at a fashion exhibit in Pragati Maidan in 2012 was how Bronwyn Latif discovered péro. The similarity between her and Arora’s styles—a love for colour, vintage florals and exquisite ornamentation—was immediately obvious to her. This led the Australia-born designer to introduce Arora to two groups of Afghani refugee women, whom she was working with on a self-employment project, in 2013. “They accurately replicated Arora’s lace shawl and are now a part of the much-loved atelier’s formidable handiwork team,” reveals Latif.

 

ON LATIF: ALL CLOTHING AND ACCESSORIES, LATIF’S OWN; PHOTOGRAPHS: ADIL HASAN; MAKE-UP: BLOSSOM KOCHHAR COLLEGE OF CREATIVE ARTS AND DESIGN; STYLING: PUJARINI GHOSH; ASSISTED BY: SIDHARTH MEHTA (STYLING)

MANISHA PAREKH - Visual Artist

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The Delhi-based artist discovered péro almost a decade ago at a fashion workshop at the capital’s Khoj International Artists’— Association. “My work is a lot about drawing and exploring different materials. That’s what makes me so interested in Aneeth’s textiles that she makes from scratch. Each piece has a different texture that gives it a unique character,” says Manisha Parekh. “My first péro—a printed blue shirt—gifted by Aneeth, marked the beginning of our association.” Parekh’s wardrobe now has a section dedicated to khadi uppers and jackets in black, white, and of course, indigo, all from the label.

ON PAREKH: KNIT, COTTON, THREAD NECKLACE AND BRACELETS; ALL PRICES ON REQUEST, PÉRO; ALL CLOTHING AND ACCESSORIES, PAREKH‘S OWN; PHOTOGRAPHS: ADIL HASAN; HAIR AND MAKE-UP: BLOSSOM KOCHHAR COLLEGE OF CREATIVE ARTS AND DESIGN; STYLING: PUJARINI GHOSH; ASSISTED BY: SIDHARTH MEHTA (STYLING)

MADHU SARIN - Psychoanalyst 

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Madhu Sarin is a self-professed hoarder of anything péro. Her infectious energy, fused with her love for bright hues, is perfectly echoed in péro’s whimsical, androgynous aesthetics. “I am probably the biggest collector of péro. I only wear Aneeth’s clothes,” Sarin says. Her closet is filled with baggy shirts, voluminous Turkish pants, loose choghas and vibrant scarves. And it doesn’t stop there: Sarin’s fondness for the designer’s oeuvre extends to her colourful, craft museum-like abode in Delhi’s Golf Links. You’ll find navy-and-brick ikat tiles lining her bathroom and indigo tiles on her kitchen walls, both belonging to Arora’s side projects in décor and lifestyle.

 

ON SARIN: ALL CLOTHING AND ACCESSORIES, SARIN’S OWN; PHOTOGRAPHS: ADIL HASAN; MAKE-UP: KIKO MILANO INDIA; STYLING: PUJARINI GHOSH; ASSISTED BY: SIDHARTH MEHTA (STYLING)

TARANA SAWHNEY - Art Patron

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Delhi-based Tarana Sawhney is a connoisseur of contemporary art. A glimpse at the innovative installations at her Golf Links residence, by celebrated Indian artists like Anita Dube, Jitish Kallat and Mithu Sen, gives that away. This penchant for edgy creativity ties her deeply to the péro aesthetic, which is all about mixing and matching. “péro pieces are works of art. They’re global and yet so intrinsically Indian—they perfectly fit my sensibilities,” she says. A supporter of ethical fashion, Sawhney adores the brand’s fair trade practices. At the recent Venice Biennale 2019 art exhibit, she chose to represent India in a gorgeous sap green skirt and half sari custom-made by Arora.

 

ON SAWHNEY: ALL CLOTHING AND ACCESSORIES, SAWHNEY’S OWN; PHOTOGRAPHS: ADIL HASAN; HAIR AND MAKE-UP: BLOSSOM KOCHHAR COLLEGE OF CREATIVE ARTS AND DESIGN; STYLING: PUJARINI GHOSH; ASSISTED BY: HARSHITA CHOPRA (STYLING)

 

- Compiled by Dishari Basu