Delhi-based Sahib Dang and Sunayana Sahni aim to give Indian wear a contemporary facelift with their label, Essé by Sahib and Sunayana. ELLE interviewed the designer duo to understand their design sensibilities, their latest collection and their plans for 2018.
Sahib Dang and Sunayana Sahni
ELLE: How did you come to start Essé?
Sahib Dang: Sunayana and I have been friends for over a decade, and we graduated from the National Institute of Fashion Technology, Delhi, in 2014. Our design sensibilities, and insane love for Alexander McQueen and all things dark, led to us setting up Essé in 2017. We want to change the stereotypical perception of Indian wear through our contemporary aesthetic.
ELLE: Essé has a strong Indo-western theme…
Sunayana Sahni: The Indo-western influence pushes the limits of what we expect from fashion, and keeps us rooted in tradition. Despite having two distinct lines, pr.t and luxury, our collections overlap and inspire each other. We actively play with volume, colour and silhouettes that appeal to the modern Indian woman.
ELLE: The F/W 2017-18 collection paired chiffon with leather, knits with glitter. Tell us about that.
SD: Our campaign was called The Liaison Between The Rugged And The Romantic, and it embodied our love for elegance and extravagance, with an undertone of sheer power. We combined fabrics like silk chiffons, satins and linen—all integral to Essé, which embodies the culture of combining contrasting elements like cotton and linen slub knits on a pantsuit, or our belts that combine leather and suede embellishments with aari sequin work.
ELLE: So many of your looks are cinched around the waist with your belts — these are like your signature now.
SS: We constantly try and make an impact through textures and fierce accessories, because the devil is in the details. Bold belts help us reinstate our philosophy of simplicity-meets-power.
STYLE TIP: Go with Essé’s signature move and accentuate your waist with a wide belt, over a flowy ensemble.
ELLE: Who is your target audience?
SD: Essé is all about dressing the personality of a woman, by embracing her dynamic complexity. The Essé woman is one who matches grace with grit, fragility with boldness, and tenderness with fearlessness.
ELLE: What are your plans for 2018?
SS: Besides our upcoming collection, we are also showcasing at various international platforms, global trade fairs, runway shows and numerous trunk shows. A few collaborations are also in the pipeline, but our main aim is to focus on evolving the brand because we are still fairly new in the market.
Photographs: Ojasvita Chandra (Sahib Dang and Sunayana Sahni), Sumeet Ballal