By Neehar Mishra
Photography: Courtesy Retarded Velvet
Casual, chic and funky with just a dash of crazy—are words that best describe ‘Retarded Velvet’, the brainchild of dynamic designer duo Theresa James and Roger Prince a.k.a Holiday and Capital…
What commenced as a mutual passion for fashion and a penchant for creativity has, after successful runs at the Vancouver Fashion Week (April 2010) and Lakme Fashion Week, Mumbai (August 2011, March 2012), evolved into a clothing line that incorporates fresh off-the-hook, vibrant designs attuned to the very eclectic and eccentric personalities of the designers.
Mapping the duo’s journey from college to Retarded Velvet, Theresa says, “I have degrees in International Development Studies and Law, and Roger’s background is in high-end custom renovations and heritage home restorations. At the time, we both knew we wanted to do something more creative professionally and we wanted to do it together.” On discovering their shared loved for fashion, the two decided to enroll themselves for the design program at the Blanche Macdonald Centre for Applied Design, Vancouver, and since then, there has been no looking back. “Fortunately, we absolutely loved the program and discovered that we had complementary skills. Roger is expert at drafting patterns and I love the design and illustration process. We both had heads for business, so it just worked,” Theresa further adds.
Retarded Velvet, which stands for “incredibly effortless or smooth”, encompasses within its ambit, a plethora of design mantras combining aspects like seasons and trends with the duo’s many explorations and experiences, churning out patterns and designs, which are as ‘moody’ or inconsistent as they are aesthetically appealing. “We are huge proponents of laidback silhouettes that work for just about every one - men and women - of different shapes. Ease and comfort are just as pivotal as the style quotient. Less tailoring and embellishment, more versatile, intriguing shapes and fluidity are the key,” says Theresa.
Their free spirits and wanderlust have taken them all over the world in search for inspiration. One such destination has been India, which the two not only claim to have “a deep and lasting love affair” with, but which has also urged them to create a whole collection with India as the central theme. Aptly called ‘Iconic India’, the collection combines pop-art digital prints inspired by the everyday logos, landmarks and other quintessential ephemera from the subcontinent with progressive design, creating pieces that are chic yet comfortable. “We have reworked on and modernized concepts like vintage Amar Chitra Katha comics, out-of-print Rupee notes, logos like the quintessential Thumbs Up or Amul Butter girl, or landmarks like the stunning Meenakshi Temple from Madurai, Tamil Nadu, to create prints that are recognizable and yet placed in a context beyond the expected.
To others, outsiders to all things Indian, the prints show off a riot of colours and are youthful and refreshing,” explains Theresa. Coincidentally, this is also the first time that the designer duo has forayed into creating their own digital prints. Talking about what makes Retarded Velvet’s prints stand out amongst other pop-art designs, Theresa says, “We choose visual imagery that is not only close to our own hearts, but also evokes that same sense of familiarity in others. Everything is intentional and directional. Nothing is by chance.”Obsessed with designs that test the boundaries of personal style, each season the pair is influenced by travel and culture with an eye to creating statement pieces that are fluid and visually electric.