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Secret stories

Gargi Gupta  |  New Delhi 

FASHION: has stories she won't tell and advice she insists on giving.
Suman Nathwani, a rare of sleepwear and lingerie, has evoked wide-ranging interest in her work even before she showcases her collection at the Wills Lifestyle India Week 2006, where she has a stall all to herself for "Bedtime stories", available in four mood variants: innocence, wildness, sensuality and romance.
What sets it apart from the regular stuff in foreign catalogues is the intricacy of the Lucknowi and Kashmiri embroidery employed to tell (or serve as a setting for) some of those stories.
For the Kolkata-based designer, this is a big moment. "I needed this platform for people to take me, and sleepwear, as serious fashion," says Nathwani, who started out in 1987 when she was just 17, quite by chance, designing the trousseau nightwear for a cousin.
"All you could get then were cotton nighties at New Market and some imported pieces from Marks & Spencer that were nice, but very far from the kind of filmy, wispy negligees and chemises that I had dreamt of," she says.

Soon, orders started pouring in, and Nathwani was in business.

now retails sleepwear for both women and men at La Lingerie, a chain of multibrand lingerie stores run by her husband, Dharam, apart from other outlets.
With prices ranging between Rs 800 and Rs 7,000, Nathwani is not for the price-conscious. "My target is the set that now buys nightwear abroad, but does not get the desired fit since foreign brands do not have bigger sizes for Indian women."
Which brings one to Nathwani's favourite subject: the Indian woman's ignorance of bra sizes and Indian companies' corresponding laxity in designing bras with appropriate cup-sizes for the heavy-set bust. Such is her exasperation that she stops women on the streets just to tell them that they need a size refit!

First Published: Tue, April 04 2006. 00:00 IST
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