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At the Lakme India Fashion Week in Mumbai last month, Vivek Karunakaran (1998) was among the nine designers selected for the GenNext round, a group show where young designers debut before international buyers and the media.

A Vivek design; pic courtesy: New Indian ExpressI had never seen “fashion” in the Loyola lexicon, and here was somebody who was defining it. So, despite the publicity by now, within minutes of Jiby’s tip off, I got in touch with Vivek, who runs viia in Chennai.

Excerpts from an e-mail interview:

Fashion is not the typical Loyolite’s post-Loyola route. Who or what carried you to the National Institute of Fashion Technology, Chennai?

I guess the creative streak in my gene pool comes from mom. I have always been interested in art, craft, design, music, dance, etc.. I always looked forward to the Youth Festival; loved the interhouse competition and all the fun that came with it. Yes, I was made to write all the possible engineering entrance exams. But I had clearly decided at that point what I wanted. I was fortunate to meet a few people who were design students at NIFT and NID [National Institute of Design]. Meeting them further strengthened my interest towards the career I wanted to pursue.

In Trivandrum, at that point of time, the only form of exposure to Fashion, was in the form of fashion shows organised at intercollegiate festivals, and big events organised by the corporates or the government. So whenever I had a chance to pitch in, I would make the most of it. I got so involved that I decided to organise a show around where I used to live — bringing in sponsors and celebrities together, and raising some money for charity. It was quite an experience. A good learning and overall fun.

When you recall Loyola now, who do you think was the best-dressed teacher?

In those years, I was quite fascinated by Mrs Merl Murray’s sense of style in her sleeveless blouse and printed chiffon sarees. Fr Varkey, Fr Philip Thayyil, late Fr Pulickal, Fr Edassery — all had a sense of style within the crisp robes they used to wear. I think most of the male teachers were still working on their style at that point 🙂

Vivek KarunakaranGiven a choice to re-design the Loyola school uniform, what would be your suggestion(s)?

Black and white, still my all-time favourite. Could possibly look at stylising the same — a bit. Tweaking it to add interesting details. More than everything, a sense of style needs to be inculcated within each student to help them understand “dressing well” and “dressing right.”