Expert Speaks: Accessory Designer Malini Agarwalla’s Tips For Accessorizing On The Big Day

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Malini Agarwalla had always been interested in Fashion when she felt the urge to bridge the gap in the market for India based accessory designers and Indian accesories. Here she speaks to us about her inspirations, her products and also gives some wonderful tips to our brides for accessorizing for their big day.

Accessory designer-Malini Agarwalla

1. Tell us a bit about yourself. Were you always interested in designing accessories and handbags?

Fashion has been an interest of mine for a number of years before I started my business. I felt that while Indian clothes have developed a formal designer wear industry over a period of many years, Indian accessories and India- based accessory designers only really started their journey a little over ten years ago. Combining my interests with what I thought of as a gap in the market is what prompted me to start my career as an accessory designer.

 2. Where do you find your inspiration for your designs? What motivates you to design those lovely bags and clutches?

My muse is my travels and experiences. I believe culture and traditions are the greatest influencers of art and expression- Wherever I go, new cultures, new crafts and new ways of thinking inspire me to create my collections and allow me to imagine and create accessories that are out of the ordinary and interesting. I like to pair these experiences and expressions with workable techniques and appealing colour palettes to create a product that the customer is attracted to and can identify with.


 3. Define the highlight of your career

A client walked in to see our jewelled bags and turned to me and said, “It’s so beautiful, it’s like an heirloom.” This, and other similar compliments, make me very proud of all the work that I have put in so far, and encourage me to do even better in the coming years.

 4. From your own collections, do you have a favourite bag/clutch or accessory?

One of my jewelled bags- Whether it is one of my El Dorado clutches to a cocktail, or an Invintage clutch for a wedding reception, these bags are the perfect blend of artistry and workmanship, and always catch people’s eye.

 5. What are the materials and detailing you use in your products?

We use a variety of different materials in our work- from fabrics such as brocades and jutes, to the more western appliqués of sequins and satin, along with a variety of embellishments ranging from feathers to metal chains and semi precious stones. This variety is further underscored with the use of materials such as wood, brass and with the Bespoke range, silver and gold used as settings or frames for these products. Each product we make is unique because it combines so many different fabrics, ranging from all over India, different techniques such as block printing or crochet work, and different elements.

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 6. Can you describe the Indian bride (her personality and style) for whom your products are made?

My ideal buyer, bride or not, is a woman who is certain of herself. Whether she chooses to wear only ethnic clothes, or is a sophisticated globetrotter, my ideal buyer is a woman is confident of her identity and is keen to express this identity and personality with her ensemble. I like making accessories that are not run of the mill; that would allow a person to explore a new look or style. Therefore, my ideal buyer is one who is not ordinary and does not think of herself as such. She likes who she is, wants to learn more and wants to keep discovering more facets to her personality. Most of all, my ideal buyer appreciates design, quality and luxury and likes seeing these things packaged together. When the buyer is a bride, I feel that her sense of style has to be that much more keenly honed, because with so many people around you who all want to help you and give you opinions on outfits and accessories, it becomes tricky to finally end up in a look reflective of you. For the Indian bride, we have a wide range of bags that would be ideal for her trousseau, and wedding day, but ultimately her personality and style will determine which accessories are the most becoming.

 7. Are there any exciting plans coming up for you? Where do you see yourself five years down the line?

We have a new range of Egyptian inspired Limited Edition handbags – our Cleo Collection– that are hitting stores now. For the coming season we have an exciting array of new bag, new jewellery and new looks for our customers. We also hope to have our website revamped and an e-store running for all our lovely clients to far away from us and our regular retailers. The plan for the next five years is to consolidate and establish our prêt and couture labels – Pimento and Malaga Bespoke, in a manner similar to Malaga. It is also to consolidate our e-tailer operations and to look at expanding our stores to other cities in India and the world.

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8. Our lovely brides-to-be would love a pricing guide for your products, particularly what can they expect to pay for the bags?

Our prêt accessories label, Pimento, has fun bags in ethnic and western ranges from Rs. 3,000 to Rs. 6,000. These bags are younger and simpler, in fun and vibrant colours and ideal for gifting and smaller wedding functions or parties.

Malaga’s handbags range from approximately Rs. 8,000 to our jewel studded brass bags which retail up to approximately Rs.80,000. These bags, depending on the elements used, are from our signature label, and bear the USP of Malaga. Ranging from brocades to leather, the lush materials and embellishments of the bags make them ideal for you and one can find the perfect accessory for any occasion – from office to party, function to celebration, we have the perfect bag for everyone. The typical price of Malaga fashion jewellery is Rs. 3,500 to Rs. 12,000  and consists of our neckpieces, jewelled belts, cuffs and earrings.Malaga Bespoke is our bespoke luxury label, consisting of handbags and jewellery made in precious metals and with purely precious stones. These bags can either be bought from our flagship store at the Palladium, by appointment, or can be custom designed specifically for a client. All prices are on request for these collections.

9. Which designers have inspired you/ who do you admire and why?

A number of designers have inspired me in terms of their vision for fashion and luxury and their innate ability to make us think differently about all the elements they use and combine in their fashion sensibility. Fashion designers such as Manish Arora, Alexander Mcqueen and Sabyasachi are a few examples of those that I admire.

 10. And finally, any advice for brides-to-be for accessorizing on their big Day?

Brides-to be should accessorize, and indeed choose their clothes and jewellery for their big Day not in terms of what is in vogue as the first priority, but as an extension of how they see themselves. You have one day that is all about you, and you will have prior notice on how your event is set up, the theme, the music, the lighting etc. Make use of that knowledge as it is all staged to spotlight you at your best. You know which styles suit you; how much make-up you are comfortable in; whether you like big statement pieces as your accessories or smaller ones to just highlight your outfit. My advice would be to be confident of your choices and make the ones that you are most comfortable with. That comfort and confidence will add the extra shine to your face and the extra sparkle to your eye! Have a great Wedding!

All images courtesy Malaga Bags and Accessories.

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