Minimal and bright in white. That's Payal Singhal's flagship bridal store in Kala Ghoda in Mumbai. The designer, who will complete 25 years in fashion next year, is known for easy-breezy aesthetics and the soft hues of the store matches the carefreeness in spirit. Payal chatted with t2ONLINE about the new store, the collection Modern Mughals that marks the store launch, and what the last two decades have taught her.
Congratulations on the new store! It looks lovely. Tell us when did you manifest this?We started working on the store last year. But it’s a full circle moment. It was the exact same spot where I had my first fashion internship as a young girl – it was Shaina NC’s store back then.

How would you describe the new flagship?

This is our third store in Mumbai, and will serve as the flagship bridal store. It has been dressed in our signature old rose pink and soft grey with rose gold accents. Modern art deco references are coupled with an intimate approach to design, making the overall ambience inviting and accessible. The entire experience is meant to be an immersive walk into the world of PS — from the jasmine fragrance, my favourite, to all the editions of the in-house magazine PS Diary as well as collectible coffee-table books by my grand-uncle, renowned artist and photographer JP Singhal, that patrons can browse through. The store has been designed by renowned interior designer, Laila Malpani, who is also a long-time PS Girl, making it even more personal.

Has the expansion plan changed in the wake of the pandemic?

We’ve continued to grow and expand even during the pandemic. We launched new collections every season even during the two years of the pandemic, introduced several new collaborations, opened our store in Khar, Mumbai (though it was slightly delayed by a few months due to lockdowns), expanded our pret line, hosted our PS Travelling Trunk Shows in the UK and USA, to name a few milestones.

Do you think the brick-and-mortar stores have successfully staved off the fears of them becoming obsolete that the pandemic had introduced?

Even as the digital world continues to grow and inform a large part of our experience, fashion, at the end of the day, is a tangible good. It thrives on the touch-and-feel experience. Nothing can replace the experience of walking into a store, seeing the embroideries up close, feeling the fabric, trying on a piece before buying it or interacting personally with the designer.

Are you big on online shopping personally?

I do shop a lot online — this is mainly because I have a great understanding of what works for my body type and tend to fall back on staples that always hold me in good stead.

Tell us about the mood of the Modern Mughals...

With Modern Mughals, we have dipped into the wardrobe of India’s erstwhile royalty and reimagined their ensembles with a playful, present-day twist. I have a long-time, deep interest in Islamic art and architecture and these references have informed the PS design aesthetic early on. You’ll see them referenced across various collections. Be it vintage royal costumes from the Mughal era, or examples of intricate detailing in palaces or wall art, they all find a way into our collections. Likewise with ‘Modern Mughals’. It has informed the collection’s construction, silhouettes and embroidery, which have been interpreted in an Indian context but also modernised to appeal to the contemporary bride. This collection is a work in progress and we will keep building on it. With it, we’ve also gone back to our original PS colour palette of muted, soft tones and blush shades, after a lot of boldly-hued collections in the last two years — something a lot of patrons have noticed and are happy about as well!

What are your spring-summer essentials? Do you have new favourites this year?

While the collection brings back the kalidar anarkali, ghera lehnga and poncho salwar, it also adds the brand’s signature sensuality to these traditionally restrained silhouettes. The colour palette is pared-down muted tones with accents of bright pops making it equal parts edgy and elegant. The zardozi embroidery has been used for scenic storytelling, as the patterns in each outfit come with their own distinct narrative. Something old, something new… but all the while being quintessentially PS!

The brand will soon turn 25...

We turn 25 next year, and are excited to share our milestones and delve into those details as we step into celebrations for the milestones.

What have been the learnings?

We celebrate 25 years next, and surviving in this dynamic industry would not be possible without reinventing ourselves every year. I think it’s important to have a finger on the pulse of what your customer wants, what they are thinking and what they are lacking. We’ve always factored this into our design process. And led the way — be it with the launch of athleisure-inspired Indian wear or working with content creators long before it became the norm. You need to reinvent not just design but also strategy and approach.