Creative Director, Pearl Uppal takes us through the history of Talking Threads.
By Arushi Sakhuja
Indian wear is opulent, royal and elegant; and yet another leading designer, Pearl Uppal is celebrating Indian handicrafts with her label Talking Threads. With a focus on tradition with inspiration from the modern world, the brand celebrates exquisite culture in fashion and exceptional craftsmanship, while creating gorgeous wedding wear for brides and grooms, celebration wear, and evening couture. Signature USPs of the labels’ dazzling creations include zardozi, parsi gara, gota patti, beading artistry and 3D embroidery.
Talking Threads was founded in 2014 and has created a huge following of discerning clients globally, with its digital presence. In February 2023, the brand launched its flagship studio in Mehrauli, New Delhi – the coveted hub for designer Indian wear. Under the creative leadership of Pearl Uppal, the brand is well known for personalization, masterful craftsmanship and attention to detail. Handmade, tasteful embroideries, luxurious fabrics, and couture finishes are the ethos of the brand. Having worn the label, I can personally vouch for the brand's aesthetic, quality and sophistication.
The bridal couture line offers artisanal, fashion-forward silhouettes and industry-leading customizations
for the modern bride and groom. For women, the collection offers lehengas, shararas, sarees, anarkalis and gowns. The men’s collection includes sherwanis, bandhgalas, prince coats, bandi jackets and kurtas. The evening couture line offers confident sophisticated glamour with needlework artistry across their cocktail sarees, gowns, mermaid skirts and jackets. Their heritage and future heirloom line is deeply rooted in Indian crafts and offers coveted artisanal pieces for the heritage connoisseur.
Pearl Uppal, the creative director of Talking Threads spoke to TSL about the store launch, the history of the designs and ideas behind various garment lines.
Throw light on the fabric and the kind of embellishments used in the collections. At Talking Threads, we truly believe that fabric is the soul of the garment. Our collections are handmade on luxurious fabrics in the silk, linen, cotton and cashmere family, as well as new-age fabrics using natural fibres in viscose and modal. We focus on sumptuous texture, detail and hand feel. The embellishments are selected basis of the aesthetic and craft embodied in our three lines, wedding, evening and heritage couture. The wedding and heritage lines see a lot of zardozi and threads embroidery using materials like gold and silver threads, silk threads, metal wires, dabka, sequins and beads. The evening couture line exudes contemporary glamour with embroidery and embellishment using Swarovski crystals, pearl beads, french wires, rhinestones and glass beads.
Tell us a little about the techniques, colour scheme and silhouettes that are close to your heart. I am enchanted and passionately driven by craft and colour. Zardozi in metallic work, indo-persian silk thread embroidery, and the body of Kashmir crafts are close to my heart. In terms of colours, the earth palette and jewel tones are where I find my best expression. For our men’s wear, the two classic silhouettes, the sherwani and bandhgala are at the top. And in women’s wear, I love the drama of the lehenga and the sophisticated glamour of the sarees and gowns. I particularly enjoy working on our cocktail line of draped sarees and gowns. What is the USP of Talking Threads? With a vision to shape the future of our industry for every discerning bride and groom, Talking Threads is focused on keeping the customer and the craft at the focal point instead of the current designer-centred narrative. The brand is passionately driven to dress the dreams of brides and grooms with style, personalisation, masterful craftsmanship and attention to detail. Tangible handmade quality, luxurious fabrics, couture finishes and customisations come to the forefront of every Talking Threads creation. I also think our diverse and broad range is a USP as it makes the brand enter the customer’s occasion wear wardrobe across ceremonial and evening occasions. From lehengas and sherwanis on one hand to jackets, draped sarees and gowns on the other, our wide range coupled with our laser focus on craftsmanship and attention to detail, make us a compelling choice for the customer.
An interesting brand name, tell us the backstory.
Threads have always been a connector of the past with the future. Since ancient times, threads have been a medium through which cultural heritage gets passed on from one generation to another. Our design label seeks to be such a connector, it seeks to evolve the future of sartorial tradition. Talking Threads tells a story of our culture, and craftsmanship and evolves the story to make the artisanal relevant to modern times. Each Talking Threads garment tells a story of the artisanal hand and the craft heritage, as well as the story of the customer who values the artisanal and seeks a meaningful connection to the clothes we wear.
Tell us about your journey as a fashion designer, and when did it all begin?
I inherited her mother Kulbir’s deep passion for Indian needle crafts, love for custom made and uncompromising approach to quality. In my childhood and through my young adult life, I never wore off the shelf. Through my teenage years, experimenting with hand sewing techniques, romancing colours through hand dyeing and dressing up luxurious fabrics with needlework artistry created our joint escapades on every special occasion. On a parallel path, being academically inclined towards science and technology, I pursued a bachelor’s in engineering from Delhi College of Engineering and a master’s in technology management from IIT, thereafter making a flourishing career in the consumer internet industry. There too, my interest in fashion did not stay away for long and I actively started work in the crossings of fashion, tech and retail. I founded and invested in fashion tech startups and the journey came full circle when I re-joined hands with my mother to seed Talking Threads, a design label passionately driven and compelled to make the artisanal relevant to modern times. For the last five years, I have been actively engaged in my design atelier, working with artisans and designers, giving creative expression to the couture I’d like to see across wedding and evening wear. I am a young creative director with a big vision to reshape the Indian wedding and celebration industry on the back of culture, craft, and customer experience.
Are you looking to pivot towards the millennials too and can we expect a prét collection in the future? We are generation fluid in the true sense. We are about Gen Z, millennials, and Gen X. The wedding and evening line has both millennials and Gen Z customers with Gen Z expected to be the major cohort for the next decade. Our craft couture and saree line find love amongst millennials and GenX. So, in terms of generations, given the wide range of silhouettes and product segments, we cut across generations, with different products creating affinity with different consumer segments. When we talk of prét as ready-to-wear, yes, we do offer ready-to-wear solutions to our customers. But if you interpret pret as everyday casual wear, no, there is no plan to do that. We are a label focused on celebratory occasions and glamourous evening wear. Our atelier’s forte is masterful embroidery and artisanal excellence that finds its best expression in life’s special occasions. Our body of work gives undivided attention to life’s magical shimmering moments, whether it's ceremonial, evening glam or creating a future heirloom that takes the magic across generations. What is the ideology of the brand in terms of aesthetics? In terms of ideology, we live to make artisanal relevant to the modern consumer. So, our design always seeks to amplify the artisanal and to tell a story about the craft. In terms of aesthetics, there is a unique balance between the opulence of the surface and the simplicity of the canvas. Our design almost always uses negative spaces to create impact. Our aesthetic also balances tradition with modernity; rooted in tradition but moved by the modern world. So, in that sense, you find a modern vibe springing from a rich cultural heritage. When we design, when we choose colour, when we choose the silhouette, at the core, we always value elegance, sophistication, and timelessness.
How do you blend Indian craft and Western sensibilities? Our design philosophy and aesthetic itself are based on balance, the balance of opulence against simplicity, the balance of tradition with modernity. So, in a sense, it comes effortlessly to us, by the very nature of how we design. Choice of colour, silhouette, and impactful use of negative space in our surfaces, delivers the blend that takes the Indian craft story and makes it appealing to a wider multicultural future.