An interview with Barkha: the inspirational woman behind Dramaqueen
Dramaqueen is a trendy fashion label by Middle East-based designer Barkha Shewakramani, which is set to elevate the international fashion fraternity and landscape to new heights with its uber-stylish and affordable creations. Barkha combines her love of vintage-inspired designs with glamorous, A-list chic to create classic, timeless pieces that fuse Eastern trends with Western style.
We were lucky enough to be able to have a chat with Barkha, where she shares with us a typical day for her, some of her fashion predictions for next season and what it’s like to juggle running her own fashion brand alongside The Lupus Foundation, which she created.
First of all, what drew you into the wonderful world of fashion?
Ever since I was a child I was intrigued by the world of fashion, which often led me to cut and stitch the clothes my mom had bought for me. For me, fashion is a form of art, a way of expressing myself through the language of fabrics, embellishments and various silhouettes. Having my own brand was a natural progression for me.
Run us through a typical day for you?
A typical day for me starts by dropping my four-year-old son off at school at 8am, followed by breakfast with my husband where we run through our daily calendars and list of chores. I’m usually at my workshop by 11am where I answer my emails, phone calls and then spend time with my pattern maker. I normally spend around three hours a day sketching and designing new collections followed by carefully selecting suitable fabrics.
At 1pm I pick up my son from school. I then have lunch at home or with my girlfriends, depending on my schedule. A quick swim in the evening with my son and then I end my day with a lovely meal at one of my favourite haunts in Dubai.
Having seen you in various “best dressed” lists, we would love to know what your style tips are for Autumn/Winter?
This season’s style comes with a bag of attitude and with structured silhouettes, rich and ornate fabrics like velvet, lace and metallic hues. If you buy one thing, buy a military inspired jacket, which can be paired with rolled-up jeans for a casual look, or with a peplum skirt and a pair of heels for a night on the town.
We love the materials you use in your collections, including lace and silk. What are some of your inspirations?
Our strongest ethos is to never compromise on the quality of fabrics. Coming from a rich cultural background, I was always surrounded by beautiful fabrics like brocade lace and raw silk. I’m truly inspired by jewellery, hence most of my garments are in rich jewel tones and are made of ornate silk or velvet that reflect the sheen of natural gemstones.
Who is your style icon and what is your favourite era in fashion?
My fashion icon is Catherine Deneuve, for her Gallic sophistication and elegance. My favourite era would have to be the 70s, as this introduced us to bell bottoms, the androgynous hippie look and cigarette-legged jeans. And, of course, who can forget the jersey wrap dress that is still a wardrobe staple today.
It’s really inspiring that you have set up The Lupus Foundation. Has it been challenging to manage running that as well as your own fashion collection?
I was diagnosed with Lupus at the young age of 21 and that led me on a path of self-discovery and soul searching. Since then, it has been my dream to spread as much awareness as possible about Lupus and various auto-immune conditions. Blending the two – fashion and charity – only makes the journey more fun and less challenging.
It’s very exciting that Dramaqueen is expanding into different sectors, including jewellery. Are there any other sectors that the brand is looking to expand into?
Yes, we recently tied up with an accessories designer to manufacture a small collection only for Dramaqueen. In the near future we are looking to expand into exotic leather handbags.
After witnessing so many changes in the industry over the years, where do you see fashion going?
In my opinion, there are no longer any rules when it comes to fashion. We’ve often witnessed a revival of trends from the 80s, dating back to almost the 50s. It’s important to have individuality and keeping it real is primary.
Would you like to offer any advice to people wanting to go into fashion?
My only advice would be to have your own sense of style rather than what’s hot and what’s not. It is the era of individuality. I have always believed in being true to myself rather than following trends blindly.
Finally, what does the future hold for you? Any exciting plans, developments in terms of both The Lupus Foundation and Dramaqueen?
We are looking to collaborate with young and upcoming women, who are strong individuals in their own sense, to be our brand ambassadors and help us spread awareness of the cause.
View the Dramaqueen collection here.