Erasing the line between fashion and art

Published On: September 6, 2019 02:09 PM NPT By: Anweiti Upadhyay

LN’s Atelier is a team of four fashion designers – Elen Rai, Anil Pradhan, Parikshya Baniya, and Arzoo Pradhan – who are working together to push forward the creative and artistic side of fashion in Nepal. Rai, founder of LN’s Atelier, emphasizes the fact that the group isn’t an official organization or a company yet.

However, all four designers at LN’s Atelier teach fashion design at various colleges and institutes around Kathmandu and that is their primary job at the moment.

Rai, who has been working in the fashion industry since 2013, says that a lot of Nepali fashion professionals don’t really have a good understanding of the world of fashion or even what the word fashion means. “So we (LN’s Atelier team) want to influence and teach the future professionals in fashion what it means and how to understand fashion,” says Rai explaining why he and the other designers of LN’s Atelier took to teaching fashion design.

Ever since they got together – about two years ago – the LN’s Atelier team has been putting out one or two ready to wear collection and an avant-garde garment every year. Besides that, they also work on custom design orders from buyers – most of which are ethnic garments like lehengas and saris. Rai reveals that LN’s Atelier only releases their ready to wear collections during summer because they can’t find the right and good quality of fabrics that are needed to create the kind of winter wear clothing they want to make.Till date, LN’s Atelier has released and promoted all of their creations on their social media pages but for a few weeks now they have been associated with Antidote Nepal so a lot of LN’s Atelier’s clothing is available there as well.

“I think organizing runway shows in Nepal is a waste of time and money as none of the (Nepali) guests actually watch these shows with the intention of buying the showcased clothing later,” reveals Rai. He also states that the LN’s Atelier team hasn’t really invested much to promote the brand and that all their customers at the moment are either their family members or friends.

All of LN’s Atelier creations are for women. When questioned why the brand – that puts so much emphasis on diversifying fashion in Nepal – doesn’t make clothing for men, Rai says that Nepali men aren’t very willing to pay a lot for fashionable clothing. He also adds that since most fashion courses in Nepal only teach focus on women’s clothing and fashion, he and the other designers of LN’s Atelier aren’t all that familiar with men’s fashion either.

The beginning
Before he took up fashion design for his bachelor’s degree, Rai wasn’t really interested in the subject. He was a student of hotel management during his +2 years but after interning and learning about the work, he realized that he wouldn’t enjoy this career path at all. He started looking at other creative fields and finally decided to study fashion design as he thought it would be an interesting subject.

Rai came up with the name LN’s Atelier in 2013 during his first year of college and started uploading pictures of his designs on the Facebook page he created for LN’s Atelier. While he was still in his first semester of college, he sold a garment under this name to a friend who paid double the amount he had asked for it because she liked the design a lot. This motivated him to work harder on his designs and come up with more innovative pieces. In 2014, his elder sister opened a retail garment store in Kupondole, Lalitpur, and he started showcasing his creations there. Unfortunately, the store shut after being in operation for four years and that was that for the time being. 

Rai was done with college by that time and was busy with his job as studio manager at a popular design hub as well as doing his own projects for other brands, magazine shoots and pageant shows. Although he was happy with all the work and exposure he was getting, at one point he realized that couldn’t complete everything he had to do on his own. So, he started looking out for talented and driven fashion enthusiasts and students who could work with him. Anil was the first one to join Rai at LN’s Atelier and he brought in Parikshya and Arzoo who were his classmates at IEC College of Arts and Fashion.

Why avant-garde?
As someone who has always been fascinated with creative fields, Rai naturally got drawn to avant-garde fashion. So much so that his first ever collection – after he graduated college – was avant-garde. Since then, he has been putting out one avant-garde clothing every year.

“I see avant-garde fashion as the way a designer expresses him/herself through the clothing he/she makes,” says Rai adding that since avant-garde fashion is the more artistic form of fashion, different individuals have different understanding of the word avant-garde itself. He further says that since avant-garde clothing in grand, expressive and outlandish it isn’t exactly wearable. 

The reason why LN’s Atelier still makes one avant-garde clothing every year is because this is Rai’s personal favorite niche in fashion. Another reason why LN’s Atelier is making avant-garde pieces is because no other designer is doing it in Nepal and he believes LN’s Atelier’s work can inspire future fashion designers to take up avant-garde designing as well.

The LN’s Atelier team starts working on their avant-garde clothing near the end of each year in order to complete it by the first quarter of the next year. Because these pieces are unique and need a lot of work, Rai says you really can’t predict how long it might take to make one.  

What’s to come? 
The LN’s Atelier team has quite a lot of things planned for the brand’s future. Although they haven’t focused on developing a business model for the brand yet, the team is preparing to finally structure the brand as a fashion business (company). LN’s Atelier will be coming up with ready to wear collections more frequently from 2020 as well. Rai also has plans of launching a line of accessories, more specifically shoes and bags.

The LN’s Atelier team believes that evening gowns should never look dull or boring. So, they crafted this eye-catching and incredible blue and white gown that gives the wearer a distinctly feminine silhouette. The bodycon bodice, flow-y and floor sweepingly long skirt, emphasized neckline and the abstract pattern all work together to make this gown captivating and elegant.

Photo: Hritik Shrestha
Model: Nikita Chandak

This piece of clothing from LN’s Atelier’s avant-garde section symbolizes depression. A heavy body and entangled chaotic thoughts are visually represented in this photograph where both of these things (the body and the mind) are encouraging each other to go beyond what they consider to be the limit (where hope lies) and to get rid of sorrow.

Photo: Theeng Vision
Model: Namrata Shrestha

Ethnic wear in monochromatic colors is becoming quite popular these days. This lehenga is LN’s Atelier’s take on that trend. It looks simple, stylish and classy. The golden details added to the lehenga are nice touches that beautifully complement the monochromatic theme.

Photo: Theeng Vision
Model: Barsha Bhandari

Fashion designers – especially those involved in avant-garde fashion – are constantly working to create and discover unique silhouettes. Here, the LN’s Atelier team has created an irregular silhouette. It has an unidentified structure that intentionally looks a little scary. This conveys that even something that looks scary or ugly at first glance has its own beauty and value.

Photo: Shilu Zain photography and Avishesh Maskey

“Life is a trap. Once you get into existence you ultimately find yourself inside a cage where you are abandoned and forbidden to be free,” says Rai adding that the inspiration behind this avant-garde look is slavery.

Photo: Sheelu Zain and Avishesh Maskey
Model: Chahana Rana Magar

These are three pieces from LN’s Atelier’s ready to wear collection for this summer. All of these dresses have a shift and sheath silhouette and are in pastel colors – perfect for the warm weather. An interesting thing about these dresses is that even though the frocks look detached, they still are and hold the shape of a singular garment.

Photo: Yudhir KC
Models: Angelica Khatri, Emma Shrestha and Pooja Nepali

Leave A Comment