RED AS THE ROSE

A Holiday story covered in Crimson featuring Veronica Tharmalingam’s designs, a sustainable brand which also aims to abolish child abuse and child labor in India and Sri Lanka. We spoke to Veronica about her background, inspiration and work. Shot in California by John Blaine.

ENCOMPASSING MY RICH CULTURAL AND FAMILIAL ROOTS INTO MY WORK

I am hoping that I bring an empowering flavor to the fashion industry. Drawing inspiration not only from my time in Chennai as well as Paris, I credit my ancestors and my mother for shaping my love for unique color combinations and an overall passion for creating this unique work.
 
Setting the standards for brands moving forward, Veronica Tharmalingam™ pride ourselves as a fashion brand with a cause. 30% of all sales are donated to important causes including charities helping abolish child abuse and child labor, organizations helping to better quality of life for Indian artisans and organizations in Sri Lanka and India to help provide better health treatments in rural areas. In addition to supporting Indian women and children through these efforts, Veronica Tharmalingam™ is playing a crucial role in the sustainable fashion movement. As a brand, we are working to make our carbon footprint as small as possible by only sourcing materials already available locally in the market and producing limited batches to avoid excess products. With an incredible handbag and jewelry line collection out now, Veronica Tharmalingam™ keeps a busy pace and is already working on a new collection. 

Where do you find inspiration for your jewellery and handbags designs ?

I was born in Chennai lived there until I was 12 and moved to Paris. Even though I am and will always be a Chennai girl I wouldn’t say it’s just my Chennai background that shaped my work. It’s much more deeper than that, being of Tamil origin and growing up in that culture and being immersed in all the colorful sarees, gold jewelry and accessories of Chennai, Tamil Nadu and India contributed tremendously of course. 

But it’s mostly by watching my mother do her shopping for sarees and jewelry that I learned how to mix and match colors and jewelry patterns that are not common combinations. The stories she would tell me about her mother, my grandmother helped me develop an eye for fashion and colors. I guess it is safe to say that it is kind of in my DNA… in the 30s and 40s my grandmother was very avant-garde and a style icon in her city. Even before Fashion Week existed, she would tell her tailor to make an outfit inspired by a movie she saw and she turned heads wherever she would go with her sarees and would always mix match her gold jewelry. My mother was the same. She would place custom orders at the stores for sarees and gold jewelry with unusual color combinations that would throw off and surprise the sales associates, and they would even warn my mother that it was not going to look pretty etc. She would be so sure of her choices and of course, the results were always amazing, and the store would order more and sell out each time. She was a trendsetter and couturier herself. She would tailor clothing for herself and us (me and my brother) that would always have a wow factor jewelry. My mother had a very keen eye for fashion and what would be trendy in the future. So, I grew up observing all this and unconsciously soaking it all in. Ultimately, this is what led me to combine saree, raw silk and jewelry techniques. 

Are you involved with local artesian? 

I have both a handbag and a jewelry line at the moment. The name of the handbag line is the Rani Collection, which means queen in Tamil, while the jewelry collection is named Maheswary after my late mother. The handbags are handmade in a 5-person workshop in the outskirts of Mumbai, where thousands of years of traditional savoir-faire are used to craft every fabric, every thread, every pearl, and every seam, each bag is created as a unique and exclusive piece of art.My vision for these collections and my brand, in general, is to empower every woman to cultivate her uniqueness. My bags and jewelry are a symbol for women to find and nurture the graceful authority and the regal elegance that exists within themselves. To own a Veronica Tharmalingam™ handbag and jewelry is to dare to express this inner warrior queen everyday with class, authenticity, confidence and style. This is tied into the names of each model, which take inspiration from unique women from the past and present. 

The Rani Collection has six statement handbags that were initially designed for evening wear but evolved to daywear. I see these as show stoppers with bright colors and intricate details to make that statement even with a pair of jeans. All the handbags except for one are made of raw silk and are lined with the royal blue VT brand color inside. I am also a practical person and I do not like heavy handbags, so I made it a point to make my bags as light as possible. Even with the intricate art work you will see on them we picked very light and high-end materials. Another problem I wanted to solve was to have actual space inside the clutch for example. I’ve always heard my girlfriends complain about their clutch or evening bags not having space to put basic essential things inside them. Even my smallest clutch can fit a phone, lip gloss, car key and 1-2 credit cards (YES!! For real). Another thing I wanted to ensure was that these bags were versatile. By changing the way the straps hook onto the bags you can achieve multiple looks.

The Maheswary Collection is my jewelry collection. It started off as my own private collection that I hand picked from skilled artisans around India. I had not initially planned to bring these to market, but again, the positive feedback I got whenever I would wear these led me to start thinking about incorporating them as part of my brand. I developed a deeper relationship with the artisans and they are now part of the team and work on statement jewelry pieces – there are literally only one or two of each model. The new collection we are currently working on will have upto 5 pieces for some of the earrings and rings. 

I wanted the brand to be affordable to a lot of people who wants to have a designer piece without breaking the bank. So, I made sure we had some pieces that are under $ 200 in our jewelry collection and under $500 for some handbags. I was that young student wanting to have a cute luxury item but couldn’t afford it. 

Veronica Tharmalingam™ pride ourselves as a fashion brand with a cause. 30% of all sales are donated to important causes including charities helping abolish child abuse and child labor, organizations helping to better quality of life for Indian artisans and organizations in Sri Lanka and India to help provide better health treatments in rural areas.

What changes would you like to see within the industry if any? 

I’d love to see more sustainable fashion, produce with what is available and not make surplus. Reuse and recycle materials. A lot of brands are starting to lean towards this and I’d like to see more of it. Same goes for Fashion with a mission by sharing profits in a fair way. 

Who or what moves you?

Lately, I’ve been inspired by my two children a lot, in these difficult times with my mom’s passing and the pandemic, their resilience and adaptability without losing their joy and happiness throughout these two years has been amazing and inspiring. They did lose it a bit once or twice, which was hilarious to watch: my eight-year-old son would yell out of the blue in French (we are multi lingual at home) “I can’t take this anymore arghhhhh” then he would return to his activity. My daughter, three at the time, would keep her mask on the whole day at her day care and couldn’t care less because she was having fun learning and playing safely with her friends. Learning moment for me as a parent to let it out when it is not going well and move on. We tend to forget this as adults. And children are just amazing at teaching you some life lessons so effortlessly.

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Credits:
Photographer: John Blaine @blainecompany
Stylist: Katelynn Tilley @katelynn_tilley at @jblainecomp 
Hair: John B Nguyen @johnbnguyen at @jblainecomp 
Makeup: Keeley Maroney @keelymaroney 
All red dresses by @alpana_neeraj @pr_solo
Black Dress at Petal Dew 

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