wrap dress in nectarine Indian silk with an obi, a traditional Japanese sash. A 24-carat gold choker studded with pearls and semi-precious stones. An empire-waist gown with jari embroidery. Notice a trend? All these pieces hint at a fusion of Western design and Indian aesthetics, which is precisely what fashion designer Christine Philip aims to do.
Philip’s diverse background is reflected in her clothing and custom-made jewelry line. Indeed, she’s a veritable U.N.: Philip is part Indian, German and Portuguese, and she has lived in Muscat, Oman, the United States and southern India. Following in the tradition of her family (most of whom are in the medical field), she was pre-med at Emory University until she decided to pursue her passion: clothing and jewelry design.
Philip thinks her cosmopolitan viewpoint is part of her appeal: “I think that even though designers have their own unique background and style, our differences make this industry unique and exciting,” she says. “It’s good that we all have different facets, inspirations and ideas because if we didn’t, fashion would be ordinary and mundane.”
“It’s fabulous being of Indian descent because in my opinion, we have the most beautiful jewelry, the most lavish detail-oriented fabrics, the most vibrant garments, striking precious stones, the finest 22- and 24-carat gold, distinctive art and the most intricate artifacts.”
The Atlanta-based designer lists culture and custom as the main inspiration for her designs. “By culture,” she elaborates, “I mean India has a history for its richness. It’s fabulous being of Indian descent because in my opinion, we have the most beautiful jewelry, the most lavish detail-oriented fabrics, the most vibrant garments, striking precious stones, the finest 22- and 24-carat gold, distinctive art and the most intricate artifacts. So, I try to incorporate these elements into my collections.”
She also draws inspiration from her family in creating her designs. “By custom, I mean tradition and heritage” she explains. My family has a love affair with fine jewelry and luxurious fabric. I am very influenced by my grandmother’s passion for fine jewelry and my mother and aunt’s elegant sense of style. They were exposed to the importance of style because of their extensive travel … they are truly my fashion icons.”
And while inspiration abounds, Philip admits that starting out as a young female designer these days can pose a few challenges. “Where do I start?” she says. “As a young, female entrepreneur in a competitive field, I am challenged every day. But I have learned that you have to be satisfied and passionate with what you do and you have to have realistic goals that you intend on accomplishing. It took a long time for me to learn that success just doesn’t fall into your lap; you have to be ambitious and you have to work hard for it.”
Balancing one’s creative ideals with her clients’ practical needs can prove tricky, but Philip handles the tightrope well. “I find that clients do take time to find something unique for a special occasion, but they also want something practical as well,” she says. “So, I also design ready-to-wear fusion collections that can be worn from day to evening.” The ease of her designs as well as their clean lines and beautiful aesthetics is what has made her collection so popular in various retail locations in Florida, Atlanta and Bangalore.
These days, most of Philip’s time is spent traveling and designing the new collection for the next season. When asked what item she is currently coveting, she (not surprisingly) mentions time. “[I would like] more time to spend with family and friends,” she says. “Time to go salsa dancing, time to paint, time to play tennis, [and] time to self-reflect.” With her growing success, though, this item might have to stay on her wish list a bit longer.