“I would have loved to design a piece of jewellery for Joan Rivers. I think she was such an incredible, hilarious, woman.”
ROSH MAHTANI – THE INTERVIEW
ROSH, HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN DESIGNING FOR?
I started designing about a year and a half ago, so not very long!
WHAT MADE YOU GET INTO FASHION?
I actually started with literature at first. I studied French and Italian at university and always wanted to do something creative, involving writing and art. That’s when I started making jewellery based on Dante Alighieri’s poetry.
WHAT’S YOUR EARLIEST FASHION MEMORY?
I remember sewing a crop top, around the age of 8, out of an old tablecloth. I put black sequins on it, and refused to wear anything else that summer. (To the horror of my mother!)
HOW DOES THE FASHION SCENE FROM WHERE YOU ARE FROM COMPARE TO ANYWHERE ELSE IN THE WORLD?
I grew up in London, and have always felt lucky for it, I guess. You really can wear anything you like here, and nobody will bat an eyelid. I like that you can look a little scruffy, and that you don’t have to be perfect, or polished, which is the case in some cities.
HOW DID YOU GO ABOUT DESIGNING YOUR COLLECTION?
I create my jewellery through the process of lost wax casting. I carve a figure from wax, and it is then cast in bronze, before being gold plated. I don’t have a particularly regimented way of designing, I just carve and see what happens! I enjoy the spontaneity of it.
WHO IS YOUR MUSE?
The brand is inspired by the poet, Dante Alighieri. But if I had to choose a modern day muse, I would say Laura Bailey. I find her particularly inspiring, in the way that she knows who she is.
WHAT IS YOUR INSPIRATION FOR NEXT SEASON?
I’m just about to launch my new collection, which is inspired by Teardrops. It tells the story of a traveller girl, looking for something, gilded teardrops. Unsure where she is going, or if these elusive golden teardrops even exist, the collection follows her voyage.
For next season, I’m really inspired by the architect and photographer Ettore Sottsass, a trip I took to Iceland, and the idea of what jewellery means in ceremonies such as weddings, special birthdays, and even currency.
WHO SHOULD WE BE LOOKING OUT FOR?
You should look out for my friend Xenobe Purvis
– she’s an author, and her writing is magical.
CAN YOU DESCRIBE ROSH MAHTANI’S PERSONAL STYLE?
Simple. Blue jeans and a white T-shirt. Or cigarette trousers and big shirts. Lots of gold jewellery, of course! I don’t like fussy clothes.
WHICH IS YOUR FAVOURITE SEASON?
Autumn and Spring, because I like wearing cosy sweaters without a coat. But then, I do love summer… for the chance to wear huge shirt dresses. I actually like all seasons as long as it’s not raining. The rain makes me incredibly angry.
WHICH IS YOUR FAVOURITE DECADE/ERA?
WHOSE DESIGN AESTHETIC DO YOU ADMIRE?
I love Achille Castiglioni’s design aesthetic.
IF YOU HAD TO PICK JUST ONE ITEM OF CLOTHING OR AN ACCESSORY TO RESCUE FROM A HOUSE FIRE WHAT WOULD IT BE?
I have an old Vanessa Bruno dress, it’s just a long black, chiffon, slip of a thing, but I’ve had some great times wearing it. It’s come with me from university, to Australia, and back to London. I would be really sad if I had to lose the memories attached to it.
IF YOU COULD DESIGN A LOOK FOR ANYONE (ALIVE NOW OR DEAD) WHO WOULD IT BE?
I would have loved to design a piece of jewellery for Joan Rivers. I think she was such an incredible, hilarious, woman.
IN YOUR EYES, WHO IS THE HOTTEST PERSON?
I don’t think I have one ‘hottest person’ in mind. What makes someone really hot? A great smile, and an ability to laugh – sense of humour is everything. Having said that, I think that my mother is the most beautiful woman, for the reasons above, and because she is happy with who she is.
WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW?
Today, I’m listening to Cat Power, on repeat.
IF YOU COULD HOP ON A PLANE TO ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD WHERE WOULD YOU GO?
So many places… I’d like to go back to the quiet of Puglia. And I’ve never been to South America, so that is definitely on my list.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE CITY?
London will always be my favourite city. But I recently went to Copenhagen, and fell in love with it. It’s got the potential to be second best!
WHAT DO YOU MISS WHEN YOU’RE NOT AT HOME?
My dog. But really, I rarely miss home! I love running away to new places.
IF YOU HAD ONE WISH, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Just one? I wish that it would never rain. I absolutely hate rain. Actually, I also wish that my dog could speak. I know that sounds mad, but I really do.
WHAT’S THE ONE THING ABOUT FASHION YOU THINK THE GENERAL PUBLIC WOULD BE SHOCKED TO KNOW?
The designing is only a very small part of it. 90% of the process is production, costings, etc.. I probably only spend 10% of my time researching and actually designing my collection.
HOW HARD IS IT AS A FRESH DESIGNER TO GET YOUR WORK OUT THERE?
It’s definitely not easy. There are so many brands out there that it’s difficult to stand out, and to get the opportunity to show people your work. Buyers and editors are bombarded with new designers, so it’s not surprising that you don’t always get feedback. The hardest part is trying not to take it too personally, and being patient. I’m still working on that! I guess it’s just about continuing to contact people, in the hope that you’ll get a lucky encounter at some point.
WHERE ARE YOU STOCKED?
Avenue32.com was my first stockist, and I’ll always be so grateful at how they supported me at the very beginning of it all. I’m now stocked at concept store BJORK Florence. I also have my own online store: www.alighieri.co.uk
WHAT WOULD ROSH MAHTANI LIKE TO PUSH?
I’d like to push the new Teardrop Collection! It will be available from the 1st October!
Images courtesy of Rosh Mahtani / Alighieri