The accessories designer Simi Singh, who makes belts, jewellery and bags under her label Black & Brown, talks about her life in fashion.
'I like to be extravagant with accessories'
I started choosing my own clothes really young, at about five or six. My father was a fashion designer, so I suppose I was interested very early. I wore lots of colourful things, from what I recall. At school we didn't have a uniform, so everyone liked to be quite fashionable and trendy. I loved pretty dresses and things like that. I was definitely quite girlie. I remember my first party dress: it was a cream, silky, quite poufed-up dress, but I thought it was the best thing. It was for my aunt's wedding and I loved it, dancing around on the dance floor.
I have been a bridesmaid a few times. It was, let's say, interesting. Different. A few years back, I was in a wedding for a friend who is originally from China. The wedding was at The Ritz. Her dress was beautiful. Mine was very traditional Chinese silk, the straight cut with the slits up the side. It was a really pretty colour, hot pink with needlework, sequins and crystals. I don't really recall going through any funky phases as a teenager. We had to be quite conservative at school since we were young, but there was a certain amount of freedom. We were quite London-school preppy, I suppose.
My mother is very artistic, and that's definitely filtered through into me. I've always been very creative. I loved art from a very young age, so it's nice to be able to do that as my job now. Although I grew up in London, my family is originally Indian, and my mother has some very beautiful vintage saris, which are a real joy. She let me wear one recently, which was lovely. It's lemon yellow in a silk chiffon and it has sequin embroidery. It's really beautiful - very delicate. I remember she wore it to my aunt's wedding and she looked amazing, so it was nice to be able to wear that. I actually wore it to my cousin's wedding. It's a classic wedding sari, very traditional.
I do like vintage. I've been to a few places in Paris and New York, and it's nice to come across vintage things that inspire me. I have this silk shawl from India. It's a family piece, and it has really beautiful beading. It's very old. I think nowadays I'm still quite classic, but with a bit of a twist. I like to be extravagant with accessories, which is what I design. At the moment I'm all about bright colours. I love Nicole Miller's fashions, and also Dolce & Gabbana and Versace. I love that couture look. It's a bit bling bling, but they do some really beautiful pieces. From a young age, because of my dad being a designer, fabrics are something I've always been very conscious of. I suppose that definitely plays a part in how I buy things now.
My father is retired, but he did classic, elegant dresses. He was based on the King's Road in London for about 20 years. To be honest, I wasn't really encouraged to go into fashion but it's something that I've always loved. I used to help my dad design a few things and I'd go buying fabrics with him, so I've always had a fondness for it and it's always been a big part of my life. Even when I was younger all my friends said I was going to be a designer. But I went ahead and studied classics and French. In my last year of university my mum started designing accessories, and we were doing a lot of private-label business for high street stores. It was 2002 and I suppose the belt trend was really taking off. I had a really good store on the King's Road. They approached me and asked me to do a few things for them, and it just evolved from there.
I've always enjoyed making things. I do a lot of the buckles myself - we bejewel them, and put stones on by hand - and I really like the attention to detail. I'm quite meticulous. So it's really nice to have someone wear your finished piece that you've painstakingly made by hand. I'm loving one of my belts at the moment. It's bright orange. It's very on-trend. It's a thick, high-waisted, panelled leather belt, and it's doing really well all over the world. For shoes, I love Jimmy Choo. I think they do really beautiful designs. But my favourite shoes are a pair of Louboutins. You put them on and you feel like a million dollars. I've got a pair of classic peep-toes in black suede. I was shopping one day and I'd always wanted a pair so I just went for it.
Black & Brown is available at Tigerlily in Wafi Mall, Dubai.