She imagines herself in every single piece she designs beforehand to be sure that they are wearable after they are made.
Pema Khando Terab, is a fashion designer who loves to play with natural fibers such as cotton and silk, and owns a brand named ‘Khandoma Designs.’ Kenjo and Comme des Garçons, both Japanese labels, are her favorite.
She wears an intense mood along with one of her own creations, a jacket to be specific, as she leads us swiftly towards her newly relocated design studio at Tinchuli, Bouddha.
At present, she has her winter collection ready, which in her words is “sophisticated, understated and chic.” The collection flaunts pleated skirts, harem trousers, boleros, long coats.
“I have yet to set things in order as I just moved a few days back,” she informs as we head towards her studio. Though her concern over such trivial matter might give one an impression that she is a perfectionist; however, as things slowly unfold, she comes across as somebody quite relaxed.
“I never sketch designs,” she claims. “I work straightaway with the cloth in hand.” The spontaneous designer visits India frequently to purchase fabric. This, she explains, is due to lack of variety and poor quality of cloths and fabric available here in Nepal.
Pema shares a special bond with India. Apart from being her shopping paradise, India is also the country from where she did her schooling. Also, she graduated in fashion designing from the Pearl Academy of Fashion in New Delhi.
Going to a fashion school or being a fashion designer was no serendipity for her. It was, in fact, a long cherished dream. “Flipping through fashion journals was like an addiction during my school days,” she recalls. From the long flowing gowns to ruffled dresses to the very neat stitches on men’s jackets, everything fascinated her and consequently inspired her to become what she is today.
“I simply love raw silk and chiffon,” Khando says, as she takes out a long dress from her collection and hands it over to the model. The delicacy with which she handles her clothes shows her love towards her creations. Pema likes to refer to the small pleats on the neckline of the dress as her trademark. Along with clothes, her collection flaunts bags and also pleated belts.
Apart from silk, she has laid hands on wool and Indian Matka silk or mulberry silk. The result is her collection ‘Silken Route’, designed especially for an art museum in New York, whose name she held back. The collection has a touch of pan-Himalayan influence with colors such as yellow, cobalt blue and maroons dominant. Khando informs, “My designs
cater to women between the ages of 18 to 45.”
For the local customers, Khandoma does have a plenty to offer. The Nepali fashion industry, however, has not been acquainted to the label. Pema till date has not participated in any local fashion shows and her clients are mostly local expats. The only store offering her clothes is the ‘pipalbot’ at Babar Mahal Revisited.
When asked why she has been reluctant to join hands with the Nepali Fashion industry for these four years she frowns a bit and smiles. “Maybe it is my reserved personality, or maybe I have no sense of business.” However, with opening up of a new store, she believes it is time for her to expand her business by providing her designs to stores around the town. She claims the industry is ‘getting better and ready for her type of clothes.’
She thinks the style or fashion sense of the people here in Nepal is “too trendy and more of a street style”. Her creations, therefore, sharply contrast for they are “subtle and understated”. Khando, however, does try to add a few pieces of ‘vibrant’ designs.
“You see, I emphasize on cuts and not embellishments and I am positive that people will accept my clothes the way they are,” sighs the designer.