‘SOUL’ BERG TO SOLBERG A FASHION JOURNEYby opinion express November 1, 2013 0 comments
In a tranquil segment of overtly busy roads of Calangute in Goa,the road suddenly takes a swing amidst many newly constructed shops and economic resorts and bee lined trees towards an unique Portuguese styled brown and off white secluded villa home which barely hints at who its occupant is or may be unknown to its neighbors. But this villa is the epicentre nerve wing of Goa’s much loved Scandinavian designer well known for her style in Goan society who recently launched her fashion label that will soon become a brand in Goa and India. For this is the abode of Inger Solberg the lady who coined her designer label simply ‘Solberg’ and fondly termed by her well wishers as a fashion diva. In her own words, “My women oriented garments are not as simple as are the unique garments on display. They could be called fusion-fashion, uniting the best of East and West. Wonderful Indian materials, embroidered by local craftsmen, styled in my own unique way, I desire to be associated to create outfits and accessories for Indian women. I love India, but I am a Viking. I have a statuesque figure which made it difficult for me to find elegant outfits in Indian stores.
I could not help but notice that many Indian ladies share this problem. That’s why I produce my designs in many sizes. They start small but go to XXL.Today her idea has taken firm ground and she intends to spread its roots as far as the catwalks of Delhi, Mumbai Chennai, Kolkata and other fast growing fashion conscious towns in India.
But how did it all got started?
So far, in Goa mostly insiders know Inger’s name. In Europe Inger Solberg’s designer wear is a popular brand especially in her home country Norway and Denmark where she has lived for many years. After receiving a degree in fashion design in Copenhagen, she started her own line of couture. For many years, she sold her clothes in exclusive shops all over Europe and the USA. International celebrities like Tina Turner, Diana Ross, Cindy Lauper and many royals flaunted her outfits. Her last show in Paris in 1999 carried the title ‘Luxus Hippie’. And it was uproar there.She credits her Paris stint with the finesse, the elegance and the refinement that are the hallmark of her clothes today. On her career upswing, her collective designing ideas prompted herself to move back to Goa. “It was the best move of my life, as I became this person who could concentrate on what I wanted for myself and my clothing philosophy. The very first collection I presented to Goa was a runaway hit,” she says. “I began to put the flavor of Goa into the clothes, giving India its first ‘resort wear’ garments. It’s a tremendous success especially after the launch on Oct 19th. I am indeed blessed with the massive quality turn out o 19th Oct with ‘Senorita’ singer flying in from Mumbai for this elite launch and our own Goan celeb socialites from the Hospitality department,Government folio and close friends from different countries gracing my dream occasion. The clothes vanished in a jiffy as it got purchased for its great demand and style. Everyday I am learning a lot in Goa and it’s an incredible feeling that I could become anyone I chose to become. Goa gave me that confidence in me.”
The Melting Pot
“Goa trotted me along the path I visualized. I realized then that it was not only about the clothes. It was about creating a design philosophy unique not just in India but in the world.” That’s when the trademark ‘Solberg’ style began to develop. I reintroduced fashion in the late ’80s and early ’90s which was marked on brightly-colored silk with embroidery on monochromatic clothes and on humble cotton with bling embroidery. “It was a revolution.
The shopping elite of Goa exclaimed “What are these simply yet stunning cotton and silk clothes doing on high fashion racks?”” she explains. “The media was as puzzled,” she adds. “But after observing the collections, they saw the philosophy behind her creative thoughts. The much needed words ‘Eco- friendly’, ‘Minimalism’, ‘Asymmetric’, ‘Resortwear’ and ‘Goan Design’ entered the Indian fashion radius. Born in Goa.”For her present collection now avail- able in Candolim, Goa, Inger chose the same theme. All the garments are light and easy to wear. The materials are high quality silk and cotton; most of them embroidered and embellished in one way or another. “The clothes are meant to fit any occasion. You can wear them at the pool or the beach and carry them to a Party later on. They are fun, but not overdone”, says Inger.
There are sketches of Goa in all her work. “I desire to put Goa on the fashion map and give it its apt place in the Euro fashion industry. Though I was a mere individual in that process, I am glad to note that it materialized,” states Inger, not without some pride. Still, her move to Goa was not without obstacles. The fabrics and colors she needed for her work was unavailable in Goa. She recalls that she would often take numerous trips to Rajasthan to buy material or to get fabric dyed in colors she needed. “Friends and people said I was insane to dwell in Goa, that it was professional suicide to live here instead of any big fashion capital. But I loved Goa so much that I intend to stay rooted here. Not Norway. Not Rome. Not Paris. Not New York. Not London. Each day I go back to Candolim with a heart full of happiness.”
“Art form is the mantra in my business,” But having said that, she promptly points out that she’s no amateur in the finance department either. “Give quarter lakh of rupees and challenge me to make it into a lakh and I will, very easily,” she confesses. And while she admits to not being a business woman in the traditional mould, she prides in calling herself a self made one.
She also designs exquisite bling pillows, blankets and curtains in a style that fits into any home it looks good with modern minimalism and antique furniture. Her bags are great companions at an art opening, a party or at the beach and they are big enough to carry a bit more than only a cell phone. She is in all praise for the Indian crafts fraternity. “If we do not look after the well being of these craft people it will be a dishonor. I hope the government supports and encourages the weaving units she plans to start,” she articulates. She is stoic when asked what her future plan. “It is apt to speak about the future when the future becomes a reality to stay on. I have no inkling on what is in store for me. But whatever it is I will accept it with dignity as part of Lord’s words for me.” Amen to that.
Inger’s friends already have ear-marked her boutique as the new ‘shop down the block’ when they need a trendy outfit. For the public SOLBERG fashion boutique is on the Main Road in Candolim, close to Pedro Martina Resorts, opposite Toto’s Bar and Restaurant near the Old Ice Factory in Goa.
– Carlyta Mohini: OE News Bureau