behind the genius: shefali patel
Illustrators are the new bloggers. From Ann Shen to Jenny Walton, I recently find myself obsessed with what my favorite Insta-artists are buying, wearing, and drawing. But my favorite to follow is my friend Shefali Patel. I met her in our business fraternity at UGA, whence she graduated early, travelled Europe in style, and then began her study of fashion design at Parsons. Oh, and did I mention she interned at Ralph Lauren and dressed Cindy Bruna for their Spring 2016 show? NBD.
Shefali is the life of the party but also a class act. She exudes the confidence and composure of someone who isn't over-self-important...but is also one-hundred percent going to dominate the industry. I personally can't wait to keep following her quick rise to fame, and all the adventures and art she creates along the way. So now, introducing America's next great petites designer!
HOW DID YOU GET STARTED IN FASHION & HOW DID YOUR ARTISTIC INTEREST IN THE FIELD BEGIN?
As cliché as it sounds, I have been interested in fashion since I was a little girl. Whether I was doodling my own ensembles or playing dress-up with my Barbies, I was always envisioning a look and designing a brand. To me, fashion means showing exactly who you are without having to speak and I am constantly trying to communicate that through my designs and through my own personal style. I have always been mesmerized by timeless icons such as Ralph Lauren and Chanel, both of whom focus on style rather than fashion making them elegant, sophisticated, recognizable, and timeless.
My own brand in this field began with a void of elegant, feminine classics in the petites women’s industry. I was constantly battling, and I am still constantly struggling, to find the perfect fit and fusion of luxurious fabrics, flattering silhouettes, and classic looks that are made for petite women. Once I recognized that my distinct aesthetic of sultry sophistication and classic silhouettes is an incredibly lucrative market in the Petite Women's Industry that has not yet been tapped to its full potential, I knew that I had to fill the void with my vision. Therefore, I communicate and conceptualize my vision through fashion illustrations and mood boards of gorgeous fabrics and brilliant hues.
What I love about fashion illustration is that it’s a quick snapshot of the mood you want to portray for the season. It doesn’t have to be perfect like a technical drawing, but it can be whatever you want it to be because you are still in the genesis of your conceptualizing phase of your season! Also, I’m obsessed with watercolor and how light and airy it can be!
WHO ARE YOUR FAVORITE ILLUSTRATORS TO FOLLOW?
I adore “Blairz” on Instagram. Blair Breitenstein's signature look is big lips, big hair, big lashes and Brigitte Bardot. She brings out the badass in me with her over-the-top attitude and “come hither” lashes. I just saw her work in Harper’s Bazaar and it was amazing!
Another favorite is Dallas Shaw, of course. Her illustrations hit a little closer to home for me. If I could describe my own developing illustration style, it would be a fusion of Blairz and Dallas Shaw. Dallas Shaw’s drawings are whimsical, light, feminine, and always very pretty. Plus, the illustrator herself is stunning—so who doesn’t want to look like that and be that talented? Her work has been featured in Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, Chanel, Ralph Lauren, and more.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU MOST?
Understated elegance and cultural refinement. Which is why I’m obsessed with wearing monochromatic muted colors. I think the most sophisticated people are subtle in their elegance and that’s what makes it luxurious. What inspires me is the secret and exclusivity of being part of “the club.” Its an unspoken, mysterious je ne sais quoi that you evoke. It’s a simple, classic elegance that you can’t describe. That is what inspires me and that is what I strive towards everyday, in not only my attire but in the way I live my life.
I am also very inspired by luxurious silks and how they drape a woman’s curves.
WHAT ARE YOUR DREAMS FOR DURING AND AFTER DESIGN SCHOOL?
Wow that’s a broad question—but I will try to sum it up:
During my two-year associates fashion design program at Parson’s New School: Learn everything I need to know about sewing, draping, sketching, and patternmaking. Understand the fundamentals.
After Parson’s: Work for a company that not only inspires me, but has the same aesthetic and target market I want for my own personal brand. Learn everything from the genesis of the concept of a design to the sourcing of the products to the merchandising of its final tangible product.
Long Term: After Parson’s I want to begin drafting my business plan and building a solid foundation for my own company.
The Ultimate Dream: To design a clothing brand for Women's Ready-to-Wear, specializing in Petites with an aesthetic that stems from conservatively chic styles, luxurious silks, intricate beading, and feminine silhouettes, is a fusion of simplicity, sophistication, effortlessness, and opulence.