Introducing Futuristic Fashion Designer Amrita Avant Garde
Amrita Gill, known in the fashion industry as Amrita Avant Gardeis taking the fashion world by storm with her debut collection for SS22. She lights up any room – or Zoom call – with a newfound energy, unheard perspectives, and an attitude that no-one knew we needed.
When I ask Amrita to tell me about herself over Zoom where we’re both sat on sofas at home, she smirks at me through the laptop camera, gives off a little laugh and says “umm..I’m in my thirties. Maybe I will reveal my age at a later date.”
Snapping back into her powerful demeanour, she tells me she’s always felt an overbearing draw to fashion. After receiving a book of fashion designers at the age of ten, she knew she wanted to be a creative; reminiscing over seeing Westwood, Dior, McQueen’s works for the first time and how she was instantly inspired by these designer’s deeper messages.
Reflecting a transcendental place in society, Amrita combines past, present and future, elements of fact and fiction. From racist experiences growing up, and feeling that she was an ‘other,’ to being inspired by a time where we are all equal, universal creatures, Amrita represents the progressive youth that we are.
Discussing how Gen Zs and Millennials hate to be labelled, Amrita admits that she doesn’t like to be put into the box of ‘just a designer,’ stating that there is so much more to her work. Telling me that she crafts, creates and delivers beautiful subjects for people to explore and express themselves with, Amrita wants people to connect with her creations.
When asking Amrita about her identity and how it influences her work, she tells me that her partner calls her a ‘Brinadian’ – British, Indian and Canadian.
“I kind of hate it. But I laugh because it kind of reflects the amalgamation that I am.
I held onto the fact that I was British for a very long time. It was the rock here – Oasis, Blur, Pulp – of course, the Spice Girls which aren’t rock, but they were new age feminists. Kula Shaker and Cornershop, too – they had a massive influence on me.
Then there was my Indian culture. I had a non-traditional upbringing, as my parents grew up in England and were very much into multiculturalism, but I gained so much still. For me, the weddings and parties were most special – there can be hundreds of people there, everyone is super glammed up in rich colours and textures. Mingling, drinking and the food – it’s all so beautiful!
It wasn’t until now, coming back to England that I’ve realised how Canadian I am – and I love it. The parties I would go to with other creatives in Toronto had a big influence on me. There is a huge underground hip hop and electro scene happening right now, like Party Next Door. And then the people that you meet there, have late night chats, you get a sense of realness, of pureness, of their backstories and passions. And you also start to chatting about heavier topics. This was refreshing; new ideas, perspectives and thoughts that everyone is colliding with.”
We talk about the media whilst Amrita was growing up. Admitting she had some great key influences, Amrita wishes there had been greater representation of Indians or South Asians. Amrita reminisces on the stereotypical role models she had growing up, calling them ‘lame.’
“The obvious one for me is Apu from The Simpsons – owning a corner store, having an accent, or going into arranged marriages. It was sad. If I had cooler or more accurate representations of my culture, I think it would have helped me to overcome the racist comments and attitudes I had to go through as a child – that really affected me. I look at M.I.A, (who came about as I was a teen) and I love that she is a brown female that is killing the industry. Politically, she is a fucking good message. Everyone needs someone to look up to and see themselves in to think ‘hey, this is what’s going on in the world, what do I think about it? And also someone they can look up to and their expertise and think, hey I could do this too.”
Amrita has a deep-rooted romance with everything sci-fi, innovation, and futurism. She is in love with wondering what the world may be from another perspective. Amrita’s vibe is glamorous, too – she tells me the origins of these passions.
“I’m into the space age, higher dimensional versions of ourselves. I mix that with streetwear and my cultural influences from East India for some of my inspiration..It’s what I’m drawn to, it’s from my experiences and it reflects a big part of me that I want to offer to the world.
My dad always says “razzle dazzle” – which is hilarious – I’m like Dad, who are you? Haha. But he’s right, whatever will make you shine, allow you to feel like a King or Queen, and that God or Goddess that you are, is right. Be as free as you want with clothing and feel as sexy (or as modest) as you want to feel – all power to you. It’s about encompassing whatever makes you feel good in your wardrobe – being that from head to toe.”
The aura of our interview filled with anticipation for what is to come, Amrita left with me with a mantra.
Life is filled with challenges, moments that can make us feel like we’re knocked down, but the best thing you can do is pick yourself up again, love yourself, and have fun with your outer expression – fashion has such an immense power to transform your moods, transform your energy. So love yourself, adorn yourself, and have fun with your expression!
Stay fly, stay fabulous, you deserve it – you owe it to yourself, life it too short.
How does your identity influence your designs and your artwork?
I think identity is fluid. It changes; it grows as we do. As we have new experiences our identity evolves and I think this is reflective in my work. I hope it continues to! I want to continue to evolve and add fresh new perspectives into my work that I never saw coming.
What would your younger self – the person that felt a lack of representation in their life – think to the work that you are doing?
I hope that they would be proud. That they would be excited, fascinated, intrigued…and maybe it would motivate that ‘younger me’ to explore more, embrace the self, connect with others and have more conversations, and then go out and seize the world.
I see the older Millennials – like myself – the younger Millennials, the Gen Zs, and the new generation – whatever the fuck it’s called – and they’re doing so well. We are progressing so well. In terms of eradicating and transcending these labels, groups and boxes we’re often placed in by society. We’re harmonising, thinking about the digital age, about the bigger spectrum in the galaxy – or galaxies. We’re interested in so many other innovative, directional, forward-thinking topics, it’s a beautiful thing. I want to encourage more of that. I think that’s the future. A beautiful future.
If theres one thing you want people to know about your work, what is it? What element do you want to be seen?
I’ve always been drawn to quality, innovation, the idea that a garment is a ‘masterpiece’, and so I hope that they see that reflected in everything. Rich, exquisite fabrics, artistically driven and long-lasting pieces. And a huge sense of fantasy….
Also, its meant to encourage self expression, to dare to dress bold, to be an individual and to have fun with fashion. So I hope they get inspired to do so with the garments.
What is your first goal?
My first goal is to get my styles out their to the world, along with my vision, and then, I would love to collaborate with cool, directional and thought provoking brands and stores, there’s so many amazing and fresh creations that come out of collabs.
Tell me about your process of thinking up your idea, designing and creating a collection?
I think ideas are manifestations of various subconscious and conscious cues through life, so while an idea of mine for a collection can sometimes pop up after listening to an asap mob or travis scott track (standard) or
after exploring a metaphysical theory (any), or seeing a cool, beautiful and different fabric, I think it comes about from a variety of things leading up to that moment that finally accumulate into that ‘aha’ moment.
What do you do to feel creative?
Unless I’m doing something heavily monotonous and mindnumbing, I usually feel pretty creative, and have the urge to act on it. But what helps me if I’m in a rut, is getting up and working with my hands, trying different activities or projects that I’m not use to, or looking at materials or objects and just meditating on them and taking them in.
Who inspires you the most? Both in life and fashion – and why?
Hmmm that’s a great question.
In life, it would be my family and my partner the most. They’re so positive, open-minded and non judgmental (usually) haha! They give me unconditional love, its a beautiful thing.
In fashion, once upon a time I would’ve said the greats, McQueen, Galliano, Mugler, Schiaperreli, Andre Courreges, but now just seeing the whole community in fashion is inspiring…you see so many different people with different perspectives, overcoming adversaries and doing the damn thing. There’s so much to be offered, and I think it makes the world the better and more diverse place; there’s something for everyone.
Lastly, David Lynch. For so many reasons.
Who are the female and feminists who have had a impact on you?
Spice Girls, Sophia Singh Dulhan and then Shirley Manson (Garbage) Bethan Gibbons (Portishead) and Bjork. Oh yeah and Miley Cyrus…I love her, she’s such a free being, her fashion her attitude of not giving a fuck, and being herself in all its glory. It’s fucking marvellous.
What is the wildest thing you’ve ever done, that has inspired you and took you on a creative path that you never expected?
Oh gosh, I’ve done a lot of wild things, I’m not sure I should go into detail haha! Probably taking magic mushrooms and going on a photo expedition that night with my DSLR….
Haha but more seriously, probably finally abandoning my career in my mid twenties, putting away all the fears and self doubt and saying f it…I’m going to go to NYC, I’m going to study fashion, work my butt off, and make this dream a reality.
How was it being in front of the camera for your reel instead of behind it? How was it expressing yourself in this way?
It was challenging, it’s one thing to take your own photos, and edit them, have full control over them, and its completely another to have someone else be responsible for that….and basically be vulnerable and ‘naked’ in front of the camera.
They’re in control of how you’re captured, and presented to the world. It’s a big deal. It was quite daunting at first, but I had to trust my gut and the process, I knew Ellie was going to kill it, and so once I got out of my head and just had fun with it, in the end it was pretty damn liberating and I couldn’t be happier with the results.