Tastemaker: Alka Mattoo Always Finds the Common Threads

Gutsy designer creates modern fashion with traditionally made textiles.

Alka Mattoo

Fashion designer Alka Mattoo is positively passionate about textiles. She was inspired at an early age by her mother and grandmother, both avid collectors of fine cashmere pashminas and hand-loomed silks. “Many of their best pieces were of the same style and quality as those on display in the Met museum right now,” she says. “As I embrace these heirlooms, my goal is to share this rich heritage in a meaningful way with today’s fashionable woman.”

At Orvana, her hip Princeton design studio and boutique (12 Chambers Street; orvanalondon.com), Mattoo fuses modern design with traditional craftsmanship. “My idea has always been to connect people from around the world through textiles. When clients come through the door, they are instantly inspired by timeless designs captured from global cultures.”

Everything Old is New Again: Traditional textile patterns and ancient weaving techniques inspire hip new looks for autumn.

 

Behind the designer’s bold collection lies a vibrant, soulful philosophy that inspires individuality of both artisan and wearer. “For example, we encourage clients to put their own spin on our wrap dress by pairing it with a boatneck shirt or turtleneck from your closet, and then adding your own tights or leggings.”

What’s In Your Closet? Princeton designer Alka Mattoo creates fresh looks to pair with her clients’ existing wardrobes.

Fresh autumn designs include skirts, blouses and dresses adorned with velvet. Shoppers are also snatching up striped wool kaftans, jumpers, ponchos, Yak-wool blanket shawls, one-of-a-kind, dip-dyed silk scarves, and fine-slub wool scarves. In the spring, cottons and linens in hand-blocked, batik prints will return to the boutique.

“People love our visual design as well as the construction and feel of the fabric we use,” says Mattoo, a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology. “We source superior fabrics and invest in the artisans we employ through ethical trading and by encouraging their creative development. Orvana specializes in hand-woven pashmina, literally the finest cashmere in the world, from Kashmir, where my family is from.”

Mattoo has a rich, multicultural background, having grown up in India, the United States and Europe. With a nod to centuries-old, Indian textile-weaving techniques, she has designed and developed bespoke fabrics and accessories for Harrods London, was a merchandising manager at Theory in New York, and developed a luxury scarf collection for Diane Von Furstenberg.

The designer and her husband, a Danish economics professor who works at Princeton University, reside near the boutique, along with their two children. On a sunny autumn day, you might catch Mattoo riding her bike between home and studio. 

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