Drashti Pandya credits her mother with sparking her interest in fashion when she was a little girl.
“She loved dressing me up, with everything matching,” Pandya said. “So if I had a pink dress, I had a pink purse and a pink coat and pink shoes. That’s how all my family members remember me.”
The junior Fashion Design major grew up with a very specific sense of her own style.
“When I was little, and we had big family Indian weddings, I used to design my clothes and give it to the tailor,” she said. “I would go through the trends and all that, from famous designers, and I would tell the tailor I want it exactly this way.”
COMING TO MOORE
Pandya grew up in India, but came to the United States to finish her junior and senior years of high school at the Philadelphia High School for Girls. She found out about Moore from an alum who met with her art teacher at Girls’ High.
“My art teacher was like, ‘You should try this (fashion design) class at (Moore’s) Young Artists Workshop,’ and I did and I loved it,” she said.
Pandya is making the most of her time at Moore. She serves as a resident assistant and has a work-study job while carrying a full load of seven classes this semester. The industrious student has received several scholarships, including the Dolya Goutman Memorial Scholarship, the Elizabeth Swartz Fund Scholarship, and the Happy Fernandez International Study Scholarship, which allowed her to travel to Morocco in January 2018 for Moore’s study abroad program.
“The best part was sitting in the locals’ houses and eating lunch and dinner with them and them sharing their stories,” she said. She found the blue city of Chefchaouen to be gorgeous, and was fascinated by the dye tubs at the Chaouwara Tanneries in Fez, where workers treated animal hides with pigeon droppings and dyed them with natural colorants like saffron and turmeric.
MAKING HER ART
In addition to the beautiful clothing that she makes, Pandya designs jewelry using metal and silk thread. Some of the finished pieces look like tiny chandeliers. She learned from a woman in India who teaches in a school that her parents run.
“I started experimenting with it and I started doing tassels and different things,” she said. Her colorful sparkling and beaded earrings were selected to be included in the prestigious Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show, held November 2 – 4.
In the summer, she had the opportunity to work backstage during New York Fashion Week, preparing models for the Kollection Vol. 1 show. She also helped Fashion Design Chair Nasheli Ortiz-González backstage at Philly Fashion Week in September.
“I love this adrenaline, I need to get the model into the next garment, it’s amazing for me,” she said.
Pandya very much enjoys the close connections she has with her teachers, especially Ortiz-Gonzalez, Interdisciplinary Professor Heather Ujiie and Chair of Liberal Arts Kelly Kirby, PhD.
“They push me to go out of my comfort zone, but they know I want to design Indian clothes, with a modern touch,” she said. “I want the clothes to be worn in India as well as in the U.S. They guide me towards it and help me get better at what I do.”
Pandya already has plans after graduation in 2020.
“For at least three or four months, I’ll go around India looking for suppliers and different kinds of fabrics,” she said. “Then, I’ll come back here, work for somebody, then I’m going to start my own line.”
Her trip to Morocco has inspired her to come up with another challenge for herself. She was moved by a trip to a school that teaches poor children crafts like sewing, shoe making, mosaics and leather work.
“If I get to be successful and I have the money, I will definitely start up something like that,” she said. “I would go back to India and start something for the villages.”