Fashion entrepreneur with an e-store, an actress, a designer, a dancer and the author of a book on fashion

Most of us would give a one-word answer to the question ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’ But Pernia Qureshi, even in her childhood, found it difficult to zero in on one choice. Dance and fashion held her interest right from her childhood and later, she found herself adding writing and acting to the mix.

So, Pernia is a fashion entrepreneur with an e-store, an actress, a designer, a dancer and the author of a book on fashion. Add to that she is also breathtakingly beautiful and has designed for some of Bollywood’s A- listers, notably Sonam Kapoor in the film Aisha. Pernia has also done stints with top fashion magazines in New York as well as worked with top notch Indian designers. Pernia was in Kochi to take part in the India Fashion Summit that looked at emerging trends in fashion where she interacted with budding designers, giving them valuable tips.  

Though she has never visited Kerala before, Pernia states that South Indians are very elegant and simple. She finds them very attractive. Elaborating on the reasons for attending this summit, Pernia says, “India Fashion Summit is a great platform where experts from the field of fashion, be it design, journalism or business, come together and participate in the critical discussions on the industry. It makes us aware of the challenges in future and how to deal with them effectively”

Pernia is very gung-ho about the progressive fashion scene in India, “It is evolving. From the first time Manish Arora showed at Paris Fashion Week and put India on fashion map to him doing a mass prĂȘt collection, fashion in India has revolutionised the retail industry. ‘Made in India’ is the newest trend on the block, more international brands are looking at investing in Indian market.”

Born to a Pakistani mother and an Indian father, Pernia’s mother has been a big influence in developing her fashion sensibilities. She explains, “My mom was my first fashion icon. I got my initial inspiration from her and was naturally inclined to follow her footsteps.”

Pernia is also a Kathak and Kuchipudi performer who gets stages across the country. She continues, “My mother was very passionate about dance and I started training in Kathak when I was 3 or 4. My love for dance grew from that very tender age. Now I’m a trained Kuchipudi dancer and I make sure that I take out time every day for it. It makes me happy and fit.”

After completing law, Pernia realised that her real passion lay in fashion and she interned as a stylist for leading fashion magazines in New York and New Delhi. It helped her grow in her career. Her next big step was styling for Aisha. “This was a turning point in my life. It was during filming that I got the idea of opening an online store to house Indian designers.”

“I felt that there was a gap in the Indian designer market. The designers were unable to reach their targeted customers in different parts of India and across the globe and vice-versa. With Pernia’s ‘Pop-Up Shop’, the aim was to cover this void and to create a one-stop shop for Indian designers. I wanted to build a platform where Indian designers could showcase their work and reach a broader international audience.”

Pernia also has a strong customer base in Pakistan and she loves flaunting Pakistani designs. Asked about her favourite Bollywood client, she says, “Rekha. She’s both elegant and classy, and probably the most stylish lady in the industry.”
Pernia’s love for films shines through in her designing sensibilities too when she says, “My latest collection is inspired by Amrapali, the film starring Vyjayanthimala. It is one of my favourite films especially for the costumes — the clothes in the film are exquisite, sexy yet Indian. I thought every frame was a painting.”

Not surprisingly, Pernia had made the leap into acting with a Bollywood film Jaanisaar directed by Muzaffar Ali where she also got to dance. She remembers, “It has been a natural journey. From the beginning of my career, I have been involved in films in one way or another. Hence, this transition felt easy. Muzzaffar offered me Jaanisaar after he had seen my dance performances. It was not something I was expecting but I was more than happy to try something new.”

Like she did authoring a book on fashion advice for women. She is on the look out for new avenues to conquer personally and professionally.