When I first saw Mani Jassal’s extraordinary designs, they immediately appealed to me because I had never seen a unique, modern spin on Indian fashion. Whether it was her bridal collection, dresses, two piece sets or capes, I was in awe at the craftsmanship, colors, design and overall quality. The designs seemed young and fun, while still being sophisticated and cultural. I started following her designs on social media and have been more and more inspired each collection.
She just showed her new collection “Free Spirit” at Toronto Fashion Week and I want every single piece in it. I had a chance to interview her about how she got her start and what advice she’d give to her younger self. Check out her inspiration behind the new collection below!
NA: First off, a huge congratulations on your new collection “Free Spirit” which just debuted at Toronto Fashion week! Can you tell us a bit about the show and the collection?
MJ: The collection is called 'free spirit' and is a tribute to my friend Honey who we lost on June 1st . He was my sister's boyfriend. He was a free spirit and he taught us to live life freely and to not give a F*ck about what others had to say about it. You see that in the collection through the use of colour and rebellious silhouettes.
It was surreal to finally be able to launch my collection at Toronto Fashion Week. It’s a huge achievement and a dream come true.
NA: What makes this collection different from your previous ones?
MJ: I find that this collection is more rebellious than my other collections through the use of unconventional colours and fabrics, and most importantly the rebellious cuts. It feels more ME . It's a little bit more subtle and minimal than the other collections. As you may know I love creating rebellious silhouettes like the bustiers but I feel like I had stopped that in the past two collections since a lot of people were saying they were too revealing. In this collection I brought them back, more revealing than ever because they just feel more me and they may not be for everyone, but definitely something that is me. My designs are my art and I was free enough to design unapologetically in this collection.
NA: I see that you used more blacks and darker colors, was that intentional?
MJ: I love using black , it is one of my favourite colours to use in my designs from the get-go. I have always felt the need to hold back when it comes to utilizing the colour black since a lot of South Asians believe it's an unlucky colour. I have always rebelled against that concept and wanted to push the box when it comes to that concept. In this collection, I really didn't care what others had to say about me utilizing black since I love it, and I find women feel the sexiest in black. In my mind I kept thinking what would Honey say about this, he would probably have said "who gives an F!? Do what you want to do !" There are so many women that love wearing black to weddings even though the Aunties stay hating.
NA: You grew up in Toronto, but your family is from India and I believe you’re the only fashion designer mixing the two worlds at such a high-quality, innovative way. Can you tell us a bit about your design process?
MJ: Thank you so much! I am trying my best to do so. I think it’s important for me to mix those two worlds together through my designs. My designs are my art and this is the best way to express it. Growing up I always found myself keeping my Indian background separate from my “North American” upbringing. Now I am able to mix them up in my everyday life through my clothing.
NA: Wedding season is in full swing, how do you help a Mani Jassal bride find her perfect outfit for the big day?
MJ: All of my pieces are now ready to purchase and are available to purchase in standard sizes. We do offer alterations if the client requests them at an additional cost. I get to know what the bride is looking for on her big day, and from there I point out my designs that would be perfect. I have been fortunate to have brides that know exactly which design they want to wear on their big day.
NA: What is one trend we’re seeing in 2018 that you’d like to get rid of or absolutely love?
MJ: In 2018, we are obsessed with ruffles. You can see it as the detailing in many of my pieces whether it be on the skirts, sleeves, necklines, and saris.
NA: I know you got your start very young and watched your mother and grandmother sew at a young age. Can you tell us a bit about your upbringing and what got you into design?
MJ: I grew up watching my mom sew and I loved watching her . I used to take her left over fabrics and create designs for my Barbie dolls. I loved watching Cinderella and I used to re draw her dress over and over again . When I was 11 I decided that I wanted to be a fashion designer and from that point on I used to carry a sketch book around with me all the time, and design clothes. My parents were always supportive of this childhood dream of mines. However, when it came to going to University that’s when they were like fashion isn’t practical, and you can never make a living off of it. So I decided that they were right and I should pursue engineering (physics was my other passion), but I knew deep down fashion is what I wanted to do. So when push came to shove I chose Fashion Design at Ryerson University and followed my dreams. My parents did not understand at first, but then they saw how happy it made me and they are fully supportive. My mom is my production manager, and my dad helps me with my accounting and shipping. I would not be where I am today without the unconditional support of my family.
NA: Lastly, what advice do you give young aspiring fashion designers?
MJ: Stay true to yourself. Be creative and innovative. The industry is saturated with designers, but being unique and original is what will make you stick out from the crowd.