ARUNACHAL PRADESH, ASSAM, FASHION, MANIPUR, MEGHALAYA, MIZORAM, NAGALAND, SHILLONG, TRIPURA
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Eight Women in Fashion from NorthEast India and What Sets Them Apart

The team at Roots and Leisure brings together eight fashionable achievers – one each from every state [8 sister states] of Northeastern India to dissect their ‘Fashion & Achievement Quotient’

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From top left (clockwise)  1. Rubu Dming (Arunachal Pradesh) 2. Jantee Hazarika (Assam) 3. Hannah Khiangte (Mizoram) 4.Maken Imcha Payne (Nagaland) 5. Juhili Deb Barma (Tripura) 6. Reena Ahanthem (Manipur) 7. Elizabeth Marbaniang (Meghalaya) 8. Selina Phurumboo (Sikkim)

This was an especially fun set of interviews because it gave us a glimpse of the breadth of fashion personalities that North East India has been contributing to the country and to the world! Even with all that innate coolness and genetically-passed-down poise (aka North East Swag!), these women still manage to bring their own brand of beautiful to their style. Read on to find out what fashion means to them and their secret style weapons.

  1.  NAGALAND

Maken Imcha Payne, Executive Director of International Recruitment and Relations, Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD)

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Photo | Maken Imcha Payne

  • How has fashion empowered you as a woman?

Fashion has always been my confidante, allowing me to become who I am and sometimes who I want to be, with no strings attached. It empowers me to be the protagonist of my own stories. To me, it’s never been about playing by someone else’s rules or blending into the crowd. My aim is always to stand out – and Fashion has been a powerful tool for me.

  • What’s your most dependable fashion choice to make a power statement?

To me, it’s all about eyewear. I have an enormous collection that I’ve acquired from my travels around the world but my favorite designs are from a brand called “Gentle Monster.” Eyewear embodies a transformative duality of utilitarianism and glamor that is quite fascinating. It personalizes me. It adds character, style and creates an impact without having to try too hard. Note that the style, color, and size matter in the kind of eyewear you choose to sport. The bigger the frames, the better (for me). And of course, it’s good to have a discerning eye for craftsmanship. [ Maken Imcha’s Instagram]

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Introducing SCAD to the people of Northeast | Photo Courtesy : Maken Imcha

2.  MANIPUR

Reena Ahanthem, Fashion Designer (Reena of Deepankshi & Reena Fashion House). Their designs have been worn by celebrities like Shilpa Shetty, Lisa Hayden to name a few.

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Photo | Reena Ahanthem

  • How has fashion empowered you as a woman?

I’ve grown up around people for whom fashion was a very honest expression of themselves. So, I learned very quickly to use fashion  as an effective means to express myself genuinely. This I believe, has helped me in building a strong foundation for other aspects of my personality – which in turn has brought me closer to achieving recognition for my work, empowered me to set up my label and reach my goal of being a successful business woman. Most importantly, Fashion allows me to indulge in the simple joys of life by experimenting with my look every day to suit my mood.

  • What’s your most dependable fashion choice to make a power statement?

I’ve always showcased my personality and treated it as my power statement. With Fashion, I can creatively project different facets of my whole being. – which I find extremely liberating and powerful! Also, I always make sure that high heels add an extra spring to my step. [Reena Ahanthem’s Instagram ]

 

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Lisa Hayden wearing one of the signature gowns by Deepankshi & Reena

3. MIZORAM

Hannah Khiangte, Fashion Designer known for her signature style of incorporating traditional designs to create modern ready-to-wear designs.Her designs have been featured in Vogue and Elle magazines.

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Photo | Hannah Khiangte

  • How has fashion empowered you as a woman?

Fashion has always been my armour. It has given me the confidence to be myself ; and being an introvert, it is my most powerful means of communicating with the world. Also, being a designer has given me a chance to empower other women by providing them employment.

  • What’s your most dependable fashion choice to make a power statement?

Personally, a white shirt because you can always style them up or style them down. But, you don’t necessarily have to wear something to feel powerful, you just have to own it.[Hannah Khiangte’s Instagram]

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Pink movie star ‘Andrea Tariang’ in Hannah Khiangte Official | Photo Courtesy: @hannahkhiangteofficial on Instagram

4. ARUNACHAL PRADESH

Rubu Dming, Founder and Creative Director of Delhi based fashion house – Dming Rubu. Her designs have graced the runways across Fashion Weeks in India, HongKong; and have been flaunted by Bollywood actresses like Sonam Kapoor and Alia Bhatt.

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Photo | Rubu Dming presenting at the Lakme Fashion Week

  • How has fashion empowered you as a woman?

I feel the fashion industry is one of the very few industries out there that has almost no bias against any gender [my personal opinion]. So, it’s not just empowering to me as a female, but to the career-driven individual in me. Fashion is my access to entrepreneurship. It has allowed me to stand as an equal on a platform with other equally passionate entrepreneurs.

  • What’s your most dependable fashion choice to make a power statement?

My sneakers! I can’t do without them. [Rubu Dming’s Instagram ]

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Alia bhatt in DMING | Photo Courtesy : Rubu Dming

5. ASSAM

Jantee Hazarika, Model – Ranked Top 10 in Femina Miss India and 1st Runner-Up in India’s Next Top Model 

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Photo | Model Jantee Hazarika from Assam

  • How has fashion empowered you as a woman?

For me, fashion is one of the best ways to express myself. I have learnt so much as a model, and have received tons of appreciation that today, I am bolder as a person. I no longer feel constrained by my choices – but rather celebrate my individuality and my unique tastes. This has made me more confident in general.

  • What’s your most dependable fashion choice to make a power statement?

I deeply believe that staying in touch with your roots keeps you grounded. So, wearing a saree is a perfect way to do that, and also to show off the wonders a nine yard of clothing can do. Not just the saree, I find most traditional attires to be really elegant, and I feel that we should embrace them every once in a while. [Jantee Hazarika’s instagram]

  6. SIKKIM

Selina Phurumboo, Fashion and Lifestyle Blogger

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Photo | Selina Phurumboo

  • How has fashion empowered you as a woman?

Fashion has always been a form of self-expression for me. I come from a small village in West Sikkim, called Soreng. I used to be shy as a kid. So, when I started discovering fashion as I browsed through magazines, watching fashion bloggers online, I got inspired to experiment with my looks. Picking out outfits made me feel as if I was discovering parts of me and piecing them together – sorta like putting pieces of a puzzle to complete the picture. This process made me understand myself better and finally decided to be courageous, and share my creations with everyone through my blog, and social media. I’d admit, I was nervous about criticism but that didn’t stop me – as I was keen to see how many people can connect with me.

It’s easy to criticize someone who looks/acts different from the norm you are used to. One’s tempted to poke fun at someone who wants to try something new (with fashion). But, I think of it as an art. I believe our bodies are like an evolving canvas, and we have the liberty to choose how we want to paint them, with colors that we find beautiful – and to be able to feel beautiful from within.

For me, Fashion cannot be dismissed as simply following the trends. It is, at its core, about allowing people to be the most authentic version of themselves – and in the process, inspiring others to do the same. Hence fashion is a great way to empower & inspire each other.

  • What’s your most dependable fashion choice to make a power statement?

For me, my statement piece to elevate my outfits has always been hair accessories. It can be as casual as having a pair of sunglasses push my hair back or a bandana, and on bad hair days, a beanie. I feel like sometimes we are so focused on putting together the fashion pieces on our bodies that we forget our hair. Having a statement hair accessory makes me feel confident because it completes my look. [ Selina Phurumboo’s Instagram]

7. MEGHALAYA

Elizabeth Marbaniang, Fashion Designer and Owner of ‘Boutique Jongphi’, whose specialty lies in preserving the traditional khasi dress through its contemporary designs.

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Photo | Elizabeth Marbaniang

  • How has fashion empowered you as a woman?

If a woman has the right attitude, is fit and is well dressed, she gains the confidence to take on any challenge, because naturally we are born strong. Having said that, my passion for fashion has led me to explore new opportunities, because of which I have a fulfilling and happy life.

  • What’s your most dependable fashion choice to make a power statement?

I love wearing traditional attire as a fashion statement. I feel most confident and beautiful when I am wearing the traditional khasi dress.

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The CM of Meghalaya presenting the shawl designed by Elizabeth to the Princess of Thailand during her visit to Shillong.

8. TRIPURA

Juhili Deb Barma, Fashion blogger

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Photo | Juhili Deb Barma

  • How has fashion empowered you as a woman?

Fashion has empowered me by helping create my own brand through my various forms of creative expressions (in my outfits). This obviously has had positive impact in the way I see myself, and today I am more confident because of that. Most importantly, pursuing a career in fashion blogging has given me a lot of independence – financially, creatively and personally.

  • What’s your most dependable fashion choice to make a power statement?

As they rightly say “It’s all in the shoes”, I have a theory about shoes. Everyone owns at least one pair of daily wear footwear suited for each season (like a pair of warm waterproof boots for rainy days or a pair of summer sandals) ; I call them the ‘in-betweener’ shoes. Not a lot of us realize that there are so many fashionable variants available that one can wear (regularly) without sacrificing on functionality. So I immediately like a person if that person’s “in-betweener” is a stylish one.

Well, that concludes our exciting women’s day series on some of the most talented & fashionable women from Northeast India. But, believe us, we have only just scratched the surface. There is a goldmine of interesting folks yet to be discovered – in the region, and beyond. R&L will aim to cover as much as we can in this lifetime. Until then, have an empowered and enlightened International Women’s Week!

Lungzeu

Lungzeu

Curator and Co-founder of Instagram account : Nagasstreetstyle. Mother of two imps and part time radio jockey; constantly scouring the internet and magazines, to keep track of what's trending in the fashion world.
Lungzeu

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