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Channelling the Sentimental Nature of Keepsakes

Priyal Dhaddha's garments are rebellious and experimental, yet rooted in the idea of heirloom.

Words by:

Anicce Crasto

Photos by:


Growing up, Priyal Dhaddha was surrounded by beauty. Her grandmother Hemlata had a penchant for handloom sarees, and her grandfather Gyanji was a jewellery collector who had a deep connect with the artisanal heritage of the country. Her childhood was spent accompanying her grandmother to the local fabric markets of Jaipur. The young Priyal was fascinated by her grandmother's eye for detail and studied her choices. By the time she was ten, her mind was made up: she would become a fashion designer. 

Hemji, launched in 2021, is then an ode to Dhaddha’s grandmother, her remarkable sense of fashion and a colourful youth spent around finesse and finery. 

The seeds for the passion were sown young. From her days in school, she busied herself in activities that revolved around mending, upcycling and creating from the discarded garments found at home. She sketched outfits, and developed designs. It came as little surprise to those around her that Dhaddha moved to London to pursue fashion design at the Istituto Marangoni. 

Upon her return, she settled into Jaipur quietly building her brand. She refined her craft, sketching illustrations into a notebook, studying garment construction and cut.


The Fashionista in You

Hemji allows you to embrace the fashionista in you, highlighting all that's good in the contemporary fashion scene.

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Designer Priyal Dhaddha working at her desk on a sunny afternoon; The heart of a craft lies in the materials that the craftsperson uses. Hemji works with embroidery and gemstones to create a vintage world for you; Hemji’s designs are like so many jewels in a box; each piece glimmers with a story.

She sought the advice of her artisans who transformed sketches into embroidery on khakhas. Working closely with her pattern master and tailor, she laboured over fit in a bid to create silhouettes that were at once rooted in tradition yet modern enough for the Indian woman. Slowly, her enterprise grew from one to six karigars and a tailor. 

Then, there is the undeniable impact of her grandfather, Gyanji. His love for finery influenced Dhaddha who adorned her garments with gemstones, elevating tops and shirts. But the gemstones aren’t simply adornment but a source of cosmic energy. Each stone carries its own strength and power and Dhaddha handpicks them after careful consideration. 

A deep connect to the physical and metaphysical world characterises her work. Savannah, Hemji’s first collection, revolved around the four elements of nature—air, water, earth and sun. While the second collection, Senso (Japanese for war), had the undertones of bravery and selflessness. 

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Teesta wears a ripped silver armor tank, HEMJI; Teesta wears a pleated midi dress, HEMJI.

Priyal Dhaddha’ approach to design has always been rebellious and experimental, but rooted in the idea of the heirloom, of generational wisdom passed down from elders to her. Her approach is also traditional and lost in time. She believes in a process that is slow and conscious, tied to the sentimental nature of keepsakes.

Now on her third collection, Dhaddha remains steadfast in evolving her own style, learning each day and divorcing fashion from fad. “You can’t force creativity…I’d rather enjoy the process, the journey of creating masterpieces and focus on something that lasts and can be passed down to generations. And that takes time,” she says.

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Each jar on these racks contain gemstones of various kinds. Through the alchemy of the designer’s hands, these gemstones will be incorporated into embroideries; Maria wears a ray-set, HEMJI.
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A glimpse of the space where the magic of hand-embroidery happens; Hidden within the earth's embrace for millennia, gemstones are nature's finest treasures.

Anicce Crasto

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