African Odyssey

This summer we dive into the heart of Africa, with AMPM’s new 2020 Summer capsule collection in the sunny hues of that continent. Priyanka Modi, Creative Director, AMPM, tells us how she’s played with local art forms, Masai masks, and Zulu prints to tell her fashion story.

Lifestyle Insider The Safari Edit, a special summer capsule for 2020 by AMPM

Digital prints have always been the forte of Delhi-based label AMPM by Ankur and Priyanka Modi. From botanical to Mughal, to boho, AMPM have run the gamut of artistic, meandering motifs to create visually striking pieces on the ramp, both at the Fashion Design Council of India-presented India fashion weeks at the Capital, and Lakmé Fashion Week in Mumbai. With fashion weeks at a pause during the Covid-19 crisis, the brand is stepping out of the box with a new, wanderlust-worthy capsule collection inspired by Priyanka’s love for Africa, its fauna, and art forms. We speak to Priyanka Modi about The Safari Edit in AMPM’s Amah’le summer collection.

In this Summer Capsule, The Safari Edit, is it a desire for an adventure to Africa that has inspired you?

The Safari Edit is a segment in the larger SS’20 narrative of our Amah’le collection, which is inspired from the progressive art, pottery, wildlife, and culture of Africa. A curated summer capsule of breezy silhouettes and handcrafted accessories, the Safari Edit has striking wilderness-inspired prints in beautiful sun-drenched hues.

My love for big expanses, wildlife, and adventure isn’t really a secret and hence Africa is always on my travel list. But it was my very first trip there in 1986 that’s still the most special to me. As a child who loved wildlife, it was a larger-than-life adventure, and three decades later I realized how deeply I want to express my love for the most fascinating of places through our SS’20 line.

Is it any particular trip to Africa that you are referencing in the collection, or a trip to a particular destination that you would like to explore in the future?

I was all of nine years old when I travelled with my family to Kenya for the very first time. That trip gave me such distinct memories that even after three decades; I can still feel the thrill and excitement of those extraordinary adventures.

Africa was one of the earliest places I explored as a child, and definitely the most magical. Our family went to Kenya for an extensive safari expedition. We went to Masai Mara, Lake Nakuru, Seychelles, amongst other places and the memories have been imprinted in my mind ever since.

Imagine what it would be like for a nine-year-old to be chasing leopards and antelopes, seeing huge giraffes and elephants bathing in the wild and coming up to our viewing deck. We even ended up having an elaborate brunch whilst a pride of lions sat a few metres from us!

It was this intense emotion for that land that I wanted to express for a very long time, and through our collection for SS’20, I got the perfect time to do it.

Since Amah'le is a Zulu name, were you inspired by any Zulu tribal motifs?

Africa has such a vast and diverse cultural narrative that it was not easy to translate everything into our designs. So we picked specific elements – the masks, certain types of artistry, unique motifs from their pottery, and reimagined them according to AMPM’s sensibilities.

Then there are the geometric motifs that have been derived from the intricate patterns on African masks and ceramic pots.

One of the most exciting parts of the collection for me was the motifs that we created from Tingatinga – a local art technique from Africa (more on this below) – and reinterpreted it through exaggerated shapes of wild animals and a reverse appliqué technique on our garments.

Lifestyle Insider Asymmetric lines, tribal and wilderness motifs abound in The Safari Edit by AMPM

There is a lot of asymmetry – what is the silhouette you were looking for?

Only a few discerning eyes can spot the asymmetry in the collection, and I am glad that you noticed.

Yes, there are a few asymmetrical silhouettes that have been seamlessly woven into our collection. I personally believe in designing a spectrum of silhouettes so that every woman can find that something unique that she is looking for.

Asymmetry and other pattern variations are part of our design process where we strive to achieve the perfect balance of surface design and form. So, if you look at our silhouettes closely you will be pleasantly surprised to see a sense of balance in asymmetry as well.

What are the fabrics that you have used?

We have used an array of soft cottons, easy linens, pure georgettes, and our personal favourite chanderi for this collection.

One of the highlights of this capsule are the luxe denim separates that are so versatile and effortless that you can easily dress them up or down.

As usual, your prints rule – what is so unique about your prints – are these all digital prints?

Our artistry is the one of the central themes of all the collections at AMPM. We spend hours and days deciding the right material, motif, placement, and embellishment. Everything is looked over numerous times to ensure that the prints are perfectly balanced on our silhouettes.

Over the years, our prints have become the most prominent icons for each collection. For instance, the geometricized tribal motifs in our 2014 Tribus line, the beautifully adorned horse motif in our 2018 Gypset collection, and the infinitely detailed wilderness-inspired prints in our latest SS’20 line.

This season, though, there are many artistic details and references throughout the collection, there is one specific capsule that draws inspiration from the Masai Mara tribal masks. These traditional masks are a lesson in expressionism depicted through thought-provoking patterns, abstract designs, and avant-garde forms. Square and triangular checkerboard grids are often carved or painted to decorate sections of the mask, which we’ve interpreted in our prints.

And then of course there’s the wildlife. I wanted to depict the rich wildlife of Africa, and during our research we discovered a brilliant art form (from Tanzania) known as Tingatinga, where the artist uses exaggerated shapes, vibrant forms, and caricature-style sketches. It was so unique compared to every other style out there that we found it perfect to depict our signature artistry in the collection.

These are all digital prints that were accentuated with a reverse appliqué technique from Africa, metallic studs, kodi shells, hammered buttons, leather patchwork and fringes, which rest harmoniously with craft techniques from India like dori work, thread embroidery, screen-printing, and appliqué.

Lifestyle Insider Breezy silhouettes in linen, cotton, and chanderi make for an effortless look by AMPM

Where does your printing occur?

A lot of our printing happens at the atelier with our talented in-house team supervising the process. We also work with a handful of local vendors and manufacturers who use the best materials and fair practices in the business.

As we move into the new normal, it is important now, more than ever, to focus our energies on rebuilding the core of our economy by working with local businesses and buying more from them. The future of our nation depends on this united effort to see us through these challenging times.

Who is the typical AMPM woman?

The AMPM muse is a sum of many evolving parts. She is a sophisticated woman with taste and a discerning eye, who would pick timeless quality over tentative trends. Not one to dwell solely on the given luxuries of her life, she leads her life with purpose and makes her days productive.

She has built her universe with a great degree of consciousness, and embodies an effortless elegance, very rare to find. A cultured aesthete with a love for the arts, she is a nuanced conversationalist and opinion leader.

Her refined style exudes an aura of quiet confidence that establishes her presence in any room she occupies. Her life is multifaceted and she juggles her many roles with equal expertise. Since she is so versatile, her fashion too needs to be the same, an extension of her personality.

Do you think fashion is moving towards a more seasonless approach?

Absolutely! Fashion is definitely a reflection of our times, and in these past few months we have seen a shift in consumer-buying patterns. The consumer today is not actively seeking ‘new season deals’ but looking towards investing in apparel with conscious and lasting values, that they can cherish for years to come.

There has also been a dramatic shift in our nature of work, which requires us to spend more time indoors than outdoors. Effortless fashion has become the call of the day. Today, consumers are looking more at natural, breathable fabrics that will help them stay comfortable through a workday at home.

Post-pandemic, we expect another behavioural change. What it’ll be and to what extent, is something to be seen. I expect that fashion will evolve in tandem with this situation.

Lifestyle Insider Shot in the desert around Khimsar, Rajasthan, The Safari Edit by AMPM ignites a sense of adventure

Where did you shoot this collection – and who was the photographer?

We shot this particular capsule of SS’20, The Safari Edit, many moons ago in this beautiful, expansive location in the heart of Rajasthan known as Khimsar. This land has scenic view of the desert, a calming oasis in the midst of the dunes and native trees dotting the landscape.

When we saw this spot near the oasis, we knew that this would be the perfect backdrop for our campaign. The colours of the desert seemed to flow seamlessly with the colour palette of this capsule. The idea behind the campaign was to keep things relaxed and luxurious, which was perfectly captured in those isolated portraits and slow-moving videos.

The campaign was shot by an extremely talented photographer and art director Pranoy Sarkar, who has an eye for capturing landscapes in their most undiluted form.

During this time, we are all dreaming of escaping... how do you think that The Safari Edit makes us dream of travel?

Even though we are at home, this campaign gives us a sense of wanderlust with its isolated imagery and brilliant composition.

Of course, when we shot this campaign in the beginning of the year, nobody could have predicted how the world will change in only two months. With people retreating into their personal spaces and travel coming to a standstill, this campaign today holds a special significance in the hearts and minds of people, who would want to travel to these stunning locations without any restrictions.

Until the situation normalizes, we only have these breathtaking and exquisite pictures to virtually transport us to destinations that will inspire our future travels.

How many pieces does this collection have?

The Amah’le SS’20 collection comprises of approximately 95 pieces that are versatile in their use, effortless in style, and quite simply, timeless.

(You can now shop Amah’le at 30 percent markdowns during AMPM’s Summer Sale between 15 – 31 July on and across AMPM stores.)


Priya Kumari Rana

Lifestyle Insider is a kind of junction point, connecting people with diverse interests that touch on the more luxurious aspects of lifestyle – fashion, design, travel, food and spirits, art, watches and jewellery, cars, yachts, and aviation, and technology. People today don’t fit into boxes and categories. In our individual ways, we are interested in diverse themes, products, and the challenges that face our world today. You will judge how well this effort of mine caters to your passions and proclivities.

Lifestyle Insider is a showcase of all that is beautiful and luxe. Behind every creation, is a designer, chef, entrepreneur, or a design maison. I have delved into my own appreciation for objetsde luxe that I have admired over the years – be it a love of fashion from the world’s top Parisian and Italian fashion maisons and their ’90s muses, or the care that goes into sari and Indian textile collections in my own family. Growing up on four continents, as the daughter of a former Indian Ambassador, I’ve seen a remarkable array of historic places and met a myriad people. My aim is to bring my world view into this website, a curation of what I find particularly stunning, unique, and newsworthy.

It’s an exciting time for brands all over the world. With change comes opportunity. With the global ‘reset’ and uncertainty on many fronts, there is a chance to write a new script. Let’s be those pioneers.

A bit about me:
A luxury and fashion journalist with 25 years of experience in publishing and magazine journalism, I have edited some of India’s top fashion and luxury magazines. I got my BA in Comparative Literature from UC Berkeley, and went on to receive my Master’s in English and French from the University of Strasbourg, France. I have also studied German and Film. I live in Gurugram, India, and look forward to once again exploring our world with a new-found freedom.

Priya Kumari Rana

Founder and Editor

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