I am Deepen, Fashion Artist based in Mumbai. Because I love fashion and its aspects of being a muse and an artist at the same time. I am a strong believer in self-love and advocate the same. Apart from making fashion illustrations for designers and brands, I’ve been teaching ‘Digital Fashion’ in Whistling Woods International. I identify myself as a gender-fluid being and my style has become a reflection of my identity and that makes me feel extremely empowered. I love to see people adding different quirks to their personal style without any fear of standing apart. That’s what life’s about, hyping each other up to celebrate the true selves.
How it all started.
My journey into surrendering myself to fashion began a long time back. Both my parents were tailors, they started a workshop over 30 years back. And now my mother runs it since my father passed away when I was 8 years old. I have vivid memories as a kid, going to the workshop and playing with a box of buttons, arranging the threads in a box all color-wise, asking a million questions to the workers about what they were doing. Literally talking to every customer who walked in about what they were getting stitched. Letting my curiosity run wild. I would watch my mother lay beautiful pieces of fabrics on the table and effortlessly cut them into pieces to make custom blouses for women of all shapes, sizes, colors, and backgrounds.
My first steps into fashion.
When I was 6 years old I remember telling my parents, I want to be in fashion and do something I truly love. My family definitely supported my dream and helped me earn a degree in fashion design. They always encourage me to explore my creativity in as many ways as I can. As long as I stay true to myself. While I was still in the second year of my course, I got an opportunity to work with the French Embassy in Mumbai to illustrate for a French learning book they were working on. It was the ultimate experience I would say. Eventually, I started freelancing and working on tiny projects on the side while I studied my way through. I realized my knack in making fashion illustrations was something I could take forward.
I started teaching Digital Fashion in Whistling Woods International and freelance illustrates for clients whenever I could squeeze some time. This experience taught me so much about myself, about the “real world”. It taught me how to deal with people in general, patience and value towards the gifts I have.
Today, because of social media, my Illustrations have been featured and recognized by international brands like Valentino, Robert Cavalli, Johnathan Cohen, Delpozo, Mary Katrantzou and many more. Something I had only dreamed of. And at this right moment, I am finding the balance in being an artist and a muse, for nothing but to Inspire and stay inspired, to explore my own being with fashion as my tool.
Let’s talk about self-love.
If it wasn’t for taking a risk of exploring my clothing as a 20-year-old, I would still be wearing ill-fitted jeans and a simple T-shirt. I guess it’s not a bad thing, just a personal choice. Highlighting my insecurities without hesitation wasn’t easy, looking very different in a crowd wasn’t easy. Looking at frowning faces staring at me wasn’t easy, although it has developed a lot of self-love, acceptance, and understanding. And that is why I feel confident in expressing myself through clothes.
Assigning genders to fashion. Not me.
Words are powerful and so are the visuals. I have always looked at clothes and accessories without assigning any gender to them for as long as I can remember. It has broadened my horizon of expression. I see them as ingredients to a complex recipe. It is very crucial to understand what you’re trying to cook, and don’t forget you’re a gourmet. Since I understood my gender identity it has always trickled down in my personal style, and it is definitely an add-on to who I already am. I believe it acts as an armor, a comfort, a visual aesthetic, making me feel good and empowered all at the same time. It surely elevated my confidence in the content I was creating.
I always say, “If you feel good, you’ll do good”. If your outfit doesn’t make you feel a certain way, change it.
With time and experiences, my perceptions towards fashion as a whole have changed, there’s so much more than what meets the eye. It doesn’t get easier, it is ever-evolving, you have to constantly learn to keep up and keep bringing something new to the table every-time. Almost everything is a collaboration, involving multiple people and ideas, being adaptable and true to your uniqueness is very essential.
What the future like?
My ideology has always revolved around wanting to explore as many tangents the industry has to offer, and what I have to offer back. Ultimately I see myself designing clothing for all the kings, queens and everyone in-between and beyond. I learned the importance of self-empowerment growing up with all the good and the bad experiences of living in a society like ours, where self-expression is not considered as a matter of worth.
It has taken a whole chunk of time, in the understanding of who I am, because sometimes I feel more masculine, sometimes extremely feminine and other times just equal or neutral. And I tend to capture that feeling in my outfits in terms of textures, cuts, colors, patterns, and layering. Small details, like the color I put on my nails, to how I comb my hair. To many people, it may seem shallow but for me, it is a matter of celebrating my time here.
An idea for future stores.
When I go shopping in stores, mostly women’s section, I’m always asked to use the men’s changing room to try them on, where a guy wearing women’s clothes is such a taboo. The sense of discomfort gets so real at small moments like these, making you feel alienated. One day I’d love to walk into a store knowing, being non-binary is treated with the same amount of respect with a space to change and not feel lesser. Knowing that you are welcomed in the entire space to choose what you want without being judged for anything.
I would design a reflection of my personal style with all due respect to the craftsmanship. I want to evoke the feeling of owning something exclusive, to me, it is very satisfying. Clothes that have no assigned gender, just a body of work. Clothes that are Fluid in nature to value your divine masculine and the divine feminine. At the end of the day, societal thinking will only evolve, once the individual thinking evolves. So, don’t be too hard on yourself, just flow through.