“I knew that one day I would enroll at IFA Paris!”
Graduated with an MBA in Global Fashion Media, Indian Prea Vani Varma became a phenomenon after telling the Times of India that Paris was the best city ever to study fashion!
Michel Temman: Could you first introduce yourself? Where do you come from in India and can you tell us more about your life and career there?
Prea Vani Varma: Born and brought up in New Delhi, India to a family that has supported a little girl’s dreams and aspirations to someday fly. I was 14 when I visited Paris, France for the first time and the first street or store I wanted to visit was Chanel on rue Cambon. It was then when I knew that someday I would fly to Paris to study more about her. I completed my Bachelor in English literature and Master in Public Relations and Corporate Communications from prestigious schools in India. Then, quickly after I started working in the corporate and technology world. Nowhere close to fashion and after working for 2 years, at the age of 24 I told my parents that it’s been 10 years and I wish to fulfill my dream. The next thing I knew is that one day I would enroll at IFA Paris, living at Cité Universitaire and working at Paris Fashion Week and at Fairs. After completing my MBA in Global Fashion Media at IFA Paris, I moved back to New Delhi and today I work as a Digital and Media Executive at the Fashion Design Council of India. It works at promoting and nurturing 400 Indian designers, stylists, models, choreographers and artists locally and globally. The main events I work on are the India Fashion Week (Spring/Summer & Autumn/Winter) and India Couture Week.
M.T.: You became a phenomenon after saying to the Times of India that “Paris was the place ever to study fashion.” How valuable were your studies at IFA Paris?
Prea Vani Varma: IFA Paris gave me an opportunity to study a course that interested me. The MBA Global Fashion Media is a course that helps us to understand the past and to find solutions for the future of Fashion Media. It gave us an opportunity to create, conceptualize and style a magazine and also an opportunity to visit Elle China headquarters in Shanghai to learn how a magazine can become interactive digitally with Super Elle. The faculty at IFA Paris was extremely supportive and helpful and that got me even more involved with school and my subject.
M.T.: You also said that to study with so many different nationalities opened your mind to diverse countries and cultures. Can you explain? I read that you felt you became “world citizen!” Is this right?
Prea Vani Varma: I very proudly call myself a global citizen today. Having travelled around the world with family and friends and then living in Paris for two years has shaped me into a global and social woman. My experiences have helped me grow professionally and personally.
M.T.: During your studies in Paris, you also worked and did some internships. Can you tell us more about these experiences?
Prea Vani Varma: I arrived in Paris in September just before the Fashion week and I was so eager to start interning. I got my first internship at the Ingie Paris fashion show backstage and I used this opportunity to meet and interview models for the IFA Paris blog. Initially at some places you might not get paid but that’s how one starts building contacts and experiences. I would suggest all students to intern for experience and not feel bad if they aren’t getting paid.
M.T.: You also directed a documentary about the conditions of Indians and Bengalis workers in the garments and textiles factories. For sure a life changing experience?
Prea Vani Varma: Growing up, I used to visit garment factories with my father in India and once I was able to visit Dhaka, Bangladesh where I met garment factory workers and their families. A school initiated by the American school was situated in the outskirts where the children of these workers were educated. At IFA Paris, during one of our lectures, we were shown the documentary - The True Cost (https://truecostmovie.com) and instantly the memory of playing with and teaching those happy kids gave me my project for the Capstone. The documentary The True Cost showcases dramatic stories and incidents that are happening around the world with the people who are behind making fast fashion. My project was to showcase the flipside. There are much less documentaries or studies that are showing the efforts that are now going into the safety and welfare of garment workers and their families. After the fire and collapse of garment factories in 2012 and 2013, there has been a severe downfall of brands investing in India and Bangladesh. The attempt to make a documentary was to bring back these brands to invest back as the kind of labor, fabric and materials that are available in these countries is extremely good and affordable. There is an effort that is being made to make situations better, if not perfect. And that needs to be given a chance. I visited garment factories in Manesar, an industrial town situated in Haryana to interview and document how garment owners are now investing in providing basic needs like meals, transportation and provide a safe and clean working environment. I presented the documentary at Cité Universitaire to international students who had questions on how they can help in spreading awareness or promoting a safe and clean working environment. I think we should all do the same because as fashion students and professionals we are responsible; we are the HR department for these workers.
M.T.: What are your new and future projects?
Prea Vani Varma: I wish to take this initiative forward, visit Bangladesh again and even other countries that are producing garments at a mass level. Document my experiences; work with the owners and workers to make situations better for the business of fashion. Fashion is not all glamour if at the backend there are thousands losing their livelihood. It would be great if fashion students dig deep into such topics and find solutions. I would love to guide them and work with them.
For more info about the MBA pursued by Prea at IFA Paris: MBA Global Fashion Media