Today we’d like to introduce you to Veronica Tharmalingam.
Hi Veronica, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
I was born in Chennai lived there until I was 12 and moved to France, Toulouse first then Paris. Even though I am and will always be a Chennai girl, I wouldn’t say it’s just my Chennai background that shaped my work. It’s much more deeper than that, being of Tamil origin and growing up in that culture and being immersed in all the colorful sarees, gold jewelry and accessories of Chennai, Tamil Nadu and India contributed tremendously of course. But it’s mostly by watching my mother do her shopping for sarees and jewelry that I learnt how to mix and match colors and jewelry patterns that are not common combinations. The stories she would tell me about her mother, my grandmother helped me develop an eye for fashion and colors. I guess it is safe to say that it is kind of in my DNA… in the 30s and 40s my grandmother was very avant-garde and a style icon in her city. Even before Fashion Week existed she would tell her tailor to make an outfit inspired by a movie she saw and she turned heads wherever she would go with her sarees and would always mix match her gold jewelry. My mother was the same. She would place custom orders at the stores for sarees and gold jewelry with unusual color combinations that would throw off and surprise the salespeople, and they would even warn my mother that it was not going to look pretty, etc. She would be so sure of her choices and of course, the results were always amazing, and the store would order more and sell out each time. She was a trendsetter and couturier herself. She would tailor clothing for herself and us (me and my big brother) that would always have a wow factor. My mother had a very keen eye for fashion and what would be trendy in the future. So, I grew up observing all this and unconsciously soaking it all in. Ultimately, this is what led me to combine saree raw silk and jewelry techniques.
Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
It took me 6+ years to get this on the run. We officially launched September 2021 at New York Fashion Week (EEEEK)! And it’s been an amazing adventure so far. Bit to get to this point was very hard. Lots of stops and starts, life events newborn/second pregnancy/ deaths in the family, COVID of course, list goes on. I am happy we finally made it and are out in the open for everyone to enjoy our creations.
As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
When I moved to Paris, France I was scouted on the streets and became a model. I worked with major brands in Europe and Asia and walked the ramp for Paris Fashion Week for Haute Couture. This experience expanded my vision for style and fashion. This helped me develop my own style which mixes Indian boldness and French sophistication. I would always carry an accessory that was from India every time I went out and people would always stop me and ask about it. This is how the idea was born, I realized this is a unique combination of fabric and jewelry that could resonate with women around the world. I have both a handbag and a jewelry line at the moment. The name of the handbag line is the Rani Collection, which means queen in Tamil, while the jewelry collection is named Maheswary after my mother.
My vision for these collections and my brand in general is to empower every woman to cultivate her uniqueness. My bags and jewelry are a symbol for women to find and nurture the graceful authority and the regal elegance that exists within themselves. To own a Veronica Tharmalingam handbag and jewelry is to dare to express this inner warrior queen everyday with class, authenticity, confidence and style. This is tied into the names of each model, which take inspiration from unique women from the past and present.
The Rani Collection has six statement handbags that were initially designed for evening wear but evolved to daywear. I see these as show stoppers with bright colors and intricate details to make that statement even with a pair of jeans. All the handbags except for one are made of raw silk and are lined with the royal blue VT brand color inside. I am also a practical person and I do not like heavy handbags, so I made it a point to make my bags as light as possible. Even with the intricate artwork you will see on them, we picked very light and high-end materials. Another problem I wanted to solve was to have actual space inside the clutch for example. I’ve always heard my girlfriends complain about their clutch or evening bags not having space to put basic essential things inside them. Even my smallest clutch can fit a phone, lip gloss, car key and 1-2 credit cards (YES!! For real). Another thing I wanted to ensure was that these bags were versatile. By changing the way the straps hook onto the bags, you can achieve multiple looks.
The Maheswary Collection is my jewelry collection. It started off as my own private collection that I hand-picked from skilled artisans around India. I had not initially planned to bring these to market, but again, the positive feedback I got whenever I would wear these led me to start thinking about incorporating them as part of my brand. I developed a deeper relationship with the artisans and they are now part of the team and work on statement jewelry pieces – there are literally only one or two of each model.
I also wanted to have the Veronica Tharmalingam brand be synonymous with sustainable fashion. This industry is one of the most polluting and I want to keep our carbon footprint as small as possible by only sourcing materials already available locally in the market. Each season we use raw silk that is already produced for various events in India and thus we do not produce any additional material for the brand specifically. Same goes for the jewelry – I choose materials from what is already present and available. We also keep the numbers limited to be more sustainable too, we will only make 100-150 units per handbag model. The handbags are also made to order so unless someone places an order, we do not start making it. Of course, this means that there is a waiting period for each bag, but it truly means each bag is unique to you.
Veronica Tharmalingam is also about giving back to the community so we want to give up to 30% of all sales to charities that are close to our hearts.
Proud of: Oh gosh that’s a tough one, I love all of my collection as I literally handpicked and fine-tuned each and every bit of it 🙂 However, I have to say that the Aelia clutch and Suriya tote really bring together all of the creative ingredients and the peak craftsmanship of the Veronica Tharmalingam brand.
At the same time, I have a special place in my heart for the Gaja tote, as it was the first one of my bags to be featured at New York Fashion Week 2021.
On the jewelry side, I am particularly proud of the Kangana necklace that was featured in Vogue Portugal – as a newcomer, being mentioned alongside established luxury brands was amazing.
In general, I am at the same time extremely proud and humbled to see that our pieces are getting a lot of attention on red carpets like the OSCARS, Emmys and BET Awards, and from international editorials like Vogue, Glamour, L’Officiel to mention a few… and of course this interview right here with Voyage LA!!
I have to give props and am very grateful to my amazing PR Piera and her team at PRSOLO who have been advocates for our vision and the brand since day one.
We just dropped our latest collection today 5/2 which is an ode to The Maldives. You can check it out on our website at www.veronicatharmalingam.com and on Instagram: @veronicatharmalingam
Can you talk to us about how you think about risk?
I love to take risks, I think that’s what makes us grow because it takes you out of your comfort zone and you are forced to adapt/grow/and thus become a better version of you.
I left the nest when I was 17 from Toulouse went to Paris all by myself without knowing anyone, not even a single person. And that was the biggest/scariest/ adventurous risk I took. That decision and experience made me who I am today. So YES, for risks and getting out of your comfort zone. Trust the process!
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- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: https://veronicatharmalingam.com/
- Instagram: @veronicatharmalingam
- Facebook: veronicatharmalingam
- Other: veronica_tharmalingam for tiktok
Photos by: Sebastien Gonon and Coner Martz