interview: Monica Patel of Two collection

When I met Monica I had an instant feeling that that she was very talented and that she would be a friend as well as someone who's collection I am crazy about! Monica is one half of 'two', a collection of beautiful caftans that you can absolutely live your life in! They make you feel and look fantastic, they are practical, easy to care for AND they look great... all the time! In talking to Monica I realized that this is exactly what she was looking to create. I thought it would be nice for you all to get to know Monica a bit, because I KNOW that you all LOVE her caftans! (for one thing I can't seem to keep them in stock!)

Carina: To start with, I have to ask you because I use both ways on my website, what is the difference between a kaftan and a caftan?

Monica: It's a toss up, Seems you could use both according to your mood. Kaftan is a Persian word and has a more ethnic touch to it and Caftan with a c seems to be the French version!  Both are used universally..

C: Now, because I think it's such a fantastic story, tell us about how you got the idea for 'two', where it all started, I think there is a wedding involved right!?
My wedding really kickstarted the collaboration we had been talking about doing for years! 

Our wedding was in a gorgeous location near Portofino-Paraggi In Liguria.
When it came to deciding what the guests should wear I  daydreamed about my Indian aunts and cousins wearing their gorgeous sarees. Just something unpredictable and I think fascinating to see out of context!

The way it realized itself, it's an image I will never forget!

Piola my creative partner who helped me get started with Two was herself inspired to do a similar thing at her wedding in Rio. I sent her several sarees for her to play with. She ended up wearing a fabulous dress by a great Brazilian designer, Maria Bonita. Drop dead gorgeous. and had made all the kids dresses and her post wedding loungewear  of the sarees for post lounge wear. Piola looked stunning in them and I knew this was a match made in heaven. She is incredible with details and I adore her, even when she cooks, the onions are minced perfectly..!

At that moment I knew we had to do it. It felt right to me.
My goal is to modernize the textiles and find a way to make it wearable for someone's daily life, make it chic and push it to the next level , always keeping in mind, comfort and wearability is key.

The sarees themselves inspire us!

C: Tell us about the name: Two - I have a problem writing it, because I never know weather to capitalize it or not, I really just want to use your logo each time I write it because I love it so much, did you make it?
M: I wanted to design something with a handmade ( imperfect but perfect) feel that I would still like in the long run!

Yes!  the logo is lowercase but in an email i capitalize the T so it doesn't get lost among the too's and two's! I find it suits us..... we're happy..!

We came up with the name to represent mother and child and the  collaboration between us.
We want to eventually make items for both..in a design studio curated way.

C: How are you changing the world with your caftans?

M: First of all, I am flipping out on how much I am learning about sarees. I have always been in awe of them, the draping, the colors, just beautiful.

The part I love is that we are helping to save a tradition by turning it into something wearable for modern day. It's so satisfying to have that knowledge as its such an enormous part of Indian culture.
There are villages that depend on the future of handwoven and handmade sarees.. I wanted to make wearable items that can actually help keep a tradition alive, and make my customers happy.

Our goal was to make an item that lasts season after season, unique, special and so comfy you can't NOT wear it.

C: Tell us about the fabric, I think the sarees you choose are fantastic! We want to know more about them...

M: Most of the sarees are individual in weight, style, design
we design each dress/caftan according to how each sari drapes

I like to work with natural fibers that are super soft and wearable. Sarees come with a good amount of starch so I always prewash and treat them to get them soft. 

Now my 2 yr old toddler, Henri recognizes a sari.
He'll see me washing the fabrics and up and say, "Mommy, Sari?" 
it's the cutest thing.

This season we are testing out all types of fabric primarily handwoven and some prints. I am excited to go to India to pick out my own textiles face to face next season, as the past two years I have been sourcing from home...so I could be with the kiddies

C: Can I come with you!?

C: If you put you and your partner together I think you guys have lived all over, how did this inspire you?

M: Piola is a mix like me-she's half Spanish and half Brazilian, I am half Italian and Indian and it's almost like having two separate worlds, plus the one you are living in. I think it has allowed us to be exposed to each other cultures and learn about them at a faster pace. really hands on and gives you that curiosity and love for traditions and culture.

C: When I met you, you were about to leave on a vacation that I wanted to go with you on... it sounded great... how was Puglia, Italy in June?
M: Puglia was great. June was quiet and relaxing, we went with the kids and stayed in a residence called Masseria Alchimia owned by a Swiss German woman who fell in love with Italy years back. 
She's lived in Puglia for a while now and even owned a Trulli.

Caroline sold the Trulli and bought a Masseria and did a great job renovating it into a home with several apartments. One great thing about it, was having a kitchen to cook for the kids and room to roam. it reminded me of a Barbie kitchenette from the 70's. The property is surrounded by OLD old  Olive trees. There is a latteria, farm around the corner with ricotta and fresh cheeses..
Everything is White washed . My husband was ready to move there & the sea has beautiful tones of green and blues.

What i love is seeing the old mixed with the new, we were walking through Ostuni and there was a beautiful piazza with modern chairs everywhere and classical music (think cinema paradiso) playing. Just the juxtaposition of the old and new, culture with modern. I LOVE THAT. 

The downside,
The trip was a lot about being in the car to the beach to the hotel, to towns, I think with a baby and a toddler I would be happiest with a market on the corner and a beach front apartment so we could reallly RELAX. It was a little tough getting the kids to the historic towns and keeping them happy. 
Their schedules were off and after a while they got used to it. but next time it's beachfront with a mini market.

C: Tell us about where you stayed.