Helena Bajaj Larsen

University / School:
parsons school of design
Graduation Year:
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Collection – KHADI

My senior thesis titled Khadi explored artisan work across India. Khadi constitutes an Indian homespun cotton cloth often referred to as “the fabric of social change” due to its crucial role in the Indian Independence movement led by Mahatma Gandhi. My grandparents were dear friend of Gandhi-ji and Khadi was an integral part of my family’s value system. The fabrics used in the collection encompass a variety of Khadis (Raw Silk, Organza, Cotton Canvas, etc.) sourced in India and were hand painted (techniques I started playing with as a kid and slowly fell in love with) using acid and pigment dyes. In parallel, I began exploring metal work as part of an elective at school and decided to present a jewelry collection focused on surface alterations as a continuation of the textural explorations on fabric.

Born and raised in Paris by an Indian painter (Sujata Bajaj) and a Norwegian linguistics Professor, Helena attended schooling in French until the age of 18. After receiving a Baccalaureate in Economics and Social Sciences from Ecole Alsacienne with highest distinctions, she left Paris to move to New York and attend Parsons School of Design. Her focus from the start has been on textile design and the exploration of surface through print, knit and various other techniques. Although enrolled in the Fashion Design BFA, she attended Central St Martins in London for a semester abroad in a program centered solely on Print Design. Outside school, she tried to develop textile related skills as much as she could through internships (Rohit Gandhi and Rahul Khanna, Mary Katrantzou for Embroidery, Thakoon) and workshops in India. When her final year at Parsons came around, students were asked to create a senior thesis which told a story but also showcased the range of skills they had acquired over four years in school. Helena chose the topic of khadi. Khadi constitutes an Indian homespun cotton cloth often referred to as “the fabric of social change” due to its crucial role in the Indian Independence movement led by Mahatma Gandhi. Her thesis by this very name is a contemporary take on an old story which is both close to her heart as it reflects her family history but also embodies her passionate relationship to textiles. During the last few weeks of her final year at Parsons she was a finalist for the Eyes on Talent Award, the Parsons Future Textiles Award, the YOOXIGEN by Net-a-Porter Award, the and the HUGO BOSS Innovating Impact competition. Additionally, she was selected for the CFDA Fashion Future Graduate Showcase which resulted in an exhibition of the work by 69 chosen (by the Fashion Design Council of America) graduates across the US. Following graduation this past May, she was given the opportunity to apply for a Design fellowship in Haiti led by Donna Karan and in partnership with Rihanna's Clara Lionel Foundation. Fortunately, she was one of the three students chosen to go down to Haiti for the summer and develop a range of products with the local artisans at a design training center in Port-au-Prince. It was an eye-opening experience as she was given the chance to work with materials she had never used before such as horn, leather, ceramics, wood, etc. She was also able to explore products that were outside the range of fashion apparel, mostly corresponding to home interiors and accessories leading her to consider fields such as industrial design and interior design as possible areas to further pursue as well, along with fashion, textiles and jewelry. This September, she received the opportunity to film a television episode onboard the Queen Mary 2 Ship for the show VACATION CREATION, airing on ABC. The ship was doing a special "Transatlantic Fashion Week" trip during the first week of September and the show was looking to pair the voyage with a young Parsons graduate for their episode. Additionally, she was one of the six Parsons graduates invited to participate in a fashion show onboard which over 400 people attended. Recently, Helena was shortlisted as one of the top 20 finalists for the WGSN X ARTS THREAD Future Creator Award as well as one of the 5 selected brands (out of 600 applicants) of the Lakmé Gen Next Mumbai Fashion Week competition. Each year they select 5 young designers to showcase their work among established Indian designers at the country’s largest fashion event. She was also selected for the iD International Emerging Designer Awards 2018 and as a finalist, will be presenting her collection in New Zealand in May.