This week in our At Home With series, we caught up with art director and videographer Sarika Thakorlal. We talk about seeing the positives in making mistakes, her relationship with fashion and swapping London life for the countryside.
Tell us about you and the journey of how you got to where you are today.
“Well, my story is anything but linear! I came into the creative sector very much through the back door. I trained as a visual artist but later found the fashion industry a mystery and closed off to me. I worked in the arts in various guises, working for Damien Hirst was a highlight, and meanwhile discovered the social space extremely late. Art features turned into ‘gifted’ content; which turned into paid work. And when I started earning more in the tiny shoots I was doing in the mornings before going off to my low pay art studio job, the idea of freelance started to open up as a possibility for me. Although my work has always been paramount to me, I was also a very late bloomer in many ways. I’ve made many mistakes (and probably still do) but I’ve discovered that being an outsider can have its advantages, too. You have a unique perspective, and that can be your super power. For all its faults, Instagram has been good to me in many ways. I am proof that you don't need a huge audience in order to monetize your offering in a meaningful way; once that idea finally unlocked for me, it just continued to evolve from there very organically. For a long time I had zero idea of what I was doing; I just kept doing what felt fun, worked really hard and followed the momentum. Today, I can see that not by knowing the rules, but by following my own instinct, I was able to create something that was quite new. My focus is always pivoting now, as I take my cues from the evolving digital landscape in front of me.”
You moved around a few times, going from London to the countryside more recently. How has your life changed since, and what have been the positives from leaving your home town?
“I’ve actually lived in different parts of the Cotswolds for over a decade now (!) but struggled to settle properly. I had day jobs, but this new strange content creation work kept drawing me back to London - at one point I was making the trip every week for over 2 years. So there was a real sense of displacement for a long time and I ended up back in London pre-pandemic because that's where I thought I should be. But my husband and I just couldn’t find anywhere we loved as much as the ‘Wolds, so when we saw the first lockdown on the horizon, we dashed back, and actually it was the best decision. We really landed on our feet, and feel fully rooted where we are now. It’s a good feeling. London is always there when I want her. The city inspires me, and I feel completely myself when I am stomping around those streets. I always say that I’m half Indian, quarter German, and 100% London. But, nature inspires me even more and I have realised I need that space in order to let ideas grow and bring them to fruition. Practically, here I can have a house, a garden, a pet, a car parking space, and beautiful countryside on my doorstep. These are things that are simple, mundane even, but all which make a huge difference to everyday life. Having a stressful day and being able to go for a run on the Cotswold hills, or grabbing a bottle of wine and chasing down a sunset spot just because. I am so grateful for these little things, after years of living cramped and at breakneck speed. I think maybe I'm a professional outsider. Being a non-native means you fully appreciate and see everything that makes a place special. To me, London is home, and the Cotswolds are an adventure.”
Have you always loved fashion and has your relationship with it changed over the years?
“I have always been obsessed, fixated even, with the cloth that we put on our bodies. I have really sensitive skin, so fabrics are something I’ve also always thought about. It doesn't matter how good a piece looks, if the fabric isn't right I just won't be able to put it on. I would have studied fashion instead of textiles, but I told myself I wasn’t “outgoing'' enough to survive in the industry. That’s of course not true at all, but in the early ‘00’s the fashion industry was way more mysterious than it is now, and in my experience, the degree courses weren’t as sophisticated as they are today. During art school, my housemates and I would be studying textile practices during the day, and then sewing clothes at night. It was a cool time. Having only the most considered pieces in my wardrobe is what concerns me now. I love giving away beautiful pieces that I'm just not wearing to better homes, to make space for something perfect that I can rock until I’m 90 and then hopefully pass down to some grateful, cool niece. That would’ve been a dream come true for my younger self. I love thinking up some ensemble idea, hunting down a piece obsessively, and then tetrising it into my wardrobe."
What makes you feel good or boosts your confidence when you need it most?
“A good dose of blusher. A silent disco. A killer/ borderline ridiculous outfit: a huge coat is a must here. Oversized everything. Immaculate underwear (you can't underestimate the importance of correct underpinning under your perfect outfit!). Giving myself a pep talk in the mirror. No, not really!”
How would you describe your style and who or what inspires you most?
“Urbanite on a hike. A mish-mash of thrifted finds, select high-end pieces, and the odd robust high-street item. Sometimes absurd. Partly moving to my own drum, partly enjoying the hype. I like trends in the sense that when something I already love has its moment, the market floods with loads of great options (read: the huge coat, the gladiator sandal, the balaclava, and next up: the gilet). People will move on to the next New Thing, but I’m happy to keep stocking up on my favourite items, knowing I will wear them for years after. I actually LOVE stalking pre-owned designer sites like Vestiaire because of the randomness and discoverability. Having some restraint on availability or budget means you have to be more creative, and I think that's where interesting things can happen. In the future I’ll probably look like some crazy bag lady - but it’ll be a Fendi bag! I’m inherently in love with British brands like McQueen and Burberry, I think it’s that Londoner in me again. There is something about the rawness and grit of London style that will always speak to me. Cinema inspires me more than anything else; I’ve come to realise just how much as I’ve gotten older. The movies I’ve been watching or the music I’ve listened to that morning can really dictate how I’ll end up looking when I leave the house that day.”
As women, do you think how we view ourselves is changing? If so, how?
“This question could probably be its own segment: the female form rarely gets a pass without comment. There's a nuance between looking beautiful, and looking society “perfect”, and the role that brands play with their casting (even when it’s performative) has shown how the landscape has evolved. I truly admire the way that the Dora Larsen woman stands out in the lingerie arena: she isn't trying to please or placate, she doesn't bend to the male gaze: she just IS. Even seeing a tattooed woman is quite unremarkable now, but when I was a kid growing up knowing I wanted tattoos, it was a real taboo. You could even consider that tiresome question which the tattooed person receives: "What about when you’re old?” as a question that says a thousand things about the way we consider the elders in our society. Personally, I look forward to having long grey streaks like my grandmother and smile wrinkles. Seeing stunning white-haired models featured in top campaigns, and intelligent older women at the forefront of their industries using their voice; I don't feel minimised by society: I see my future self reflected in the world.”
What is your favourite piece of Dora Larsen?
“I have to say, I actually wear a Dora Larsen item almost every single day! I don't have time for discomfort or abrasive fabrics, and DL just ticks all my boxes! I’m often reaching for a minimal tulle set like Pixie, since it always makes me feel good but is also fuss-free. I’ve never met a full brief I didn't like, so that’s always the option I’m going for. I’ve also been in love with the strapless lace Mia set since I saw it modelled onset. It's easy on the eyes but is also a dream on the skin - and you know how I feel about skin.”
Sarika wears the Mia Graphic Lace Strapless Bra with matching High Waist Knicker, the Lotte Lace Balconette Bra with matching High Waist Knicker and the Pixie Clean Tulle Bralette and matching High Waist Knicker, all in a size 34B and UK10.
Find Sarika here.
Shop her edit here.