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Life and Work with Devi Vallabhaneni

Today we’d like to introduce you to Devi Vallabhaneni.

Born in India and raised in Chicago, Devi Vallabhaneni is an artist influenced by her twin passions for haute couture and mathematics. As a child, she avidly studied her multiplication tables before dinner each evening, but she spent her spare time coloring, painting, building LEGO houses, and learning macramé, cross-stitch, crochet, and knitting. During summer holidays in India, she learned beading and embroidery from local artisans.

From high-school onwards, though, creative pursuits took a backseat as Devi prepared for a traditional business career. In college, she studied accounting, later earned her CPA, and ultimately graduated with an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Five years ago, Devi felt inspired to renew her creative pursuits, as a way of bringing deeper meaning to her personal life. She enrolled in fashion school in Chicago where she studied textiles, apparel construction, and embroidery. It was here that she developed her own embroidery techniques, building upon what she learned as a child. Given her analytical nature, she often had to calculate area, volume, square roots, and density to achieve the design and texture she envisioned. She relied on vintage sequins for her initial designs; the problem is, there is a fine amount of vintage sequins, so she had to backward calculate a mathematical algorithm to use what she had since she couldn’t source more.

Impressed by Devi’s innovative interpretation of traditional embroidery, her fashion teachers encouraged her to apply for the prestigious Hand & Lock Embroidery Award, an annual competition sponsored by the venerable London embroidery house. Since 1767, Hand & Lock has created embroidery for the British Royal Family, the Royal Armed Forces, and fashion houses such as Burberry and Louis Vuitton.

Devi won first place in the 2016 Hand & Lock Embroidery Competition with her vision incorporating color, texture, math, and volume, all the while channeling haute couture codes from Chanel, Christian Dior, Giambattista Valli, Iris van Herpen, Jean Paul Gaultier, and Maison Margiela.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I had no idea I’d be an artist today – I just knew I had to pursue creativity. By doing so, I knew it was something I had to do to be a ‘full person’.

The journey is all about having faith in the process and not the outcome. I knew I was on the right path but didn’t know where it would lead. The only thing I could do is to do my best each day, whether it was in fashion school, in practicing my designs, or whatever else it was. The outcome ended up being more than I ever expected.

Please tell us more about your work, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
I am a sculpture artist influenced by Haute Couture and Mathematics. To me, Haute Couture represents the purest form of fashion since it is made by hand, uses the finest materials, and is focused on expression. It provides me with ideas spirit, precision, and materials – which I reinterpret and translate using math.

My design process begins with creating mathematical algorithms in Microsoft Excel, enabling me to calculate area, volume, and square roots. From here, I infuse my emotional reactions to color, texture, and silhouette, cultivated from the fashion runway.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Devi Vallabhaneni

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