bisouNYC has a historic past, which I felt I finally needed to share. For reference, it’s pronounced, bee-zoo N-Y-C. bisou is a French word which means a kiss or peck and NYCis where I was born and raised and where the brand is based.
Like many students, I had the option to take either French or Spanish in middle school. There was something about France that ignited my curiosity. It was probably movies I watched like “Sabrina,” which romanticized French culture that furthermore, solidified my decision to study the language. My teacher, Ms. Weisman, was a short red haired woman with a fiery personality. You know those teachers whose student’s always come back to visit? That was her! Ms. Weisman taught French in the form of art. She enforced us to take notes creatively and always checked our binders to make sure we were using colorful pens. It seems silly but it was an engaging technique. In class we sang and laughed and learned about some of my favorite French painters today. I was always a creative person and she nurtured my love for the arts. I became confident in my ability to self-express through projects I would work on at the community temple. As I grew older I dedicated more time and effort into sketching and drawing. It really became a meditative practice for me.
My hobby quickly grew into a passion and fondness for Indian fashion. I often travelled to Gujarat, India with my parents and would spend hours shopping with them at local retailers for traditional apparel, designed by artisans. Soon my style began to evolve and although the embroidery techniques were breathtaking, I felt there was a gap in design elements that I could relate to. I wanted to wear modern silhouettes that embodied traditional elements. I found more options when I visited Bombay for my first time in my 20s and immediately found what I had in mind but it wasn’t the case when I went back the following time. I realized I couldn’t depend on simply finding what I was looking for anymore. Luckily tailors are at every corner block in Mumbai and with some research I was able to find a reasonably talented one. So I sketched and put my designs into production!
I became engrossed in fashion and began to research elements of design such as the designer him/herself. There were several South Asian fashion designers who would frequent New York and I found an opportunity to get to understand the world a bit closer. I modeled for well-known Indian and Pakistani designers such as Manish Arora, Payal Singhal, Manish Malhotra, and Nomi Ansari, among others and I found it was a distinguished opportunity to understand key elements of the entire production.
In December 2014 I had an idea to create an e-commerce boutique. It would provide worldwide access to curated designer Indian clothing customized to individual measurements. I had to give my brand a name. I kept thinking back to the catalyst of my love for art and fashion – it was indeed Ms. Weisman. It is the culmination of a dedicated teacher to her students and the convergence of what is precious to me. As a nod to her and the French language and a tribute to New York, where I’m constantly finding inspiration, I named my brand, bisouNYC. bisouNYC is the identity for my brand and passion.
P.S. I finally visited France for the first time this year. Stay tuned for an inspired bisouNYC exclusive collection designed by yours truly, Puja Sagir!