Fashion is brave. A vehicle for self-expression, it takes risks, sets trends, manifests culture and reflects an attitude. Purvi Padia, renowned residential interior designer and founder of UNICEF’s Project Lion, fearlessly redefines fashion, taking it out of the dressing room and across the continent.
With an aim to improve the lives of India’s 1.5 million orphaned children, Padia launched the Project Lion initiative in 2018 to change the trajectory of India’s most vulnerable children. “It sounds cliche, but when I saw the movie Lion at a UNICEF private screening, a lightbulb went off in my head,” she shares. Soon after, the first-generation Indian American powerhouse partnered with London Jewelers to launch the Lioness collection of women’s charms, necklaces, rings and bracelets solidifying the relationship between fashion and philanthropy in solid 14K gold. “A lioness is a symbol of ferocity, bravery and grace—similar to women around the world,” says Padia. “By wearing this piece, you are not only claiming your power as a woman, but also empowering India’s children who don’t have mothers and families to dream of a bigger, brighter future.”
Clearly this fiercely passionate female has changed lives abroad, exceeding goals by providing 1,697 childcare institutions with housing for more than 169,400 orphans; creating skills and development programs; reuniting displaced families; and empowering 5,483 child-protection functionaries and government officials. This summer, Padia will continue her pursuit “to fulfill our human obligation to show empathy and love to fellow humans” by expanding the Lioness collection to more accessible price points. All net proceeds directly support India’s children devoid of basic human rights.
Born in the Bronx to two Indian physicians who emigrated to the United States to reach their full potential, the entrepreneur, humanitarian and mother of two currently splits her time between her Aman-esque oasis in Bridgehampton, her modern West Village apartment and her beach house in the Bahamas. When asked about her hopes for America’s future, her focus remains on its children. “If I only had one wish or one thing that I could change, it would be to ensure that every child on this planet is given a proper education,” Padia says. “I don’t just mean in math and the sciences, but I mean a true education that encompasses equity, social justice and international affairs.”
Back-to-school (or Zoom) fashion is upon us. Perhaps it’s time to join the pride and invest in a family heirloom—a piece of jewelry that represents a commitment to an empathetic state of mind. Diamonds are forever, as is a fiercely stylish attitude of altruism, compassion and gratitude for privilege that knows no borders. In the words of this dedicated Indian American activist and Hamptonite, “Nothing you truly love or that makes you feel good is ever out of style.