While taking a stroll down the curated love garden at his new store and losing yourself to the strains of Shehnai and Hindustani classical music from Benaras Gharana, you step into the world of Sabyasachi Mukherjee. The ace designer was recently in the national Capital when Millennium Post caught up with him at his newly opened flagship store.
What’s your take on the fashion scenario in the Indian Society?
We Indians are gradually crawling back into our own sensibilities. Every nationality has a regional standard for beauty whether they are Japanese, Chinese or African. But we Indians, almost always scrounge standards from the west. Most Indian men admire the feminine and curvaceous side of women. However, the way women perceive beauty in society is very different. I wonder sometimes who women actually dress-up for apart from themselves as I feel that women dress-up in their quest for supremacy. With each passing era, Indian Fashion has been witnessing a rapid growth. In fact, the shift in fashion and trends every six months is quite evident. The economic perspective in the global scenario is yet another influence that has altered Indian fashion. International brands entering the Indian market and being sold at economic prices is promoting the growth of brand awareness in India in a big way.
As we live in curated times, what role does personal style and individualism stand on?
You know, I’ve always felt that beauty and comfort can co-exist together and style is about a woman who is 5’1 and wears flats to a fancy party. There’s a lot of dignity and grace in accepting who you are. Gradually I feel the importance of big brands will go away, giving a chance to the smaller brands which are going to help people create their own style. My lifetime muse is Frida Kahlo. She was phenomenally dynamic because she embraced who she was. She walked with a limp, unapologetic about her beauty, her illness, her uni-brow, everything. When I see a woman too obsessed with fashion I know she is a girl in trouble. A Sabyasachi woman believes in consistency and repetition. Look at Rekha, she wears stunning Kanchwipurams all the time, so much so that when you think of Kanchipurams, you only think of Rekha. I think that is iconism. Whether it’s Chanel-black and white or the personal styles of Audrey Hepburn, Frida Kahlo and Jackie Kennedy, all of them lived through consistency and repetition. Trendy is young, it’s boring, frivolous and fragile. Trendy is high-maintenance. You would want someone trendy as a onetime lover, not a lifetime partner.
What’s the biggest fashion faux pas according to you?
The biggest fashion blooper is not being able to dress your age. The Indian change in attire has also managed to target the clothing for ‘plus size’ where the demand is remarkable. The market for plus size is gaining importance and the demand is growing day by day. This could be possibly the off-shoot from changes in diet, a plausible excuse in the form of the opening of more and more burger bars, pizza houses and other joints from the West.
The variety in the wardrobe rises swiftly from this increasing urbanisation. The country today is witnessing a rapid growth in many sectors thus bringing in the need to dress well and appear presentable and being real. Everything is perfect and digitised. We shy away from imperfection and we hardly get any time to reflect. My clothing wants you to do that – know the traditional India from the bygone era, know about the textile, where it came from, how was it manufactured…. Until and unless the product does not make you inquisitive enough about yourself, I think it is a failed product.
How much importance do you pay to technology advancements in fabrics, prints and craftsmanship?
You can’t really move forward without technology. But having said that how much of it you use is also a very pertinent question. Today you can’t really move forward without respecting what the past gave you. It has to be an amalgamation of your past and present. In today’s market there is a big overdose of technology in everything – from the food we eat, to the products we use, to the music we hear. Somewhere down the line, what people are missing is a little rustiness of the things from the non-technical world. My design philosophy stands for personalised imperfection of the human hand. When I look at a woman who is just too beautiful, she almost is mechanised to me. So I like some flaws and freckles here and there to add to the beauty of the woman. Similarly, I like textiles and embroidery to have a little bit of character and age in them. I think men and women really start looking beautiful after 40. When you look into their eyes, you see the world through them.
Tell us about your source of inspiration?
I am a very sensory person. My source of inspiration has always been people, travelling, books and even the food that I eat. Whatever appeals to my senses, inspires me; and it can also be a perfume! The brand Sabyasachi’s design aesthetic has always been of romantic opulence, the kind that lacks sympathy for ‘modernity’ of the rib-crunching kind, of minds and bodies that obsess with faddish trends. In fact, my traditional decorative styles with swathes of handcrafted textiles, antique embroideries and rich tapestry of colours, is almost entirely for the bridal market. I am always focusing on asymmetry, unevenness and the gray scale of achromatic colours. I promote neither outrageous style nor provocative dressing.