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Afghan reflections



Sabyasachi Mukherjee

Well-thumbed volumes of Khalid Hosseini’s “The Kite Runner” would find a place among the collection of avid readers. The poignant tale of an Afghan lad has also inspired fashion. At the New York Fashion Week later this year, Sabyasa chi Mukherjee’s Spring/Summer collection will have references to Hosseini’s work. “My collection is going to be political and perhaps controversial though it isn’t intended to be that way. There’s a lot of iconography, inspired from Afghanistan and Kazhakistan,” explains Sabyasachi, in Hyderabad to interact with clients at Elahe.

He stunned the international audience last year with a western collection. This time he wants to stay loyal to Indian sensibilities. “It doesn’t mean I’ll showcase saris and salwars. Individual pieces can be intere stingly teamed up, like a patiala with a ganji.” Ask him if an Indian line would cut ice with the global crowd and he says, “Global buyers don’t come to India to buy kimonos and tailored jackets. Th ey come here for clothes with Indian sensibilities.”

Indian clothes, particularly those that represent royal families, have always inspired Sabyasachi. The collection he’s brought to Hyderabad is influenced by Bengali Zamindar families (“It’s tough to let go of the Bengali in me”) and the Rajwadas of Jaipur. “Reigning royalty inspires me. There’s an aspiration factor in Indian marriages. The poor aspire to be rich and the rich want a touch of blue blood because that’s something money can’t buy. I like taking references from royal families, including the Nizamiath of Hyderabad. The upper crust likes my clothes because I draw from royal sensibilities,” he reasons.

This understanding of customer psyche has helped him, he says. “A designer is as good as his last collection. Clothes can be fantastic but they need to sell.” One of the constant in his collections is the kalidar kurta. He explains, “This comes from my love for Awadh. I’ve forever fantasised about Rekha in Umrao Jaan. The Lucknowi kurtas, the culture and their adaabs appeal to me. The kal idar kurtas are demure and yet sophisticated. I don’t like overtly sexy clothes. Women should cover up to leave enough to imagination.”

He doesn’t believe in seasonal trends either because “Indian women’s hips and busts don’t change with trends. Fashion is for people with no intelligence. You can’t blindly adapt fashion trends. My mother is too intelligent to buy my clothes. She says I’m a con artist and she wouldn’t pay for such expensive clothes,” he laughs. Sabyasachi believes in personalised fashion. “Wear what looks good on you. For truly intelligent people, their persona adds charm. If someone thinks what you are wearing is dated, to hell with them.”

Years after he was called the fashion whiz kid, Sabyasachi gave films a shot. His clothes for Black were much appreciated and today he’s Rani Mukherjee’s trusted designer.

Having just finished Rani’s next film Laaga Chunari Mein Daag directed by Pradeep Sarkar, he says, “Rani is a good friend. Being Bengalis, there’s that fellow felling.”

He adds that directors give him creative liberty and “I don’t do movies for bread and butter. So I call the shots.” He also has a script ready and plans to direct a film.

“Big stars and budget don’t guarantee success. What you will see from me is a good film.”

SANGEETHA DEVI DUNDOO

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