Dresses for Das
Meet Sunil V. George, the man behind the hip look that Vasundhara Das wears in her latest Malayalam flick, `Vajram'.
DID YOU notice the posters of the Malayalam film, `Vajram', which will hit the theatres soon? Then, you may have also seen singer-actress Vasundhara Das, in colourful costumes, staring out at you from the posters. We are not talking about the actress here, but a member of the team who made her wardrobe in `Vajram' hip.
Meet Sunil V. George, an up-and-coming fashion designer. A postgraduate in Bio-Chemistry from Kasturba Medical College (KMC), Mangalore, Sunil did a one-year diploma course from the International Academy of Fashion (IAF), Kochi. "The course helped structure my creativity," says Sunil.
After the course, he honed his skills during a one-month stint at Leela Lace (Kochi), an export house. "I was also designing for schools and colleges for their fashion shows and inter-school and collegiate competitions."
But he owes much of his experience to his stint at the Tirupur-based `Cotton Blossoms', another export house. "The money was not all that good, but the experience was. We were made to shoulder responsibility and had access to overseas clients. The firm was into designing ladies knitwear for a Mexican retailing house. The work was highly professional and we worked a season ahead on the designs. We were asked to do flat sketches with the detailing, illustrations based upon the mood boards (a collage of pictures depicting the mood for the garment) and swatches of fabrics sent by `C AND A', a European knitwear label. After the patterns were chosen, we had to draw croquis to show how the fabric looks on the wearer."
Sunil and four of his friends got together and brought out T-shirts under the label `Pi-thon' at Tirupur itself. "We made around 60 pieces and sold it through outlets across the State. We had designed the T-shirts to find out if there were any takers. We found many."
After coming back to Kochi, Sunil, with his friend, Ashish Jolly, designed the uniform for the restaurant staff at all the three branches of Bharat Tourist Home there.
His foray into designing couture for films was purely by chance. "Kavya Madhavan's brother, Mithun (he was Sunil's class mate at IAF), introduced me to Pappan and Pramod, directors of `Vajram'. Vasundhara plays an actress in the film. I was told her ensembles had to be glamorous. My friend, Vipin, and I had to work on a shoestring budget."
Ask Vasundhara what she feels about the ensembles designed for `Vajram' and she says: "I'm impressed by their professionalism. When I was approached to do the film, I refused to work without a designer, especially since the role demanded that I wear glamorous outfits. The directors asked me to meet Sunil; we discussed the role and what kind of dress each sequence demanded. I went on a tour of Paris and Sunil sent the croquis and sketches by e-mail. Later, in Bangalore, we had a detailed discussion about the outfits."
After the shooting of the film, Vasundhara was asked to sing the Hindi song, Sayonara... sayonara, for a show held as part of Lata Mangeshkar's birthday celebrations in Mumbai. "My designer for two years, Neetu Jain, was in the U.S.," says Vasundhara.
She asked Sunil to fill in. "The theme of the dance was Japanese, the song being from `Love in Tokyo'. My dress had to be in tune with the theme."
Sunil came up with a design that achieved an oriental look through the cut and detailing. "I liked the dress. Sunil did a good job," says Vasundhara.
Says Sunil, "Some of my friends helped me, as the work had to be wrapped up quickly".
Ask Sunil about his views on fashion and what his choice of fabrics is, and pat comes the reply: "The fabric with its embellishments should unite to create a subtle beauty. Sheers (in fashion parlance, it means "soft fabrics such as chiffons and georgettes") have been in fashion for long. One can never go wrong while styling them. The joy of working on cotton is that there's no limit to innovation. It's such a versatile fabric. I like working on silk too."
"Regarding the accessories and garments, I like to follow a simple rule - strong garments, minimal accessories and vice versa."
Fusion jewellery, Sunil says, works well for dramatic dressing. Eternal blacks set off either by embellishments in burnished gold or antique silver are a heady combination."
"Two factors," he points out, "that I always pay attention to is comfort in clothing, whereby the fabric has to be taken into account and also the detailing on the garments. Secondly, the garment must have a certain sensuality about it. I prefer the embellishments to be done in embroidery done by hand; it has a lot of fluidity in designs. Machine embroidery looks more stiff."
"I prefer a mix of zardosi, beads and sequins with a liberal dash of embroidery done by hand such as aari and cutwork. Lucknowi chikan work and French knots can be used to give the embroidery an ethnic appeal." adds Sunil.
What gets him going is his attitude and willingness to explore uncharted territories in style and fashion. Come mid-2004, and Sunil will join the London College of Fashion Designing for a one-year diploma in art and design with specialisation in fashion and manufacturing.
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