‘Aparajito' (The Unvanquished) was how Sabyasachi titled his couture line at the opening show of the Pearls Infrastructure Delhi Couture Week (yes, long name), at The Grand. As the designer explained in the post-show interview, “There's nothing more unvanquished than simplicity, indigenous textiles, indigenous embroidery and the grandeur that can be made by the hand.”
The clothes were grand, yes. Models, wearing topis and stripped bare of makeup, with only kohl and a tiny bindi on the forehead, brought in the staple anarkalis, angarakhas, lehengas, shararas, waistcoats and churidars. There were some clever touches, like a transparent skirt on a printed churidar or bellowing lehengas that go slightly short in the front — as if tucked in for walking comfort.
Khadi was the dominant fabric, with silk and velvet playing supporting cast. (About 80 per cent of the fabric used was khadi, the designer later explained.) The men, along with the kurtas and churidars, also got to sport quilted silk waistcoats. Block-prints, Andhra's kalamkari and Rajasthan's Bhagru prints featured in various combinations. Overall, a fine, elegant line. Only, sometimes, after one has gotten used to Sabyasachi's earthy yet fun/laidback aesthetic, one wishes more surprises pop up.
Explaining that vintage quality that enveloped the show, the designer said, “It was more a textile show than a fashion show — something you could get straight out of a Victoria & Albert Museum.”
One noticeable quirk came in the form of tough brown leather platform shoes that models donned — all the more conspicuous because of the heightened contrast with the clothes whose hemlines they touched. “They were men's shoes that had heels. The message of the shoes was strong, fuss-free, feminine with a touch of masculinity,” Sabyasachi said.
In an acknowledgement of team effort, when the show ended, the designer got his entire design team to acknowledge the applause. Friends Rani Mukerji and Vidya Balan clapped from the front row.
Moving to other things, plans for a furniture line have been in the offing for a while. “I'm working with Samira Habitats on doing some villas in Alibag,” he informs.
The sari is now one of Sabyasachi's pet projects. Through his ‘Save a Saree' initiative, he has been working with handloom weavers in Murshidabad, curating a capsule collection of hand-dyed saris and spreading the word about the artisans and their craft. “The sari has a lot of length and width. It all depends on what you can do to a sari. According to me, the sari is the most potent form of couture in India,” he said. That it is.