“When it comes to inspiration, there are no full stops,” says Rocky S who was in the city for the grand finale of the Chennai International Fashion Week. T. Krithika Reddy talks to the designer who has created the look for 350 films in a career spanning two decades

It’s his fourth sleepless night in a row. After rocking the ramp and the red carpet at the IFFA Awards 2013 in Macau, he whizzed past Mumbai giving a dozen instructions to his design team before landing in Chennai. But there’s no hint of weariness. Rocky S makes a high-octane career seem oh-so effortless.

The yellow glow of the flashbulbs and the noisy chatter of the party people at Hyatt Regency make midnight seem like mid-morning. In the midst of the post-show cacophony, Rocky is game for an interview. In a brief conversation that veers from perfunctory responses to profound statements, the designer capsules the inner rhythms of his life and work. 

Couture, fusion, prêt, resort, accessories, fragrance, kids’ clothes and styling for films… Rocky’s creative energies flow in different directions. A seasoned player in the world of fashion, he responds calmly. “I need to do a lot more. Honestly, after reaching every milestone, I tell myself it’s just a beginning. Fashion is an exciting playfield. I want to explore new realms. There are many diversification plans on my mind. But I want to do justice to whatever I do. Rigorous research and conceptualising are involved before taking a big step forward.”

As he speaks about rigorous work, images of models in fluid black silhouettes with painstakingly embroidered bodices and reed-thin killer heels at the finale of the Chennai International Fashion Week flash across my mind. “Black is my signature colour. When I think black I think English romantic poets of yore. It’s a tone that inspires creativity. It occupies a prime place in the fashion palette since the last century. It’s about drama, it’s about mystery. It’s a designer’s delight.”

But for such a black-driven aesthetic, austerity is surprisingly not a characteristic you’d expect from Rocky. He likes to throw in decorative flourishes with a smattering of stones, sequins and embroidery in a collection that’s an ode to the opaque tone.

When the scene shifts to Bollywood though, the colours he uses are those that scream from the other side of the street. Having styled for over two dozen top names in the industry in 350 films, Rocky says, “Bollywood is about happy vibes, so cheery shades work well. When it comes to inspiration, there are no full stops. I’m very passionate about my work, so everything around me seems beautiful and spurs me on… Probably, God’s gift?”

Unlike most designers who get a toehold in the industry and later graduate to films, Rocky made his foray into the fashion world after he dabbled in films. From period drama and romcoms to arthouse and superman films, his works traverse all genres. “Bollywood is the heart of fashion now. Youngsters look upon celebrities when it comes to sartorial sensibilities. It’s not just about glamour. With films getting more and more real, the common man is able to connect with the stars almost instantaneously. Which is why, costume designing and styling for films has become a huge challenge. You have to define looks and refine traditional concepts in a distinct way to give every film an edge. Styling has propped up my career.”

About his latest passion, resort wear, Rocky says, “I’ve been working on a new line. It will be launched soon on a big platform. Resort has a niche. People are becoming conscious about fashion categories meant for different places/occasions/seasons. I see a huge potential in resort.”

Though caught in a fashion frenzy 24x7, Rocky believes that his mantra for success is simple — “When you believe in what you do, it keeps the passion alive.”

A commerce graduate with no family background in films or fashion, Rocky’s folks were shocked at his career choice. “It was difficult to convince them since they were aware of the hardships involved. But they relented after understanding how deep-rooted my interest was. There’s been no looking back since,” says the designer, whose success story has all the trappings of a feel-good film.