The first thing that strikes you is this guy is wearing a black shirt with his denims and is trying to persuade women to flaunt a flowery fuchsia or be dissolved in a citrus green. “A balance is good in life, isn't it? I mean, imagine if I were wearing a purple shirt with pink buttons myself!” muses designer Nachiket Barve, all of 31 and looking like he's achieved a Buddha-like middle path in the world of design.
This overall sense of practicality pervades this Mumbai man's clothes that are very often enthusiastically branded “wearable”. A rather offensive term in the fashion industry, which might work against you? Nachiket is far short of being embarrassed or offended by the term. “The more evolved you are as a voyeur in fashion, you realise it's tougher to create something that's off the wall, yet wearable. Of course you start off with the dresses made of bamboo and bulbs, but after a point you have to get practical. You can't create fashion in isolation.” In fact he's willing to change his design just to make his client comfortable — “I'll be happy to add on sleeves if someone wants that, or make it more conservative if that's what they desire!”
Nachiket can't stop talking about how you need to enjoy the “wear-ability and fantasy of your clothes”.
“Otherwise it's like you're taken to a wonderful buffet spread but all the food is made of wax — perfectly pretty and utterly useless”.
His own colour palette is more of blacks, charcoals, browns and whites “It's calmer and understated…I work in silence,” says Nachiket. But obviously, his work is doing all the talking. His clientele include the swish set of Bollywood — the Bachchans, Sonali Bendre, Kalki Koechlin, and more. So is it more difficult designing for celebrities than for “normal” people? “At the end of the day, they all want to look like a better version of themselves. It's just that with being celebrities, they are subject to so much more scrutiny. It's a challenge.” The guy who creates ramp scorchers also admits he's grown up with non-fashion inspiration — National Geographic. “Cumulous clouds, dandelions, barnacles, jellyfish, pollen, flowers…those are the things that inspire me. It doesn't mean I'll stick barnacles on my dresses. But the design shows up in my appliqué work. The ripples on a surface of water are seen in the Shibori-like resist dyeing and surface texturing I do…” Growing up, he had an inclination toward art, painting and photography. “I still do wildlife photography…these formative influences stay, and define what you find beautiful.” The rather confident-sounding Nachiket denies having much confidence, but reasons that it must stem from some honesty. “If you have nothing to blag about, there's no fear. What I offer to my clients is a dialogue. I can't get away with a one-sided explanation that I was inspired by a red wall…”