THE KUMBH AS INSPIRATION The Kumbh sends you into a reverie. The sea of sadhus wrapped in yards of saffron-hued fabric set me thinking. The way they drape the fabric is fascinating. It’s a marvel in construction, though done in the most unrestrained manner. I was interested in this carefully careless style of the sadhus and wanted to translate it into modern, wearable silhouettes.
COLOUR PLAY The palette of Kumbhback is reminiscent of the multitudes of sadhus converging at Allahabad. From saffron, sunset tones and subtle rust, the colour story moves to deep red and amber interspersed with hints of blue, aubergine and pink set against a backdrop of black.
BRIDAL SCENE Yes, my name is synonymous with bridal. But we do plenty of ready-to-wear. Bridal has become the most lucrative segment of the Indian fashion industry. It accounts for 50 to 70 per cent of a designer’s revenue. We buy couture for our weddings which are a lavish affair. Bridal has evolved over the years. From volumes of fabric and elaborate embellishment, designers are moving towards lightness. This is being achieved with smart cuts and fine thread work.
CELEBRITIES AND MY WORK I’ve had a deep intellectual engagement with a few celebrities. Isabella Blow and Mehr Jesia are friends and have had a strong influence on the way I design. Minal Mody has exquisite taste and has also been a source of inspiration. Shilpa Shetty’s joie de vivre has fascinated me. By tearing up a sari, Lady Gaga showed me how to think out of the box.
THE RUBAIYAT AND AFTER Yes, after The Rubaiyat, I haven’t done travelling shows of that magnitude. Those were the good old days before the fashion shows and weeks. Now, we do a lot of trunk shows in Chennai and Kolkata. But Mumbai and New Delhi remain the fashion capitals. Most of the trends that we see emanated from these cities.
DOMESTIC MARKET It’s true, in the backdrop of a fickle economy worldwide, it is better to focus on the domestic market. It took me some time to figure it out. I showed in Milan and in some other places abroad. But it is better to design for a world you are familiar with.
OVER TWO DECADES It is 22 years since I launched my eponymous label. In contrast to the time I started out, there is much more diversity in the fashion scene today. Besides, the industry is stratified.
FASHION BLOGGERS They are increasingly becoming a big deal because of all the fuss that’s being made of them especially abroad.
THE SIGNIFICANT THREE When I think of a collection, the three things that matter to me are inspiration, drape and wearability.
UPHOLDING TRADITION Designers should uphold what they believe in. When a line evolves from something deep-rooted it is always fulfilling. But designers juggle much more than tradition — technique, trends and seasons. To me, upholding tradition would mean challenging convention within my template.