Loud patterns, bold statements

Ajay Kumar  

At first look, Ajay Kumar’s clothes scream “look at me”. Face to face with the quirkily-dressed man, and you know his collection is all him. He’s wearing floral-printed cream pants, a white sharply cut bib shirt, sports a very Italian brown-brogues-without-socks look, a waxed twirly moustache, and a Mohawk hairdo to boot. He shows me a flaming red jacket he usually wears.

“I like flamboyant,” he declares with a hearty laugh and a twinkle in his eyes. A NIFT graduate who’s worked with Blackberry’s, Indigo Nation, Reid & Taylor, and Peter England, Ajay has embarked on his own creative journey now — he will be launching his eponymous menswear label “Mr. Ajay Kumar” at the Gen Next designer platform of Lakmé Fashion Week in its Winter/Festive 2015 edition in August. “If someone has achieved something they should show it. I was inspired by the movies, by the corporate life and look…you should not hide behind anything. I like to dress up, look bold. You should be someone to look up to,” he says with finality.

The 36-year-old Bengaluru-based designer is from Uttar Pradesh and makes no bones of his lower middle class upbringing. He grew up in Bokaro Steel City, Jharkhand, where his father was Deputy Post Master; he credits his parents with being his biggest support, specially having come from a small town where a career in fashion is far removed from life. He talks of how he almost applied to be an aeronautical engineer, then got through a hotel management course, before he finally landed in National Institute of Fashion Technology, Delhi. He now lives in Bengaluru with wife Lavanya Venkatraman, co-founder at a fashion startup, and son Siddhanth. He wanted to be in Bengaluru, the corporate hub, and live the life with a beautiful house, car, and clothes. Ajay’s collection ‘Consonance & Dissonance’ is taking shape at his newly set-up studio in HSR Layout. On one side hang his sports collection and after-office wear, “bread-and-butter” shirts he designs with his partner Bhupesh. “Every designer uses market input to create something that sells. Then, there are the things he makes for his passion.” He says he styles for photo-shoots to sustain. “I like to style a whole look. I’ve always done that.”

On the opposite end of his studio, is his “passion” — the collection he’s taking to LFW. “Everything has importance in our lives. The problem is that we try to make everything perfect. But in every person there is something positive and negative. And if I don’t have the negativity, I don’t have personality. Even in a piano, the black and white keys are about consonance and dissonance…So my collection has lots of layering of patterns, colours; they are multitudinous. I’ve not tried to synchronise anything.” Earlier everyone looked toward the West but now there’s a turnaround and everyone looks towards India, even for silhouettes, he says.

Out of the eight ensembles he’s taking to the LFW 2015, six are ready. “The silhouettes are structured yet flowy, Indian yet contemporary. I’ve always created very constructed patterns. A guy should look sleek. You’ll find in this collection drop-crotch pants, cowl necked shirts, angrakha styled shirts, Rajasthani- style Bhagatri en’s kurtas fused with formal white collars, a tuxedo-inspired jacket, a kilt-inspired pant with an overskirt…” Black and white geometric patterns are interrupted with colourful flowers, elephants, birds, and motifs of men in pagdi, twirling their moustaches! “This elaborate surface work is hypnotic and like the kaleidoscope.” Bib shirts and layers, really, though, are his thing. “I can wear anything. I can look like what I want. We can experiment. We all have licence to do it.” That quite sums up the man, and his creations.

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Printable version | Jul 23, 2021 9:00:26 AM |

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