In black and white

DESIGNING THE TRADITIONAL WEAVE Sabyasachi Mukherjee Photo: Sangeeta Devi Dundoo   | Photo Credit: by arrangement

Sabyasachi Mukherjee's eyes tell a tale of lack of sleep and of pain that he tries to conceal. He is recovering from a near slip disc. All signs of fatigue disappear when he talks about his Spring/Summer 2012 collection, on display at Elahe, Banjara Hills. When he talks, rest assured the conversation will not veer towards ‘what's in this season?' trend spotting. Instead, he regales us about forgotten techniques of embroidery and antique zardosi on hand-woven fabrics.

This summer, Sabyasachi targets women in different age groups. Regal hand-woven Benarasis share space with lighter saris with bullion embroidery.

“There is a little capsule of everything, from heavy bridal lehangas to fashion pieces for young, club-going women. For the first time, there's the children's line, Chota Sabya,” he says with pride. The designer is irked by the clothes children are seen wearing on television reality shows.

“The dignity has gone out of children's clothing. I feel that by using Indian textiles and techniques, we will be able to make children sensitive towards our art and craft.” he says, showing us a skirt that uses ikat from Pochampally.

At a time when Indian textiles are celebrated on international ramps, it's a shame we are embracing polyesters, he says.

“The patronising attitude people have towards buying Indian clothing is a sad commentary of the times we live in. My new line ‘Sabyasachi by Sabyasachi' and the fashion pieces (which includes hand-woven tops and dhoti pants) are a slap on the faces of women who shy away from Indian textiles,” he says. In fact, each garment in the line ‘Sabyasachi by Sabyasachi' carries a sachet with a scroll informing the buyer of the kind of textile and technique used.

As he revels in Mangalagiris, Ikats, cottons, khadis and silks, he doesn't completely avoid using net fabric. “There is a range in nets too. For instance, in France, you have a hand-woven net. We are talking about sensibilities. It is the mindless need for glamour without depth that bothers me,” he says. In his Spring/Summer 2012 collection, black and whites occupy prime space.

“This is the palette cleansing year for me after an overdose of colour last year,” he says. There is room for some colour though. A hand block printed black and white ensemble is contrasted by a fuchsia dupatta. Another off-white sari stands contrasted by a printed petticoat.

Near-extinct techniques

He is proud of the bullion embroidery, done with a single needle and thread, on saris, lehengas and coats. “I keep telling second generation weavers and craftsmen, who want to shift to blue-collared jobs, that they can build a lucrative business if they preserve their ancestors' textile and craft techniques,” says Sabyasachi.

He has no qualms with his designs being copied in the mass market. “My designs get copied because they work across the country and if the copy market helps revive our crafts, I have no problem,” he declares. He is glad that after Vidya Balan emerging as a stellar example of showcasing hand-woven saris, Dia Mirza and Maria Goretti among others are taking to hand-woven saris.

Sabyasachi has a lot up his sleeve this summer. In May, he will unveil his collection of traditional saris, stoles and accessories in Sotheby's, London. Soon, he will also be mentoring young Bengal painters and help them showcase and sell their paintings through Sabyasachi Art Foundation. “My mother is a painter and that's where the idea stemmed from,” he informs.

Draw his attention to his plans of making a movie and he shrugs, “It will take another three years for me to find time to do it. I am not ambitious. I am enjoying what comes my way, be it the invitation from Sotheby's or Oprah Winfrey visiting my store unexpectedly,” he smiles.

Somewhere in between all this, he hopes to take time off for a vacation in Spain.

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Printable version | Jun 22, 2021 6:47:47 AM |

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