Masaba’s house of quirk

The Masaba store on Chennai’s Khader Nawaz Khan Road   | Photo Credit: K Pichumani

Clean lines, large sunny windows, weathered mirrors and brass accent pieces like istri-wallah iron boxes and fans. Masaba Gupta’s latest flagship store in Chennai embodies her brand aesthetic, while putting the focus squarely on the clothes. With an official launch today, at the store in Khader Nawaz Khan Road, Gupta is most excited about the bridal room. “We have a collection of lehengas that range from ₹40,000 to ₹2 lakh, so in terms of range, it is quite varied,” she says. Apart from a three-section mirror where brides can step out for some Say Yes to the Dress type moments, the trial room features vanity mirror lighting and a spare pair of heels, in case you left yours at home. Her famouse cow motif makes its presence felt only on the doors. “Since the clothes themselves have so much colour and pattern, I did not want it to be visually crowded,” she explains.

Collabs galore

Masaba Gupta

Masaba Gupta   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

This is not the only project the designer has been busy with. The most anticipated one, of course, is her work with the Game of Thrones TV franchise, as the final season releases in April. “I can’t really talk too much about it, but I can tell you that we are doing a line of home decor, apparel and jewellery. Apart from that, we are working on a fashion jewellery collaboration, our second line of Titan Raga watches, and I think we will launch swimwear as well. Currently the focus is on womenswear and accessories,” she lists.

As Gupta’s empire has expanded, her work too has evolved. “Earlier, my approach was purely based on the fact that I needed to fulfil my creative needs. We never saw this label becoming such a retail-friendly model. So when it did, there was a shift that happened within me. I started looking at price points, the kind of fabrics, affordability, the range of products we could offer... It became a mix of commercial and artistic, and not just one or the other.” This extends to the way she looks at collaborations. “If it is not a commercial success, it doesn’t make any sense, considering the amount of time you spend on it. Fulfilment comes from both commercial and creative success,” she reiterates. As for her design decisions, with the bridal collections finding many takers, she says she has moved away from animal prints, and turned to inspiration from folklore, mythology and architecture.

It has been a while since her eponymous brand did a full-fledged runway show, says Gupta (not counting the Shaadi by Marriot show in Kolkata last November). “It’s a lot of work: we’re talking three months of hard labour for something that gets over in 10 minutes. Besides, I’m not sure people enjoy the process of going out any more, travel three hours in traffic, for something like that,” she laughs. All of their collection launches in the past year have been on Instagram, and have been a much better indicator of what the clients like. What made the impact was not just moving away from the runway, but finding other means to do the same thing. “At the end of a live show, everyone claps politely and leaves. On social media, you get instant, honest feedback,” says the early adaptor of the online space, who hosted India’s first Instagram fashion show back in 2016.

Embracing the online

From Masaba’s wedding collection campaign on Instagram

From Masaba’s wedding collection campaign on Instagram   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

On the inevitable trolling celebrities face on the net, she says that you either let it pass or give it back. “I really think about who I respond to, and I don’t like to make it too bitter, because eventually, I bear the brunt of it. I enjoy social media and I want to be there for what it’s worth, not for the fact that it makes me unhappy or upset. I want it to keep me happy,” she says candidly.

So when someone like @dietsabya tags her on a post — there was one that compared her oversized green suit at the Vogue India Awards last year to the one Lady Gaga wore to Elle’s Women in Hollywood event — she does not take it lying down. “If I straighten my hair and put in extensions, people could say I am trying to ape Kim Kardashian. But the fact is that some looks do not belong to any one person; there is a deep history to it,” she says.

The anonymous handle which has built up a massive following by calling out designer copycats started out with a good intention, “but has lost its focus” she feels. “When the D&G China show was cancelled in large part due to their inspiration, Diet Prada, I thought that was impactful. In a country like India, where we have no concept of implementing copyright laws, one Instagram post isn’t going to change anything. Educate yourselves on the laws and what you stand for,” she wraps up.

Masaba in Chennai is located at 19/1, Khader Nawaz Khan Road, Nungambakkam. Open from 11 am to 8 pm. Prices range from ₹3,000 to ₹2 lakh. 9003226800

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Printable version | Jun 19, 2021 12:30:15 AM |

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