Interview Fashion

Fashion designer Nachiket Barve talks about design co-existing with functionality

Fashion designer Nachiket Barve

Fashion designer Nachiket Barve   | Photo Credit: R Ravindran

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The fashion designer talks about design co-existing with functionality, and working on the period Bollywood drama ‘Tanhaji’

Design and functionality go hand in hand for Nachiket Barve. His recent collections ‘Millennial Maharanis’ and ‘Passport Princesses’ have all had the element of functionality in occasion wear. “It goes back to my days at NID (National Institute of Design) where we thought of functionality in design,” he says, during a brief interview while in Hyderabad to unveil his fall-festive Passport Princesses collection at Elahe, Banjara Hills, last week.

He pays an ode to style icons of the 1970s like actor-model Talitha Getty through his boho-chic ensembles, but he ensures that his garments are suitable for contemporary women of different age groups and body types. “Inclusivity is always part of my design ethos. My job is to pre-empt what women would want to wear,” he says.

Nachiket says it’s imperative for fashion to change with the times. If young women today are attending parties with a mobile phone, wallet and keys, the clothes need to be tweaked accordingly — like lehengas or kurtas with pockets. “I also think of how easy will it be to dry clean an outfit, and if it can be dressed up or down and worn to many occasions… I am an advocate of slow and timeless fashion. I still get orders for ensembles from my first collection and it’s a win that those clothes remain relevant,” he says.

A few outfits are embellished with hand-punched ‘woollen felt’ work. The technique was used in his 2016/17 International Woolmark Prize collection: “You need to add something extra. Frankly, no one needs more clothes. We buy only when we fall in love with something we see.”

Nachiket puts together collections that have something for both mother and daughter. Tunics and saris target older women and chic jumpsuits, one shoulder dresses, palazzos and ponchos cater to younger women.

He points out that social media has become a barometer to gauge the worth of runway collections. Designers think of how their outfits will look on Instagram. But then, Nachiket also designs capsule collections from time to time for retail: “These are more understated and wearable, with use of one technique or the other — like appliqué, resham embroidery, resist dyeing, ari work, pearl and bead work, or Rabari mirror work.”

Biopic of a Maratha warrior

Saif Ali Khan in a poster of the film

Saif Ali Khan in a poster of the film  

Away from the fashion week and retail collections, he also designed costumes for two period Marathi films and is now looking forward to the release of the Bollywood period drama Tanhaji starring Ajay and Kajol Devgn, and Saif Ali Khan.

The 17th century story is a biopic of Maratha warrior Tanaji Malusare. Nachiket and his team turned to museums and books for reference. “I wanted to treat a historical subject with contemporary eyes and not make the actors look like they are in a costume drama. We also researched online and dug into archival textile collections of people. I visited the Victoria and Albert Museum in London to look at the armoury. We got kaarigars to do some old-world Kolhapuri embroidery on footwear,” he explains.

The team developed textile textures and steered clear of embroidery since the 17th century Maratha apparels were bereft of them. Nachiket says, “Designing for films is an interesting extension of my work. We created garments in which the actors could easily move about, dance or fight. The clothes also needed a worn-in feeling and we used techniques like tea boiling to age the textiles.”

He has designed for seven principal characters of Tanhaji and sums up, “When you show something on the ramp, people view it from a distance. In cinema, everything is on the big screen and documented for posterity. It’s a responsibility to do your job well.”

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2019 3:50:45 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/fashion/nachiket-barve-brings-back-17th-century-aesthetics-for-ajay-devgn-kajol-and-saif-ali-khan-starrer-tanhaji/article30037354.ece

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