Designing for the real people

I have evolved as a person because of Kolkatta ...

He's everything that's not "fashionable''. You won't see him on Page Three dressed in flashy clothes blowing kisses. And yes, he still shops in the by-lanes of Delhi's crowded Sarojini Nagar. Yet he's riding the high tide in the fashion industry. For this Kolkata-based designer, who took the fashion world by storm during the Lakme India Fashion Week two years ago, designing meant breaking the mould of "Bombay blondes with bleached hair, blue contact lenses and plastic and silicon''. And by making his `Frog Princess' beautiful, designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee has managed to create his own fashion space. "Indian fashion was a lot about `wannabe' fashion. The most important thing is that people should become their own person. That's where I brought in the `Frog Princess'. Not something that is considered beautiful by society standards but a realistic platform of fashion. I did not design the `Frog Princess' for divas but for real people with real insecurities,'' says this designer who will soon be supplying to Browns in London.

A long way from the "lost Bengali boy'' at LIFW-2002, Sabyasachi admits that the journey has made him more mature. "It is important that you don't just design to please people. I learnt that after LIFW-2003! But it is equally important that you keep people in mind when you are designing. My mother is a painter. I have never known her to change anything in her paintings because a customer wanted it. She always says that she wouldn't prostitute her creativity. I realised that to survive, I cannot be rigid. But I am not willing to just please the galleries,'' says Sabyasachi now in Delhi for a show.

While this designer can find even a simple cushion on a couch inspiring, it is Kolkata that has kept him alive, feels Sabyasachi. "It is a slow-paced town with no Page Three and parties where you have to wear flashy clothes. I am at home there. It's a little tucked away corner that gives you plenty of space to introspect. I have evolved as a person because of Kolkata,'' says Sabyasachi.

And it is because of his home town, admits this designer modestly, that success has not gone to his head. And that's the reason designing for films is ruled out for right now. After a slight detour to Bollywood with "Black'', Sabyasachi is not looking westward anymore. "I realised that I would have to settle in Mumbai if I was going to be involved in films. But that would mean shifting from Kolkata, and that's a decision I am not ready for right now,'' says the Kolkata boy.

For the moment, Sabyasachi has his eyes trained towards the Milan Spring-Summer 2005 Fashion Week. And it would be the `Frog Princess' that would be travelling with him to Milan as well.

Photo: V. Sudershan