National Style

Aanchal and Sanjana Bubber of Bubber, an Indian couture fashion label, feature ten Indian designers who have changed the style sensibilities of a generation

AS Sabyasachi Mukherjee says, “Indian clothing, like any other national clothing of strong visual identity, has a huge power to tie society and keep it connected,’’

Sabyasachi Mukherjee

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Sabyasachi Mukherjee was born on 23rd February 1974 to a middle-class Bengali family in Kolkata. His mother worked in a government-supported art college and had a keen interest in handicrafts. When Sabyasachi was just 15 years old, his father unfortunately lost his job. Paying for education was going to be difficult. When he expressed his interest in designing clothes, his parents refused to pay for his tuition. They wanted him to be an engineer. Sabyasachi sold all his books and paid for his own education while he pursued a degree at one of India’s most prestigious fashion schools—NIFT.
Sabyasachi describes his style as “personalised imperfection of the human hand.” His style is traditional and very ‘Indian’ and he makes the most of it. It is international styling with an Indian soul. Vintage and old world Indian charm is highlighted through all the motifs and techniques used. Antique fabrics, textiles and embroideries get beautifully woven into each sari, lehenga and salwar kameez, which are his areas of expertise.
Sabyasachi’s designs are the designs of the past, present and the future, and that’s what makes him one of the leading contemporary Indian designers.

Anamika Khanna

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“Indian fashion has to buck up. We cannot compete with Chanel or Armani. The only way we can survive is by offering something from our rich crafts and doing global designs with an Indian twist.’’
Anamika Khanna (born in Jodhpur on July 19th1971) is an acclaimed fashion designer with her own label. She blends traditional Indian textiles and techniques with Western silhouettes and tailoring. She is the first Indian designer to launch an international label: Ana mika. She is also the first female Indian designer to display her collections at the Paris Fashion Week, Singapore and Pakistan.
Anamika has been instrumental in the modernisation of Indian craft through her modern wear made from Indian textiles. She is known for re-inventing the Maharashtrian nine-yard sari to create a dhoti–styled sari. She is also known for introducing the tulip drape, the wavy drape, and the two-pallu-in-dhoti drape.

Rohit Bal

Wills Lifestyle presented exclusive preview of Rohit Bal Grand Finale Collection for Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week Spring-Summer 2015, in New Delhi on September 30, 2014. (Photo: Amlan Paliwal/IANS)

“There is a big difference between being a fashion designer and someone who makes clothes just to sell them.’’
When you think of Rohit Bal, you think of masterpieces, inspired by fantasy and history intertwined to create an artistic splendour. Every piece is a meticulously designed artwork finely honed to perfection.
Rohit studied history at St. Stephen’s College in New Delhi. He joined his family’s export business in 1990 and after learning the basics of the family business he launched his own label.
He has showcased his designs all over the world—Paris, Singapore, Moscow, Sao Paulo, New York and several other couture hotspots. He has also partnered with Christian Louboutin, the shoe designer, collaborated with Crate and Barrel, Nebula-Titan and many other global brands.

Anita Dongre

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‘’You have to dream big. Your dreams should not frighten you—that’s how big your dreams should be! And I’ve always been a dreamer.’’
Anita Dongre is a highly acclaimed designer who has dominated the fashion scenario in India for the last 18 years. Her collections specially cater to the modern 21st century woman.
She learnt her skills at the renowned S.N.D.T. fashion school while pursuing a degree in commerce. After graduating in 1983, she taught at S.N.D.T. for around two years.
Masque was her first ethnic wear brand, which retailed at the best designer stores all over India and abroad.
Anita’s most popular fashion label AND caters to the needs of today’s woman. It epitomises style and substance. Next she launched Anita Dongre Inter Pret a highly successful line that includes trendy mix ‘n’ match western wear accented with sleek detailing. Global Desi a boho-chic brand inspired by India’s colours and prints.
Anita Dongre Timeless is an exclusive label for occasional wear right from bridal trousseaus to red carpet stunners. Grassroots, another brand, features organic clothing manufactured from sustainable fabrics and accentuated with traditional crafts thus giving you stylish and glamorous outfits.
Anita is the only designer whose designs cater to different classes of society. She has made designer wear available to the masses.

Tarun Tahiliani

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‘’We still have a colonised mindset. It is a stupid fallacy that we should design for the west. We are trying too hard to woo the west.’’
The Mumbai-born Tarun Tahiliani is India’s answer to Karl Lagerfeld. He is known in the Indian fashion industry for his couture bridal gowns. Tarun finished his MBA from University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Business School.
The Indian fashion designer has gained recognition over the years for designing Indian -influenced rich and royal apparel intertwined with modern western silhouettes.
In 1987, Tarun’s first multi-designer store, Ensemble, opened in Mumbai. The store was home to his own label, along with exclusively picked designers from around the country. The store was an instant success but Tarun still went back to New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology in 1991 to hone his skills in the fashion design field.
Tarun Tahiliani rose to fame in 1995 when Jemima Khan wore his outfit for her wedding to Pakistani cricketer, Imran Khan.
Ensemble today is around 25 years old, co-owned by Tarun’s sister Tina Tahiliani Parikh who joined the business in 1990. It has stores located in both Mumbai and Delhi. With his work showcased internationally, from Milan to London; Tarun Tahiliani is also one of the founding members of India’s official fashion week’s governing body, the Fashion Design Council of India.

Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla

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“We are artists not businessmen. We just got on with making our art immediately. We followed our inspiration.”
Revival of bygone works of art molded and mixed into contemporary styles is what Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla are all about. The duo has made it big on the fashion circuit by bringing in a resurgence of traditional works of art. They have travelled to the remotest areas, imbibed the art forms and beautifully executed them in their finest collections.
Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla are among the few Indian designers to have made it big globally. The duo was the first to have a collection featured at Harrods.
Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla have created a rage for their designs both nationally and internationally, fashioning authentic and ethnic materials in a contemporary and modern style.
With a large international celebrity clientele, Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla have also ventured into the platform of interior designing, making a mark in this area as well. They have designed homes of celebrities like Amitabh and Jaya Bachchan, Dimple Kapadia and Nikhil and Shweta Nanda.
Their impeccable artworks have also been worn by actors in the movies, Umrao Jaan, Devdas, Lajja, Khoon Bhari Maang, Pyaar ka Saaya and Izzatda.

Shahab Durazi

“The only way to go is specialisation. Make each week collection specific, season specific. Every designer chooses his platform— whether Bridal, Pret, Couture and uses the right platform to showcase his work. It makes fashion sense, business sense.”
Shahab has a penchant for perfection. He attended the Cathedral and John Connon School in Mumbai. After graduating in the field of commerce he went on to explore his creativity by enrolling in the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.
His early works, with their contemporary but very Indian designs, took the fashion world by storm. His designs are subtle, sophisticated and glamorous.
Labelled as the master of contour, he is perhaps the only Indian designer who personally sketches and cuts every fabric himself.

Gaurav Gupta

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“Live life like you’ve got absolutely nothing to lose’’
The designer Gaurav Gupta is an alumnus of Central Saint Martin’s College, London. Gaurav works very closely with lines, the three-dimensional and the motion of fabric. His embroideries are modern with innovative draping. All this creates signature looks that are one- of-a-kind, dramatic works of art.
Gaurav’s work was recognised early on with awards like ‘The Future of Couture’ trophy at Altaroma Altamoda at the Rome Couture Fashion Week and ‘The Roots of Creativity’ title at the Mittelmoda Fashion Awards in Italy besides other recognitions in Japan, Russia and India.

Raghavendra Rathore

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“A good Jodhpuri bandhgala,” says designer Raghavendra Rathore, “is identified by the authenticity of the cut and compatibility of the fit”
Raghavendra Rathore stems from a royal lineage with a family history that goes back 1200 years. Jodhpur, a city rich in heritage and culture, forms the canvas of the ‘Raghavendra Rathore Jodhpur’ brand.
He studied at one of the best schools in the world—the Parsons School of Design. He apprenticed under Oscar De La Renta and Donna Karan before launching his own exclusive menswear line.
He has won many awards of excellence and is commonly associated with the bandhgala or the Jodhpuri jacket and the famous Jodhpuri polo pants.

Manish Arora

Designer Manish Arora's show at the India Couture Week 2014, in New Delhi on July 18.2014. (Photo: Amlan Paliwal/IANS)

“If your product is ready for the international market, then it will be there.”
Manish Arora is considered to be the John Galliano of India, as he has produced stunning ensembles that offer a rich combination of traditional Indian crafts, colours and funky motifs with classic Western silhouettes.
His designs are quirky, futuristic and feature an enigmatic fusion of tradition and modernity.
The Punjabi designer from Mumbai studied at NIFT, New Delhi. He launched his brand in 1997, Manish Arora, by foraying into the retail segment in the Indian market.
In 2000, he participated in the very first India Fashion Week that was held in New Delhi as well as the Hong Kong Fashion Week by representing India.
Manish Arora has collaborated with MAC, Swatch and Reebok for his other signature collections.
Women’s wear has seen a metamorphosis in India over the last decade and Indian by Manish Arora is a brand that holds true to stylishly dressing the contemporary Indian women. In 2011 he was appointed Creative Head at Paco Rabanne.

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