It Rhymes With Versace..

...but Sabyasachi (pronounced sub-yuh-saachi) Mukherjee is more the Marc Jacobs of India (his clothes are equally off-kilter and yet eye-pleasing, though to be frank I think he's in a league of his own) . I'm useless at reviewing, but given that he's been near the top of my favourites list since his first India Fashion Week collection in 2002, a bit of explaining why might be in order.
The simple fact is, most Indian designers of that time seemed to envision their models as impossibly dolled-up, perfect, stiletto-wearing society hostesses/ladies who lunch- not a bad thing really, but Indian clothes are practically synonymous with fuss and embellishments, things that I personally can't stand in OD. Putting it bluntly, they simply weren't cool (unless you counted the odd exception, like Rajesh Pratap Singh or Manish Arora) . I don't think it's overstating the point to say that Sabyasachi changed that to a huge extent. Sadly, there don't seem to be pictures of his first LIFW collection from 2002 anywhere online, though what was revolutionary wasn't just the clothes themselves but also the styling - his models were sent down the runway in patchwork, turbans, giant Jarvis Cocker-esque glasses, and their obviously expensive, but still slightly roughed-up clothes worn as casually as bathrobes. He'd basically tweaked the nose of the conventionally held ideas of beauty and style (glasses? Quelle horreur! and later collections, which were equally slouchily brilliant, included models with fake baby bumps and models who munched on bread and chocolate while on the walk) - and that doesn't seem like as much of an achievement as it really is if you weren't watching newspaper/Fashion TV coverage of one parade of slinky pastel-coloured, sequinned/crystalled evening clothes after another back then....
But he's brought an edge to the notion of ethnic dressing, which is quite something. And, having had a peep at his clothes in real life, I can safely say they're even more beautiful in real life than they are in the pictures- and lovely to touch. He showed at New York Fashion Week for SS07 and SS08 (the latter was a fantastic show- watch it here. Or maybe that's just me finding the hammer-and-sickle t-shirt funny since we've been under Communist rule for the last thirty years, and probably won't come out of it even after the next thirty). I heard criticism of the show for being sloppy with the footwear (the commenter said New York demanded stilettos. I say, rubbish. I don't see stilettos going with this lot at all) and lacking shoes and bags, but frankly I don't think it's much of a nitpick - and I like the crazy volume even if it's supposed to be 'out'- though I'd love to see what he could do with a bit of sharp tailoring (his take on librarian chic? Me loves!). But I do think NY Fashion Week is the wrong one for him...London might have worked better, perhaps, given his slightly left-of-centre ideas and the fact that he's retailed from Brown's for years now.
Also, here's an interview with the designer. Do read.

SS04, India Fashion Week (smudgy lipstick, socks and jholas- bags like those on the girl to the right- enlarging is a must!)
SS07, New York Fashion Week

SS08, New York Fashion Week
SS08, New York Fashion Week
SS08, New York Fashion Week

Backstage SS08, New York Fashion Week


Heather said...

He sounds fascinating! And I love the clothes.

The Clothes Horse said...

I like the quirky clothes. Those brocade-ish pants and striped socks, very fun.

evie said...

I agree with the clothes horse - especially with those striped socks. And the first picture - very Ugly Betty meets sexy secretary. Ok, I am rubbish at reviews too. All I'll say is me likey :)

riz said...

It's really cool that you are covering this. I had heard of him before but never really had time to contemplate his clothes. BTW, what I saw of Manish A's stuff, I didn't really like. A little too theatrical for a minimalist like me, I suppose.

Perakath said...

Lol actually we haven't all been under communist rule for 30 years. But I guess he has.

susie_bubble said...

I've been keeping an eye on this designer since he started getting stocked at more places in Europe..... I really love the wearability of it all...which is an odd thing for me to say but despite the quirks, the oddity, the nannyish-ness of it all... it's all really doable...

Elisabeth said...

Cool; thanks for telling us about this designer! I love the colour combinations and the experiments with layering are great.

By the by, I've tagged you for an award! :P

Meg said...

You've absolutely ruined me, I am now definately going to be obsessing about the first SS07 outfit with the red scarf. His clothing also looks versatile and perfect for layering!

Blue Floppy Hat said...

Sorry I took so long to get back to this..
Heather: I'm sorry about the broken interview link (if that's what you were talking about), but I've fixed it and you're right- he's a whole lot more articulate than a lot of the current design crowd.

The Clothes Horse: It all sounds so crazy (brocade pants), but he does it so well..

Evie: Ugly Betty meets sexy secretary is pretty dead-on, methinks..

Riz: I don't normally do coverage like this because I get left really unexcited by most Indian designers...but this one is someone whose clothes I can envision myself buying and wearing when I have the money for it so I figured spreading some love was in order. And I'm not a huge Manish Arora fan myself (kitsch is not one of my favourite things), but I do appreciate the drama in his clothes when he reins it in just a bit (like he did for his AW07 collection in London)-
I reckon he's a taste I have yet to acquire properly..

Perakath: Ooops, should've clarified that..when I said we, I meant him as well as me (I am from Cal after all)- didn't realise it could be interpreted that way.

Susie: I didn't know he was getting wider distribution across Europe..good for him. And you hit the nail on the head, it's exactly why I like his clothes so much. Though I personally don't believe they'd have as much character had he been from another place, the casualness (word?) of the whole thing looks a bit like Little Edie might, if she did the ethnic route (I know it's an overplayed reference, but here it seems to fit).
Elisabeth: Part of my love for the clothes comes from the fact that they have such an attitude. And thanks for the award :)
Meg: I know, the red scarf is a bit..arresting, isn't it? I've been batty about his clothes for the last five years, it's nice to see people agreeing with me about it.

Retro Jordan said...

Thanks for posting, I really enjoyed your most recent post. I think you should post more often, you obviously have natural ability for blogging!

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