...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!)