How has Indian fashion fared in these 25 years?
It has grown a lot, but compared to the West fashion in India is still in its infancy . Not for lack of talent, but finance.In India, it will always remain a secondary, peripheral industry because there are so many other issues that need and get more attention. The socio-economic structure of our country, its conservatism also does not favour fashion, otherwise a very progressive profession. The biggest disadvantage for us designers has been the lack of marketing skills.We have never had the backing of big business houses or the government, as happens in many countries. In Japan, fashion enjoys generous patronage from the government and in Europe, the LVMH group alone has backed so many incredible designers.
In the early 2000s, Indian fashion was synonymous with the Page 3 culture -grand shows, scandalous post-show parties. Is that brand of fashion relevant today?
It’s not relevant at all. As life is getting more complicated, clothes are becoming simpler. In India, fashion is mostly women-centric. But now with more and more women in the workforce, they hardly have time to dress up. They want clothes that are utilitarian. There’s no space for fuss. So the concept of bizarre drama in fashion is out, now it’s time for shanti.Fashion has calmed down. Like water, it has found its level.
Your wild Page 3 parties used to be the talk of the town. Do you miss those days?
I hate those days now. I wince at the thought of them. I have grown up. That phase is not a part of my life anymore. I have been such an extrovert in my life but now I have turned into a recluse. I don’t go out much and avoid press. It’s a part of growing up. You tend to find fewer friends and so you tend to be with fewer people.
How important is excess to fashion?
Very . Fashion is all about impulsiveness. It has a charming madness to it.It cannot be serious. It has to have humour; it should become a memory .
At times these excesses land artists in trouble.Should fashion or art be political?
For me there is no `should’. Art doesn’t have to be for something.Art should be for art’s sake. It is for the finer senses of the man, for refinement. Artists should have the freedom to create what they want. If it is for a political or social cause, then so be it. Any restrictions will kill art. Look at what happened to Husain. He was punished for painting nudes when there are nude sculptures all over India. What’s wrong with nudity? Why do we have such regressive archaic laws like Article 377? India has become like a time machine which only takes you backward.In these 25 years, you not only designed
In these 25 years, you not only designed clothes but also carpets, cigarette lighters, jewellery, private residences etc. What’s next?
I am launching a line of high-end crystal ware that I have developed in Czech Republic and Slovakia. I am working on two books that will chronicle fashion through my eyes. And Swarovski will soon be stocking jewellery designed by me. Doing different things keeps me busy and lets me use my creativity in different fields.
How has e-commerce impacted fashion?
It has been great for all other product categories but not as much for fashion. In India we want to touch and feel clothes be fore we buy them. We won’t spend Rs 3-4 lakh on an outfit without actually trying it on and getting it ap proved from our mothers, g rand mothers, husbands.
But having said that, one cannot deny that e commerce is the future. I myself am a very active e-shopper. And why not?
The traffic is so bad, we don’t have enough time, so we shop online.
Does the West still think that Indian fashion is about lehengas and henna?
In the ’70s and ’80s, the wester n buyers came looking for cottons and block prints. Not any more. Now they come looking for clothes that are priced as high as in the West, and with impeccable production value. But for an average westerner, Indian fashion is still `costume’ thanks to Bollywood.