Indulge catches up with godfather of avant-garde, Gaurav Gupta, as he opens his first Kolkata flagship
Kolkata’s couture cred just grew stronger as the trailblazing fashion designer Gaurav Gupta just unveiled his newest flagship in the city. We’ll admit, our invites for the opening night didn’t prepare us for the sexy, high-octane runway romp we were to encounter that evening at Galleria 1910, the 109-year old heritage manor which houses the store.
The couturier has been a steadfast name in Indian haute fashion, he has helped streamline the evolving high fashion aesthetic in the country, and is by far the biggest risk-taker in Indian couture. From Kareena Kapoor Khan to Kangana Ranaut, Gupta’s runway spectacles have had the most iconic showstoppers.
But at the opening night of his Kolkata flagship, the showstopper was perhaps the moody, dynamic rush of drama which flowed through the expanse of the spectacular 1,600 square feet space, as the models sashayed down the magnificent colonial staircases.
Perhaps the glitziest night of the year so far, we witnessed some of the most distinct names from the world of fashion and showbiz at the opening; while Gaurav showed his collection to Anamika Khanna at one corner, Kiran Uttam Ghosh chatted with supermodel Indrani Paul at another. Gaurav’s latest couture collection Undercurrent is all about cascading foliage gowns and plumy, disco era-inspired sculpted minis, featuring his signature volume play and abstractism.
Gupta is not just one of the major heralders of the sari gown, but has also relentlessly worked towards incorporating a global aesthetic to Indian haute couture. We didn’t think we could steal the man of the moment for a tete-a-tete, but of course, even during the busiest night of his week, the gracious host made some time to talk to Indulge.
Why did you choose Kolkata for your next flagship?
I have so many clients from Kolkata, and even Bangladesh coming up to me and asking me when I planned to open a store here. Also the brand is getting bigger, we want more retail presence. But I think one of the most important reasons is definitely this beautiful building, it’s a heritage site; it's so in sync with my label's aesthetic. Also Kolkata itself - we obviously wanted to be in this city! I love the obsession with design and art I find here.
Kolkata, I find has its own personality. Of course, all cities are different; Delhi is different from Mumbai, and every city has its own sense of fashion. The whole country is going through an evolution right now; everyone has opened up to newer cultures, with social media and all the travelling and Instagramming. So, what we’re doing is, we are essentially bringing a new culture to Kolkata.
You just introduced a new fine jewellery line to mark the completion of 15 years in the industry...
When my brides wear a gown for their receptions or engagements, I hate the jewellery they wear with it. I had to design my own jewellery. The thing, is polki jewellery is exceptionally designed in the country, but diamond jewellery, not so much. My line-up is very couture, the design philosophy is very different. It's inspired by feathers and infinity, so many conceptual influences as well.
The line is called Gaurav Gupta Occasions Fine Jewellery; Occasions Fine Jewellery is our partnering brand from Ahmedabad, they have been making diamond jewellery for over a hundred years, their craftsmanship is amazing.
How has the language of your label changed in the last 15 years?
It's always been experimental, but it has matured and become more confident. I think my art has definitely become more refined over the years. And we have expanded a lot, be it in menswear, or saris. You'll see my collections are not very seasonal; if you own a Gaurav Gupta, they are pieces of wearable art and you invest in them. You hand them down years later. They are very progressive, yet timeless.
You played a big role in the making of the sari gown
Yes, we did - playing with the sari conceptually, and the sari gown, especially, has been my thing. We have changed the concept of Indian wear, actually. Now, every woman is wearing a gown, or a sari gown at her wedding. It is a change in philosophy.
You have a huge client base overseas. Do you plan to expand abroad more effectively?
Of course. We are already selling in London and quite a few other places. I have a huge client base there. I have people flying in from the Middle East to shop from me. We are definitely planning to expand internationally next year.
Why do you think the imprint of Indian fashion isn't as dynamic, globally?
When you look at the global fashion industry, the European fashion industry to be specific, it’s over two hundred years old. Indian fashion industry is thirty years old. It takes that much time for anything to come to life. Fashion, as an industry, is very young in India. It takes infrastructure, skill, business acumen, all of these factors come together to develop a global market. It is going to happen with a brand like ours in the next five years or so. Everything takes time.
What is the safest fashion bet for the Indian woman?
She can never go wrong with a sari. A Gaurav Gupta sari is perfect for anything, be it cocktails or pujas, it's the most versatile garment. It flatters the Indian body so well, we've played around with the sari and made it sexier.
Your favourite colour palettes?
I love pastels like ecru, and ivory, soft pink, blush pink, greys, silvers. I love red forever.
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