'We live in a world where art and wearability blend superfluously': LFW's grand finale designer Amit Aggarwal
WITH THE USE of avant-garde designs, indigenous craftsmanship and fabric woven from recycled plastic and industrial material, Delhi-based designer Amit Aggarwal has become a force to reckon with in the world of fashion. Launched in 2012, his couture label, Amit Aggarwal has also become a go-to label for B-town when it comes to making a statement — be it Malaika Arora donning a red sari for Armaan Jain’s reception or Tamannaah Bhatia wearing a green metallic sari gown at a friend’s wedding or Sara Ali Khan opting for a holographic structured metallic dress during her film promotion. Such is the positioning of his brand that Katy Perry was also seen wearing an upcycled skirt made with vintage patola and neon polymer for an editorial photoshoot during her visit to India last November. As the futuristic designer gears up for a grand finale at Lakmé Fashion Week Summer/Resort 2020, Indulge caught up with him to know more about his upcoming collection, Axil and having Kareena Kapoor Khan as the showstopper. Excerpts from the interaction:
Q: Run us through the mood board for your LFW collection, Axil. How long did it take for you to create this collection?
Axil is built around a vision of the future; a world where natural, manmade, real and unreal distinct things exist together to create a harmonious entity. It is a visualisation of an unreal wildflower growing in a concrete or metallic building. Overall, we spent around three months on this collection.
Q: Tell us more about the surface techniques and silhouettes.
The surfaces involve a lot of indigenous craftsmanship, which comes from meticulous hand embroidery and traditional weaving of fabrics. But what stands out as our unique design language, is the fact that we use a lot of industrial waste, polymer details and recycled rubber to create these surfaces. We are trying to understand new age materials alongside the history and the beauty of Indian craftsmanship, and this lends itself into creating completely new surfaces and textures.
Q: Polymers have served as the collection’s central material. How and when were you introduced to polymers for the first time?
All of us have grown up with the use of polymers. It is the basic form that makes plastic. As a brand, what we want people to understand is that something that will ultimately end up in a landfill can also be made useful through couture.
Q: How long does the weaving process take?
A lot of the textiles are handwoven with the polymer. And, a meter of that would take at least 6-10 days for weaving.
Q: What inspired you to go in the direction of sustainability?
Today, clothing is your voice. It solves the purpose of protection and social status but more than that. It is about the choices that you make as a person. Clothes embody your beliefs. This explains our use of alternative material in the clothes we make.
We’ve been using polymers ever since we as a label started creating clothes, but I have always been subversive about my opinions. When sustainability became a talking point, I realised that we had always worked in that direction. Today, the world has taken notice of things that it didn’t care about a decade ago. And, it’s good that sustainability has come into the limelight.
Q: Will this collection only have couture pieces or is it a mix of prêt and couture? Also, does menswear find a place in the collection?
The collection is a very interesting mix. There are eclectic separates, couture and futuristic saris. Besides this, we also have a very small but distinct capsule of menswear.
Q: You’ve said working with Tarun Tahiliani was the best gamble you’ve taken in your career. How did the experience shape you?
In 2002, when I went to Tarun’s studio, his aesthetic was diametrically opposite to what I was as a young person who was right out of college had in mind. Being part of his studio not what I thought it would be. The time I spent there was the most enriching time of my career. Not only did I get to understand different aspects of clothing but got to live and breathe the vision of the greatness of his aesthetic.
Q: Your aesthetics have always been very futuristic in approach. In the beginning, did you look for acceptance from your clients and peers or did it come naturally?
I have always believed that instead of making a product for the market, one should make a product and find a suitable market. Throughout my career, I haven’t changed my aesthetic. I have tweaked it so that it will suit the occasion. But from day one my collections have been avant-garde, using unusual materials, and I’ve been lucky to find people who like my clothes and buy it.
Q: And, where do you draw the line between art, wearability and functionality?
I think we live in a world where all of them blend superfluously. Though clothing does serve a purpose over art, I feel that with our exposure to what is happening the world over, we try and accept a lot more than we would have years ago. If something inspires you and your clothing reflects it, it’s easier to accept it as beautiful.
Q: Lastly, how excited are you to have Kareena Kapoor Khan walking the ramp for you?
We’re thrilled to dress Kareena for the Lakmé Absolute Grand Finale this season. She’s been a muse of the brand. Strong and beautiful, a true Amit Aggarwal woman in every sense. She’s magical on the runway and I can’t wait to see her as our showstopper!