Osman Abdul Razak brings Japanese colourist to Chennai for first ever patina trunk show
As we walk into the cool confines of Osman Abdul Razak’s bespoke studio Atelier on Khader Nawaz Khan road to meet with Japanese colourist Tetsuya Sato of Brusque House in Japan, we are instantly drawn in by a neatly set up workstation. Standing behind the station is Tetsuya Sato, who greets us with the traditional Japanese bow and a friendly Kon’nichiwa. “Call him Sato San. We all do,” urges Osman, who is also the Creative Director of gabbana.life, pointing to the Japanese artist, who is dressed in a bright mustard bandhgala. We are at Chennai’s first ever Patina Trunk show, featuring Japanese colourist Tetsuya Sato and hosted by Osman Abdul Razak in partnership with Bridlen Shoes, based in Chennai.
The trunk show, Osman explains, is a specially curated sartorial experience for the discerning shoe lovers in the city. Which is perhaps why this edition of the workshop was limited to 10 participants. “We wanted to give people a firsthand, engaging experience of what goes into the making of a signature, bespoke shoe, especially in Chennai. We used our Instagram handles, @osmanabdulrazak, @gabbana.life and @bridlenshoes to put the word out and had participants register for the two-day trunk show,” he explains.
Thrice as nice
This is Bridlen’s first collaboration with Osman Abdul Razak. Mohamed Affan, shoemaker and founder of Bridlen was instrumental in bringing Sato to Chennai, Osman tells us. “We wanted a different experience for our customers. We have been in the tailoring business for 12 years now, and more than just having our clients come in and buy something, we wanted to offer them something a bit more personal.” Affan adds, “I have been supplying to Brusque House for over a year now, and I personally find his technique amazing. So, when Osman and I decided to collaborate, bringing Sato San down for a special trunk show seemed like a good idea.”
Dapper in Derbys
As we get talking, Sato San tells us about learning the patina art (see box) from its creators French luxury shoe brand Berluti, and honing his skills at Parisian shoemaker Maison Corthay, before he launched his own brand Brusque House in Tokyo in 2015. “Abstract painters Andy Warhol and Jackson Pollock are my inspiration,” he begins, as he changes out of his bandhgala into his work clothes — a well-worn chef’s jacket. “Like them, I too like to work in abstract,” he adds, pointing to a half done Three Eye Derby, prepped beforehand at Bridlen’s factories. “The process can take hours to do, so for the workshop alone, preliminary layers were added earlier at our factory,” Osman informs. For the purpose of the workshop, three different kinds of shoes from Bridlen were available for customisation – the Double Monk, the Three Eye Derby and the Derby Brogue — in brown, blue and noir shades.
Colour in the clouds
As Sato San begins mixing colours to finish the rest of the Derby, he tells us about his signature style — the Cloudy Palette, where the shoes are finished in such a way that they resemble the night sky. “Inspired by Warhol and Pollock, I thought of bringing something similar to the shoes I paint, which is how I developed this technique. After I apply the colour on the base, I work towards gradation, to give it a cloudy effect, before using a sealant to seal the design in place,” he says, layering the shoe with a blue dye and a touch of black (for the cloudy effect), with a cotton rag. “A shoe can get anywhere between five to 15 layers of colour,” says Sato, adding that the effect can be used for personalising bags, wallets, furniture and even dashboards.
Gloss & glam
It was well over an hour, spent watching the colourist at work, chatting with the trio, and sipping on homemade ice tea from Affan’s house, when Sato San grandly announced that he is almost done. A blast of air from the dryer and the shoe was all set for a good rub down using wax and spit polish with water. He then proceeded to polish the residue dye off the buckles and used the paintbrush to finish off the cloudy palette effect on one of the Derbys. The difference was stark. One shoe gleamed with the mirror glossy shine that the artist had worked so hard on getting right. Amidst oohs and aaahs, the artist signed off saying, “Handcrafting is definitely an art and makes all the difference, especially when it comes to mass-manufactured products like shoes. It is a one-of-a-kind experience.”
For those who missed this edition of the show, there’s good news. Sato will be back later this year for a second edition in the city. As we take leave, we cannot help but urge Osman to maybe make the experience inclusive of women too, the next time around.
Rs 10,500 onwards.
Bridlen shoes available at Atelier & online.