The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Outlandish, yet wearable

Simple, creative, minimal and affordable clothes, “for people with good taste and no money”. That’s designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee’s latest offering for the Calcutta customer. His autumn range of tops and kurtis, to be launched on Wednesday at CIMA Gallery, bears his brand of the conventional combined with the unconventional, wearability with a touch of the outlandish.

The essentially ethnic collection is “cosmopolitan, but has undertones of Bengal”. Handbags, or botuas, made of kantha patchwork, quirky kurtis made from crushed gamchas and tops made from lungis. There are bright colours and soft pastels, woven work and simple tailoring.

“They’re trendy and young at heart, but for everyone. I haven’t really been daring in the designs. There’s more of a hint of it through the textiles I’ve used,” explains Sabyasachi, seated cross-legged on the floor of his studio on Hazra Road, with a variety of garments of all shapes, sizes and colours spread out. “My point is that you can wear good clothes without dressing up like a Christmas tree.”

Although he feels that Calcutta is too conservative and “needs to experiment more”, Sabyasachi agrees that fashion consciousness here is high. “It’s there, but below the surface. No one wants to be the first to try something new,” he laments. “My creations for the people in this city are definitely more toned down than elsewhere.”

Lakme Fashion Week might be over, but his work certainly isn’t. Next up is the MTV style awards, where he’s one of four Indian designers invited to showcase their work. Then, it’s the Bridal Asia show at the end of the month. Alongside, work on Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s film Black is on at a furious pace.

Through cries from his workmen and calls from his clients, he remains cool. “We Pisceans are a generally confused and disorganised lot,” Sabyasachi, also known as Pepsi, grins. “My mind works faster than my hands and legs. I meditate sometimes for peace.”

The secret of his success – a grinding daily routine of waking up at 7 am and going to bed around 2 am. “My father was a strict disciplinarian. So I have the advantage of early grounding.” Schedules notwithstanding, he works by his own rules. But the burden is far from light, forcing him to “give up things like a social life”. What this rising star of fashion wants most is a holiday, on a beach. But in the long-term, “I want do a fashion designing course in London, and I also want to pursue my English degree. Someday…”

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