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Cosmic call
Simran Kaur Mundi in Satya Paul.
Picture by Rashbehari Das

Puneet Nanda, the managing director and designer of Satya Paul was in town on Saturday to launch Cosmic Dance, his fall-winter 2008 collection. Modelled by Simran Kaur Mundi in the refurbished Forum store, the line is inspired by the Chola Bronzes. t2 talks to the designer about Calcutta, copy cats and cash crunch…

What are the key features of the Cosmic Dance collection?

The title comes from Shiva’s Nataraj pose. If you notice, all Indian gods dance a lot! In a way it denotes their omnipresence. Coming back to the collection, it is inspired by a precise sculpture, perhaps the most typical embodiment of the cosmic dance. I thought it was beyond beautiful and the form, figure all went to inspire a collection based on the Chola Bronze statues. The colours (all deep and antiquated), the details, the sheen, the feeling and the strong emphasis on form, the royalty… all the features of the collection represent the theme of the collection.

How do you define the sensibility of the extremely pret Satya by Satya Paul on one hand and high-end Signature on the other?

I would say it is just about different perspectives. For Signature there is no compromise. If we are doing kantha or bandhni, it is the really fine kantha or bandhni. If it is lace, it the finest lace. If it's a print, then it is the most interesting and conceptual print. Signature is basically, the best of the breed. Satya on the other hand is not aiming any such thing. It is playful, trendy and full of new ideas. Satya Paul too has its own style sensibility. It is a balance between modernity and tradition.

How has the economic gloom effected fashion?

Well the effect is clear. The Sensex has crashed, money is lost, valuations have gone down, someone who is 300 crore is now 100 crore. His lifestyle will not change. The gloom will effect certain class of people more than the other. Most people have begun to rationalise their spends. People are no longer spending mindlessly on fashion. As the dollar rises, things dependant on imports will be effected. So yes, the fashion industry is definitely effected.

Your company has brought Kenzo, Canali, Aigner, Paul Smith, Just Cavalli and Rivet to Delhi’s sprawling Emporio. Why do think Calcutta is not ready for the luxury boom?

It’s true that Calcutta is not entirely ready. The pattern of spends in the stores indicate that in Calcutta the culture is different. Maybe it is their conservative upbringing, maybe it is the socialist angle but it is clear that the city does not believe in the ‘I am who or what I spend’ funda.

There is seemingly not enough critical mass that is required to sustain the luxury market yet. I don’t think there are many women who spend Rs 20,000 or 30,000 on a dress or a man who spends Rs 75,000 on a suit. Even if they do, I think they don’t like to buy in Calcutta. It is a psychological thing.

But Calcutta does exceedingly well when it comes to Satya Paul copies…

(Laughs) Yes it does! If you go to any sari shop here and ask for Satya Paul, they will show you, whether or not they sell it! The truth is that sadly only the customer suffers. Calcutta and Delhi make lots of our silk copies and Surat specialises in polyesters.

I always believe that if someone wears a copy, they aspire for the real thing. Copies are flattering initially but when it comes to losing tens of crores then it is not! It's a sad state of affairs of the industry.

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