The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Vintage and virginal, Sabya is in Vogue
- Calcutta designer to appear in Italian version of international fashion bible

Mumbai, July 23: Arielle Bouchet, the tall, attractive fashion writer from Vogue Italia, has too much on her hands. She has to meet designer after eager designer, their representatives, pushy fashion photographers thrusting under her nose samples of their work and squeeze in a trip to Delhi. But top on her priority list is a photo shoot with “Sabya”.

Calcutta kid Sabyasachi Mukherjee, who stormed the Lakme India Fashion Week with his chaste, vintage, virginal collection, looks set to reach another landmark. The Italian Vogue, a bible for the international fash frat, is taking serious note of him.

To start with, Bouchet has got hold of Atul Kasbekar, “India’s leading photographer” whose name she can’t quite pronounce, to shoot “Sabya”. While the designer will be shot by the seaside, Sheetal Malhar will be modelling his clothes.

Bouchet is not quite sure if the 27-year-old Sabyasachi will be the first Indian designer to appear in the Italian Vogue, but the respect with which he is being looked at is definitely something novel. It may be the beginning of a new era of recognition for Indian designers, yet to be acknowledged for their work abroad, though India remains a perpetual source of inspiration in the West as an idea as well as an outsourcing haven.

There are other designers Bouchet is looking at, like Tarun Tahiliani, whose name, too, she can’t pronounce, and Rehane, whose name eludes her till she takes out the lady’s visiting card, but “Sabya” is the one she “really noticed” and can’t stop talking about him.

She thinks he is “authentic” and prophesies a stupendous future for him in the West.

“He will be very appreciated in Europe. His was a pure and interesting creation. It was peaceful, done only in ivory and white,” says Bouchet.

Sabyasachi broke the mould of his image last year, when he blazed into the fashion scene, with his startling “kora” collection this year using only whites and creams. It was unlike anything the ramp has seen.

Bouchet thinks that it’s the politics behind Sabyasachi’s aesthetics that really carried the day. “He goes against the trend to portray women as sexy and aggressive and shows them as human and soft. A woman is foremost a mother, she gives life, a sacred act. He shows the spirit of a woman,” she says.

She points out that one of his creations even showed a pregnant woman. He reminds one that he is from the city of Mother Teresa. “His is a spiritual and intellectual creation,” she concludes.

Vogue is not alone. Sabyasachi has also won applause from his redoubtable peers.

Tahiliani calls him a genius. Wendell Rodricks calls him that and more.

“The day belonged to the great white hope of the future of Indian fashion.... This was a collection that was so perfectly tuned that it could draw applause from stone,” wrote Rodricks in his column in a daily here.

Sabyasachi himself looked untouched by all this hullabaloo. “If the Italian Vogue wants to do feature on me, it speaks for itself,” he said.

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