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‘Contrary to popular belief, Kolkata buyers don’t really hesitate to spend money’

… but must feel confident about their purchase, says luxury designer Esha Sethi Thirani, who is bringing the new-wave sari to Kolkata

Ujjainee Roy | Published 14.06.22, 07:54 PM
(Left) A draped pant sari inspired by the Grecian column dress; (right) Alaya F wears a delicate tulle lehenga featuring 3D flowers

(Left) A draped pant sari inspired by the Grecian column dress; (right) Alaya F wears a delicate tulle lehenga featuring 3D flowers


Would you consider a smocked aanchal for your next cocktail do? Or maybe a pant sari? Kolkata-based luxury designer Esha Sethi Thirani is making clothes for the brides of Instagram — deconstructable desi separates, sharara saris, peplum corsets, dressy slitted togas, tulle culottes, cape saris — the designer’s utility-first aesthetic is winning some big brownie points.

“Saris have always been my go-to silhouette for any wedding. I’m always enthusiastic about adding different styles of saris to my collection. Pre-stitched saris are, in my opinion, the perfect option for fashion enthusiasts on the go,” Thirani shares.

Esha Sethi Thirani

Esha Sethi Thirani

However, acclimating Kolkata’s buyers to new-wave, pre-draped saris is no mean feat, especially when it comes to the bridal market. But Thirani’s early years proved to be her training wheels. The designer’s mum has been running a popular multi-designer store in Ballygunge for years, which offered her a realistic look at the buyers’ market in Kolkata and beyond.

Thirani, who showcased her debut line at the Paris Fashion Week in 2018, (an edgy, high-octane collection featuring kalamkari appliques), is also making waves in Bollywood. Gen-Z icons such as Alaya F, Sanya Malhotra, Mrunal Thakur and Raja Kumari have been spotted in Thirani’s modernist pieces. My Kolkata sat down with the designer for a tete-a-tete to explore her work more closely. Excerpts from the conversation:

What are the silhouettes you’re leaning towards this year?

In 2022, despite the uncertainties looming over us, people have started travelling again and planning their wedding wardrobes like they used to. This year, I am leaning more towards fuss-free and classic-meets-contemporary kinds of styles.

Brides are now turning towards lehengas and saris that are more carefree and effortless and those that can be reused more often. I am also trying to reinvent the kaftan in imaginative ways, for destination weddings. I want to stick to my pastel palette. I can tell this year will be about classic silhouettes redefined to suit a more dynamic new age look.

Tell us a little about how you ventured into design.

After I completed my master’s degree in human resources from Lancaster University, I came back home to Kolkata, to find a job in the same field, but unfortunately, the options were limited at the time due to the financial recession. So, I joined my mother to assist her, who was then running our multi-label store in Queens Park, Advitiya. Once I got involved in the business, I knew instantly that fashion designing was my calling and that I wanted to launch my own label.

After that, there was no turning back. We made our debut at the India Beach Fashion Week in Goa in 2015 and went on to showcase our work at Paris Fashion Week in 2018.

Tell us a little about your newest festive line.

Our summer ’22 line is due to be launched next month and I’m super excited. This year, we’ve tried to bring back some old classics like the churidar, which was replaced by the sharara trend, resort-friendly kaftans and lightweight lehengas in an attempt to create outfits that are young and modern. A light pastel palette, with a myriad of textures and fabrics with delicate beadwork has been our approach this season.

With every new collection, my effort has been to reinvent the timeless sari silhouette in different ways – be it a layered sari, a sharara sari, saris with capes, pant saris and so on. This year, our summer ’22 line will also showcase saris in a new avatar. I’m hoping my clients will appreciate these as much.

What’s your approach to luxury fashion, especially post the pandemic?

The Covid-19 outbreak changed everyone’s outlook on fashion. Since social distancing and intimate weddings became the new norm, our focus was to slow down and control inventory, make fewer pieces per collection and transition to a more relaxed memo – lighter, more wearable silhouettes that could be re-worn.

Tell us a little about your bridal wear. What are the elements you’re focussing on this year?

There has been a major shift from bright reds and corals to softer tones and pastels like champagne, stone and ivory, which blend very well with our brand aesthetic. We have a lot of requests for customisations these days with brides wanting lighter veils and delicate embroidery for their big day. 3D work, appliques, bugle beads and pearls are some of the elements that we have incorporated into our bridal pieces this year.

Tell us about your Kolkata buyers. Are they more willing to spend more on luxury picks now?

Kolkata has been the home of my label and the city has given me immense love. Contrary to popular belief, Kolkata clients don’t really hesitate to spend money – they just have to feel confident about what they’re buying. For most of the brides I know, Kolkata is always on their list of cities to explore for bridal and trousseau shopping. If it’s value for money and it suits their style people are sure to make a purchase!

What are some of your top sellers this season?

Of course, our pre-stitched saris! Our layered saris and our saris with smocked aanchals were our biggest sellers and the most sought-after looks last year. Apart from those, our corsets with structured shoulders, beaded jumpsuits, and lehengas with 3D embellishments have also received an overwhelming response.

Last updated on 14.06.22, 09:21 PM

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