Deja vu hit me as I walked into the Sabyasachi show at the Taj Palace for reasons I thought were unknown. I made my way to my seat, and it irked me continuously through the show. Why did this environment seem so familiar?
Only until after the show did I realize that Sabyasachi for his most recent couture collection, decided to present it on what resembled his terrace at home in Calcutta.
It was an unusual decision, but like most other things in his design philosophy, it was an extremely personal one. You ask him about a pleat, the cut of a back, the placement of a rose, the arrangement of button or why he chose this silhouette and there is always a reason, if you’re lucky an animated story that will make you nostalgic about a time or a moment you haven’t even experienced yourself.
This is his version of reality.
The pressure that Sabyasachi had for this couture week has been unprecedented in his career. After select criticism from the industry for dressing Vidya Balan “too costumey/conservatively” for the Cannes Film Festival where she was a judge. He had to change the point of reference about him in society conversation, bring it back to his creativity and his dreamy couture.
When in the history of international celebdom has one phenomenally famous leading lady entrusted her entire wardrobe of over 10 days to one designer? Day looks, night looks even what she wore to the airport had been pre-planned with Sabyasachi. Vidya’s naturally inclined aesthetic to his traditional sarees and Sabya’s styling was misinterpreted by many journalists and editors.
Apart from maybe one questionable outfit, nothing was really as bad as it had been presented to seem. In retrospect, one can see it was just timed during a socio-political, and thus cultural narrative that seemed to need to rebuke conservatism.
New India, modern India could not be represented on such an international platform in this traditional, Gayatri-Devi-esque light anymore. It was simultaneously too aristocratic, nationalistic and it didn’t represent where we are now, our liberality and development. Gone are the time of maharajahs and hierarchy. Supposedly.
Vidya Balan as an Indian had to represent the dreams and aspirations of a country with a population of over 1 billion people simultaneously and ONLY sartorially. What she did, said or what she was there for, was not enough, and neither was her figure. For a country that usually embraces voluptuousness with such jubilation, this vitriol was unrivaled.
So did he change his narrative?
He didn’t just do that. He changed the narrative of the entire industry too. He stayed true to his aesthetic and his signature styling. He didn’t remove anything from his repertoire he just added to it.
His go to styles, his button ups, closed necks, his cinched empire waists and peplum dresses everything one loved about his last show was there. But it was just so much more decadent?
The palette, the embroidery, the motifs, there was boho echoing his 2006-7 collections, there was shimmer like never before, and finally the much commented about new “bling”,gave his outfits the glam courtesy an interesting ombre treatment reminiscent of the great couturiers Elie Saab and Karl Largerfeld.
Shivers ran down my spine as the final look closed the show.
It was really a day dream.
A room filled with die hard Sabyasachi fans felt vindicated. This is why we support him. This is why he is the most successful designer in India.
His design intuition is unparalleled.This is the new standard of couture in India.
I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. I’ve certainly done enough.