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Fashion
March 13, 2019

Ahead Of The Curve: Designer Suket Dhir On His Debut At Lotus Makeup India Fashion Week

Text by Rushmika Banerjee

In a freewheeling chat with Verve, the designer talks about his womenswear line, his perseverance to create high-quality clothes and how his wife influenced him to design for women by borrowing from the label’s menswear classics

I catch up with designer Suket Dhir a day before his show, 21 hours before to be precise. He is all ready to debut at India Fashion Week in less than 24 hours, tensions are high, he is running around trying to figure what kind of vinyl would be suitable for the ramp and his team is working on last-minute revisions. “I was editing my collection right now. This is an organic process – pulling up the stronger looks and eliminating the weaker ones,” explains the Delhi-based designer. With so many things happening in the background, you’d expect a person to be preoccupied with his thoughts, maybe even edgy or irritated after a long day. In my head, I am already thinking of editing out a few questions to keep our conversation as brief as possible. Dhir, however, clears out my dilemma by assuring me that I can ask as many questions as I want and he will be answering them in detail as “he will be talking about something that he loves.” His minimalist creations can only be attributed to this unrelenting love and passion for his work, which in turn leads him to innovate season after season and not let his designs be drowned in monotony. “My mind is constantly working. I haven’t slept the whole of last week. Now I am tired of working on this collection. I am already thinking about our next line.”

Dhir, who started his label in 2009 focusing on menswear, will showcase his womenswear collection titled Play at Lotus Makeup India Fashion Week AW’19 for the first time. This is a continuation of his line He For She, which he launched in November last year. “My wife (Svetlana Dhir) has been stealing clothes from my wardrobe for the last seven years. That was the initial concept when we launched the womenswear edition of our brand,” recalls Dhir. The collection on the ramp has two distinct lines – one for men and the other for women. “We have introduced jamdanis as a menswear product in this collection. The fabric is usually associated with scarves, stoles and saris. I visited my weaver’s home in Kalna village, West Bengal last year, where all my cotton jamdanis are woven. I stayed there and designed my collection.” The designer has also worked on light and airy mulmul blazers. “It looks like a shirt and is something that you can throw on top of a T-shirt during the summer season. These lightweight bomber jackets and mulmul blazers are for both men and women.” For the womenswear line, Dhir has used washed brocades to make jackets. Washing brocades dulls the sheen on the fabric and it becomes more wearable.  “They are not like trophy pieces that you can wear only once. Since women are wary of repeating their clothes, my idea was to make clothes that you can wear every day. So, these jackets and bombers that we have made are iconic essentials. It’s long-lasting, something that your friends talk about and you can keep it in your wardrobe for years to come,” says Dhir. Along with daily wear brocade separates, there are printed silk and velvet track suits, printed linen suits and damask silk printed jackets.

During the conversation, Dhir keeps referring to this collection as effortlessly sexy, a word that people rarely use to describe his clothes. Words like slow luxury, impeccable tailoring and refined craftsmanship are synonymous to the label. I ask Dhir about his perception of the word sexy.  “For me the definition of sexy is the quintessential, old-school, Yves Saint Laurent kind of sexy. I feel that menswear when worn by women looks super-hot. It’s like blazers worn without shirts underneath. There are a lot of deep V-necks, micro shorts, printed silk shirts, which are also supposed to be worn with half the buttons open. It has very chilled-out, sensual vibe to it.” Innovation is also ingrained into the brand’s DNA, which explains his approach towards ornamentation in this collection.  “I have contemporised the motifs in jamdani – working with geometrical motifs in multiple colours instead of the typical phool-patti. Some of the motifs – mango, mango tree, umbrella, raindrop, cloud, parrot – have become the brand’s signature today. These are the things that I think about very pleasantly from my childhood days and they bring a smile to my face.”

Quality has always been at the forefront of label Suketdhir and Dhir believes that a beautiful product has a market everywhere. “I have a lot of confidence in our product now. I am also delving into newer products. Before starting my label I used to work with knits which we are slowly introducing into the label. I have a few ganjishere and there in this collection. I didn’t design them and they are just basic essentials. I want to take this forward and start designing my own knitwear line. I’m starting with cashmere knits this winter.”

At this point I decide to ask the last question, something that has been playing on everybody’s mind – has he done any special preparation for the label’s fashion week debut. “This show has come at the right time. My brand is a sum of spontaneous decisions that we have taken till now and this show was also very last minute. I am glad that the clothes looked so beautiful during fittings. The look is new and global but it has a huge scope of improvement. I am doing something that I am really good at and I am also providing solutions for a woman’s wardrobe. I can’t stop exploring now. We have also done a massive campaign with a mix of photography and digital art, which we will release right after the show.” And is he tensed about the show today? “I am quite unfazed with this idea of a ramp debut as I have already gotten my feedback from the customers. I have just taken on the pressure of making beautiful clothes,” concludes Dhir.

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