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November 05, 2014

Living Fabulously – Sabyasachi Mukherjee

Text by Shirin Mehta

Verve enters the sumptuous universe of Sabyasachi Mukherjee who straddles his own creations with confidence and flair

  • Sabyasachi Mukherjee
  • Sabyasachi Mukherjee
  • Sabyasachi Mukherjee

Sabyasachi Mukherjee
Back to the soul

Sabyasachi Mukherjee’s newest flagship store located in Mumbai is an eye opener, by any standards. It invites the visitor into a fantasy world created by the designer, a world that allows you into the deepest recesses of his imagination and creativity. It is no longer enough that he creates collections which, rooted in the Indian sensibility seem to reach out to western boundaries. He seems to want to place these creations in a context that is entirely of his own making. One that reflects his self-proclaimed design philosophy: ‘the personalised imperfection of the human hand’.

Bridal collections, ready-to-wear as well as men’s wear are ensconced in a milieu that dares exploration. Housed in a heritage building, the store spreads over two levels. It is chock-a-block with collectibles that transport you into another era, but it is one that has been created by the designer who has laid his aesthete open. Chandeliers dominate, ittar bottles abound, walls disappear behind collections of hand-wound clocks, antique mirrors reflect high luxury and portraits transport you to the romance of another time. A well-chosen book, probably a classic, lies around waiting to be picked up. Come here on a shopping expedition or just sit and read and soak in Sabyasachi’s special world.

What is the mood that you wish to create with your very distinctive store interiors?
I like to make stores which have a very distinctive feature, which have an old world charm, romantic opulence, a sense of mystery and yet at the same time are intimate and cozy so that people do not feel intimidated. Of course I think the mood of the store enhances your collection because at the end of the day, how you retail, where you retail from also adds to the flavour of the shopping experience and you can tell a lot about the designer, his brand and his vision from the way he lays out his stores. People who come looking for beautiful spaces will enjoy the store; people who come to buy clothing will stay focused.

How is your design philosophy reflected in the stores?
I like things which are cultural, handmade, rich, classic and timeless. I think everything in the store reflects all of that and more.

Is the past a big inspiration? As seen also in your recent Couture presentations against cabins of trains of the past.
The past is not a big inspiration; it is just that in earlier times people used to do it much better than we do it now. Then they had the luxury of time and hence could create wonderful things. Today our lives are hectic and we are too time bound and that’s why we most often make things which look beautiful superficially but inside they are quite hollow.

If in present times we were making spectacular things I would have referenced from the present. The fact that a lot of people tell me that I like to glorify the past is true only because of the fact that we can take a lesson or two from what people did in the yore. Do you think the modern architects, with all their technology, money and with time at their disposal can ever replicate something like the Taj Mahal?

I have always had a fascination for trains and especially luxury trains because of their detailing; I think when you are leading a jet-set life and hopping in and out of airports all the time you miss the pace of slow and leisurely travel. It makes you feel nostalgic about things that you have left behind and that is what the couture collection wanted to celebrate. You have to understand that couture is luxury which is created with time in hand. It is synonymous to a dream journey from the past.

The antique clock, the perfume bottle, the chandelier – are these symbols or forms that appeal to your aesthete?
I like collecting curios so all of these definitely appeal to my aesthetics. I am someone who likes hunting for special things which might be totally irrelevant and almost indulgent to other people.

Your menswear collection breaks boundaries – why have you relinquished it to the back of the store?
Men are hunters and have a natural instinct to explore which is one of the reasons the menswear section is at the end so that they can explore and go right into their territory. I don’t consider men or women when I do the interiors of a place. I consider the mood and the sensibility which are neither masculine nor feminine. Both can enjoy it.

Or do you see the ladies shopping for their men?
I hate women shopping for men or men shopping for women. They are both individuals and should shop for themselves.

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