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VARUN BAHL ON THE EVOLVING FACE OF INDIAN COUTURE

Since its inception the label Varun Bahl is inextricably tied to its signature surface ornamentation and a fusion of textures on simple clean silhouettes. We spoke to the designer on the eve of PCJ Delhi Couture Week on the genesis of Indian couture. In conversation with him.

When some design haute couture their imagination tends to runs wild. When others design they think of sales. What is your thought process?

I always aim to achieve a balance. You have to have someone in mind who will wear your clothes. Fashion, at the end of the day, is a business that feeds families as well as a practical art form that provides a style solution.

Your shows narrate a strong well-defined story. Tell us about the design process. Do you visualize theatrical performance before creating couture?

I begin mostly with the techniques I want to highlight for a particular season. Our embroideries are our strong point. Then comes my other love — pattern-making. I bring these two together. Our color combinations are also unique and timeless and that gets added to the mix. My style of working around a collection is a bit like 'method-in-the-madness' and that's how I always function at my creative best. As any designer will tell you.. what you conceptualize in your head and what you sketch and what eventually gets made are all very different!! I try to play around with what happens between these processes.

How do you find the couture landscape has changed since the past five years?

I believe Indian couture has a long way to go but only if we compare it to the idea of French couture. By itself, couture in India is a mature industry fed not only by designers but by skilled craftsmen and artisans from across the country. Over the past five years, the changes that we have seen in the couture landscape have been what we would — in the larger scheme of things — call 'visual'. For example, the average Indian consumer of couture and bridal wear has become more experimental in terms of color as well as cuts... newer fabrics are accepted... and lehengas are no longer sold by the weight. However — returning to the larger picture — couture is still dominated by the occasion-wear market and I feel it will continue to be for some time.

Who is your muse?

An assured woman. A woman of taste and fine-tuned sensibilities who is looking for something out of the ordinary.

What are your expectations from PCJ Delhi Couture Week?

To showcase new ideas vis-à-vis the notion of couture in India as it stands right now. I want to show couture that doesn't require the backdrop of a wedding or a major festival to justify being worn. I want to propose haute couture designs that the modern Indian woman would want to wear to a day at work. And for those ideas to be understood for what they represent — the next step in Indian haute couture — not bound by tradition but celebrating it every day!!

Please share a preview on your collection for PCJ Delhi Couture Week.

This season is a coming together of my love for French color sensibilities and traditional Indian cuts.. and the needs of the contemporary Indian woman who has been falsely and repeatedly told that couture in India means bridal dressing. We are playing around with the sari to redefine it to suit modern requirements so the Aperitif Sari-Gown — something dressy but not necessarily black-tie — has emerged. It's very dear to me. The Anarkali has also gotten a modern makeover through contemporary fabrics and Western cuts.

 

CLICK HERE FOR AN INTERVIEW WITH ANAMIKA KHANNA

CLICK HERE FOR AN INTERVIEW WITH GAURAV GUPTA
 

Varun Bahl
 
A Classic Varun Bahl Collection
 
18-JULY-2013
 
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