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Since its birth on the catwalk ten years ago, 'Varun Bahl' is inextricably tied to surface ornamentation and a fusion of textures on clean silhouettes. With excitement building up counting the days to his show, I spoke to the designer on the eve of India Couture Week.


How do you create strikingly different theatrical collections each year? What is your thought process? 
Each collection I design is a continuation of my ongoing love affair with culture. I absorb so much on my travels across the world and take my inspiration from many sources. This fuels my creativity. And I am lucky to be a designer in India where we have a wealth of amazon crafts available to us. These help me achieve and translate my vision through design and fashion.


Do you have a particular memory that stands out?
Designing each piece is an experience in itself. The process of making a couture garment is extremely intricate and requires patience especially when you are trying to achieve perfect balance in each ensemble. About five years ago i made a collection where I married Indian clothes with Japanese clothes! That till date remains my most cherished creative exercise.



When you are requested to design the most important dress of a woman's life—be it bridal or debutante evening gown—the client-couturier relationship is special. How integral is it to the framework and final creation?
It is paramount. There is nothing more important for the designer to have a complete and clear understanding of the girl or woman he or she is designing for especially if it happens to be a personal order. I try and spend time with the client to understand her tastes and likes and dislikes.. her lifestyle, and her quirks.. her joys and how she moves.. her favorite colours and fabrics. And then I translate her dream through a practical application of my knowledge and experience as a designer.


You're known for devotion to intricate technique. But do you feel technique is dying out in this generation?
No! You would be surprised by the number of young designers who are in fact reviving India's beautiful techniques and crafts and taking them into the future. Till very recently Indian designers only wished to emulate the West but of late there has been a resurgence of 'India' among Indian designers because they have realized that our strength lies in what we have perfected over centuries and generations. Our embroideries and textiles.. dyeing techniques and prints are our greatest USPs.


What are your key influences? Is it the culmination of your own life experiences and travels?
As I said earlier, daily life inspires me. That said my part-Kashmiri background adds to my liking of anything that's well-made and delicate and intricate. Beautifully-embroidered shawls and 2000-knots-per-square-inch carpets.. antique jewellery and furniture and Renaissance paintings.. all these become my visual reference points.


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