You mentioned you are always trying to bring normalcy in fashion through your clothes which you don’t see a lot. Why do you think you need this normalcy? This struck me in NID. We are always in this struggle to go back to the past, go back to the roots, go back to being “normal” and ordinary and rooted. We live in these plush houses and we end up going to resorts to walk barefoot. What I am trying to stress upon each and every season is just because one is making clothes that cost a hell lot of money they don’t have to be made of chiffon and look expensive. As a brand we get queries from stores and personal clients abroad, appreciating our brand and what we do; but frankly we have not always been able to “click” with the audience here in India. Sometimes I do have a dilemma as to whether I wish to be niche or whether I wish to be niche-but-still-reach-out to a wider group. We retail at select 12 boutiques across the country, but at times I have been asked to make slightly more “ornate and rich looking” clothes by our buyers just because sometimes our clothes end up looking “normal” and not “value-for-money.” But hey, if I were to tell you the Dhakai Jamdani handloom cotton fabrics that we used in one of our past collections cost us Rs 875/metre just because each motif was hand-woven painstakingly, would you believe me? (while silk costs Rs 350/metre)
Fashion doesn’t have to be glamorous all the time. I can’t seem to understand what it is with fashion that is always about the “glam” and the short and the tight! Why do fashion magazines need to have girls in pouty lips posing for you. Why can’t we shoot in villages and document the beautiful landscapes or their karigari, something like what Steve McCurry did in that Desert Storm image with the women huddled up in a group. It blows my mind. (Taking a drift…it is bizarre that it is always the westerners that capture the real essence of things, in this case, India, and portray it so very beautifully.)
What are you looking forward to?
Showing at Wills. I feel LFW is losing its essence. It’s too glamorous for me. And I really wish there were more critics. I don’t want to know who show stopped for who or who showed up at which after-party in what clothes & media running behind actors. It’s good if it works for others but I don’t like it. I hope Wills doesn’t have all that. I don’t want to know who is sitting in my front row as long as there are the right kind of people.
Who are the right kind of people?
Somebody who understands what is going on with the clothes. Someone who can appreciate your work and give constructive criticism and is not just there to talk about front row, runway celebrities, and after parties.
Best thing about what you do.
It is a high to create things out of scratch. And at the end of each collection, once I see the girls walking down the ramp (no matter how modest I am usually), I feel this great sense of achievement. That, hey-you-know-what the clothes you just saw on the ramp, whether you liked them or not, were made from scratch by our weavers and our karigars and our printers and dyers; and yes, I am the designer behind it.
Excerpts from an old talk I had with Paromita Banerjee at LFW about a year ago. Runway photos from her old shows at LFW and recent AW 13 show at WIFW. Outdoor: Carol Humtsoe in Paromita Banerjee AW 13, photographed during WIFW at Pragati Maidan in Delhi.