It has been a bumper year for some of fashion’s biggest and most interesting players — from star-studded collaborations to breakneck expansion and serendipitous discoveries. Meet the candidates who made 2017 well and truly their own.
The collaborator: Sabyasachi Mukherjee
Kick-starting a diamond jewellery business with Forevermark, launching his own in-store precious jewellery line, collaborating with Christian Louboutin on a global footwear range, being celebrated at Hong Kong’s iconic fashion store Lane Crawford, and continuing existing partnerships with Asian Paints and Band Baajaa Bride made 2017 Sabyasachi Mukherjee’s year in no uncertain terms. “It’s been a whirlwind, and it just doesn’t seem to end,” he admits. Out of the above, the two key developments that have taken up most of Mukherjee’s time have been the explosive new line of shoes designed by Louboutin, using signature Sabyasachi textiles and embroideries, and the launch of the designer’s fine jewellery line, Sabyasachi Jewelry. “June onwards, I spent three months holed up in Jaipur and Bikaner, developing designs,” says the couturier. And since October, he has been busy travelling the world with his friend and collaborator Christian Louboutin. “We were at Harrods in London, Bergdorf Goodman in New York, at the Louboutin store in Los Angeles, at Lane Crawford in Hong Kong, where I clubbed it with another event, and then back to LA to do an event at Just One Eye, the city’s most directional fashion store where top Hollywood stylists and stars come to shop…” he adds.
As with anything Sabyasachi, these aren’t one-off projects that fizzle out after a few weeks of trending on social media. His collaboration with Louboutin came about after two years of working closely with the shoemaker on the footwear for his couture shows. “Christian spent time with us in Kolkata earlier this year, and visited my fabric archives and asked if he could use some of them to design shoes. That’s how it began. The designs are his, and the fabrics are mine.” As for jewellery, it was almost expected. His first jewellery collaboration happened in 2010 with Kolkata-based Gaja Jewellers, followed by Hyderabad’s Kishandas Jewellers in 2014. These projects, he says, taught him all there was to know about the jewellery business; if anything, Mukherjee is a quick study. And through his groundbreaking collection launches on Instagram (a first for an Indian designer), he single-handedly made the nath, choker and matha-patti trend on social media. “Today, most designers are using them in their couture and bridal shoots,” he jokes. But it’s true. Recent bridal campaigns follow what has come to be known as the Sabyasachi template: opulent locations and backdrops with multiple male and female models arranged in a group, all dressed in bridal couture with statement jewellery — invariably the nath, matha-patti, and a bold choker set with uncut stones.
Apart from this, the two major international events that have kept him busy are the Lane Crawford promotion and the one at Just One Eye. In Hong Kong, this was the first time that Lane Crawford — a fashion and retail institution that was founded in 1850 — showcased an Indian designer. What’s more, they sold out a major chunk of his collection, amounting to over US$1 million (₹6.46 crore), in just five days. Following this, the Just One Eye promotion saw him displayed next to Oscar favourite brands like Valentino, Prada, Alexandre Vauthier and Gucci. “Such events have given me a lot of confidence about our place in the international market,” he says, and feels that “the universe is conspiring to nudge me in the direction of an international label.” While that is an outcome greatly to be desired, more concrete is the news of a new global collaboration that, he says, will be announced in January.
The style icon: Deepika Padukone
Deepika Padukone kicked off 2017 with her Hollywood debut, xXx: Return Of Xander Cage and a slew of killer outfits from designers like Stella McCartney and Naeem Khan, which declared that she was ready for global fashion domination. The latter half of the year saw her transition into Indian princess mode aided by her favourite labels Anamika Khanna and Sabyasachi for the promotion of her now-controversial film Padmavati. About her ever-evolving personal style, Padukone says, “You will see a lot of pastels, and blue, beige, cream, and black and white [in my wardrobe]. And if you notice, even when there is colour, it will be a very classic red or green, or yellow.”