In person, Suneet Varma is the very epitome of restraint, polite to a fault and without any ostentatious displays of ego or self-aggrandizement that often plague the fashion industry. On the ramp, however, a whole other personality emerges. Fascinators take on gargantuan proportions, ruffles envelope the torso and Swarovski crystals find their way into the most intricate of embroideries.
This penchant for opulence was on full display at the designer’s 30th anniversary fashion show in Delhi, a tribute to the creative chaos that simmers beneath the surface of the designer’s otherwise zen facade. Varma presided over every element of the show — from the couture garments that had undergone multiple fittings to ensure that every petal of every hand-crafted flower sat in the right place, to the accessories (including a crown bought in a flea market in Florence) and the decor. “I abhor mediocrity,” he says when we chat after the show. “And I know exactly how everything should look because I’ve lived with this vision every day for six months.”
Illustrating his penchant for perfection, Varma has a funny anecdote about the elaborate headgear. “We had a tree as part of the set design, which the models were supposed to walk around. But the branches were too low, and I was afraid it would interfere with the looks,” he recalls. “So I made the models rehearse with the headgear on. If something came too close to a branch, we broke the branch. Honestly, if anything had to go wrong after that much planning, I would be in therapy for the rest of my life.”
Inside Suneet Varma’s opulent fashion show