Designs with an edge
Fashion designer Gaurav Gupta strives to experiment with his creations even after a decade in the industry
Known for adding a grungy element to Indian couture, Gaurav Gupta, winner of several awards and this season’s Grand Finale designer at the Lakme Fashion Week, is one of the youngest successful couturiers of India. Gaurav who started out on his fashion journey in 2005, has completed 10 years in the fashion industry.As he looks back at 20 seasons and as many collections, he is struck by memories — of initial struggle and heartwarming applause. “Even after all these years, I am still very ambitious,” says Gaurav while adding that there is no time to rest on past laurels. “How can I do that when I have so many plans for future.”
What do you count as your forte that has helped you earn success in this industry?My forte lies in introducing elements of fantasy, flight, and mythology to the traditional Indian wear and changing the landscape of Indian couture in a dramatic way. It feels good when celebrities sport my futuristic designs on the red carpet. Like Deepika Padukone wore my gown for the Filmfare Awards in 2015 when she won the best actress award or when Anushka Sharma won her first Filmfare award. For me, fashion is a science and I am very particular about the technique and composition of my garments. Also, throughout my journey, I have continued to be guided by the imagery of flight. This theme runs through my diverse creations, be it ready to wear, bridal or jewelry collections. Often the fashion press labels me as a fantasy designer, someone who brings magic realism to fashion.
How did you take to fashion? I grew up in a Delhi’s business family that dealt in steel, but I always knew that my calling was somehting else. I wanted to be involved in a field that required creativity. I was always doing things differently. Even as a teenager, I would add a leather patch to my T-shirt. After finishing my schooling, I went to the National Institute of Fashion Technology and then graduated from London’s Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. The collection that I designed in my graduation led to my working with Hussein Chalayan and was called the ‘Future of Couture.’ I moved back to India in November 2004 and started my own label in 2005. It was then I realised that in India sticking to western silhouttes won’t fetch me profits and traditional Indian was not my style. So I began adding a grungy, edgy, westernised elements to the traditional Indian costumes and it worked very well. Everyone who was fashion forward immediately took to it and so did the fashion press. And now as I complete 10 years in fashion industry, it is very satisfying to see how far I have come.
What do you consider your milestones in your 10 year journey as an Indian couturier?Closing the Lakme Fashion Week Winter/ Festive 2015 finale was definitely one. Also, I have two flagship stores in premier luxury locations. The first opened in 2009 in New Delhi’s Emporio Mall, and the second in Mumbai’s posh area, Kala Ghoda, which was unveiled in November 2014. I was completely involved in designing these stores around the concepts of flight, fantasy and movement, which is my signature style. In fact, my New Delhi store was nominated for the Inside World Architecture Awards as one of the best designed retail spaces. Lady Victoria Harvey wearing a gown from my Light-Fall collection to the Oscars in 2013 was another milestone. I have also created a line in collaboration with 7 For All Mankind, comprising embellished denim jackets and trousers with metallic chains and embroidery. With Swarovski, I partnered to produce a collection of couture and dramatic jewellry now stocked at their concept stores worldwide.
What fuels your creativity?
I love watching movies of Alfred Hitchcock, dancing through the night and doing yoga. It relaxes me. From my childhood, I have been creatively inspired by Magritte and the British designer Alexander McQueen. I have great respect for the late McQueen.
What more would you like to do in the fashion arena?I am still very ambitious. I want to turn my label into an international fashion house. So far no Indian designer has done that. I will continue to work in India and with Indian wear but I want to take my aesthetics to a global platform. Also I would love to dress more lovely ladies like Sridevi, Aishwarya, Nandita Das and Rekha, Kate Winslet. These are women who are style icons and have strong individualistic personalities. I would love to celebrate the person that they are and explore their Gaurav Gupta side.