Rohit Bal, who wears his heart on his sleeves, has created nothing but only grandeur and beauty in his career spanning almost three decades. Known for playing with rich fabrics like velvet and brocade and elaborate designs, his couture collections have an extensive use of lotus and peacock motifs.
The ace designer was in the city recently to give us a peek into his autumn/ winter preview prêt collection ‘Balance’ at a swanky and upbeat store located at Phoenix Marketcity, Viman Nagar. For ‘Balance’, he has put together each item carefully keeping in mind Pune’s young and vibrant population.
You’ll be amazed to see how the collection weaves together the elements of understated fashion, which transforms the signature Rohit Bal couture to everyday couture. The subtle nuances of the collection highlight the intricacies of zardosi, Aari and block prints on an array of organic fabrics like muslin, chanderi, velvet and linen.
Says Rohit, “The autumn/ winter collection here is a ready-to-wear collection. It is much better priced and affordable. This is a very toned down version of what we usually do — it is not our quintessential bridal collection. I think when you introduce a collection in a new city, especially in a very cosmopolitan city like Pune, you need to introduce a collection which is more trendy and not bridal. So there’s something for everyone.”
Lotus and peacock
The designer, who revels in his ‘bad boy of the fashion industry’ reputation, has a deep philosophy behind his designs. Talking about his lotus and peacock motifs in his creations, he says, “The inspiration comes from the fact that they are in my genetic structure. I belong to Kashmir and have grown up seeing lotus and hence it has become an integral part of my sensibility and design philosophy. I feel the flower stands for humility — it grows amidst a lot of dirt and filth but grows out of its way to become spectacular. Those not so privileged should seek inspiration from it. It’s important for me on a spiritual and sensitive level,” he explains.
As far as the peacock is concerned, the designer reveals that he is obsessed with its beauty and feels helpless in its presence. “I feel that the peacock is the epitome and symbol of absolute beauty. Besides it also the national bird of India, so it is natural that somebody like me would use the peacock,” he adds.
Journey so far
Ask him about his journey so far and he quickly exclaims, “The journey has been quite magical! It has been like a fantasy and I treat my life that way. I don’t take life very seriously nor do I take fashion very seriously. I think when you love something so intensely — the way I love fashion — it becomes a part of you very organically and effortlessly.”
Commenting on the changing scenario of the fashion industry, he says, “The changes have been immense ever since I started to now. When I started, fashion was really a feeling and emotion and a very personal expression of what you believed in. But today fashion has become a ruthless industry and a cutthroat business and I am not very happy about it. That said, one has to keep evolving and that’s what I suppose fashion as a business is all about. We have to sort of accept this part of the industry too.”
But does he ever compromise on creativity for commerce? “Absolutely not! If I had done that I would be much more successful commercially. I do not do fashion for any commercial sake. I do fashion as an art form. I would much rather die without lots of money than no creativity,” he says.
Staying away from Bollywood
The designer whose creations have been graced by the who’s who of Bollywood has stayed way from designing clothes for films. So what keeps him away from being a costume designer? Rohit answers, “I find it a bit stressful doing costumes for Bollywood. It is not something I am very comfortable with. I don’t think I can cope with the timeline or stress level of Bollywood. As the process of filmmaking is very taxing, I do not want that to be a part of my life. I dress up most of the film stars and I love doing that because they are all achievers. I am doing what I want to do, but as far as doing costume for a complete film is concerned I shy away from.”
The designer has often expressed his desire to make a film and only then design costumes. Ask him when can we see him wearing the hat of a filmmaker and he replies, “I have been saying this for a long time but I have realised that it is not very easy to do. There are many other aspects to filmmaking which I am not familiar or equipped with. If I have to do a film, it has to be under the guidance of somebody like Sanjay Leela Bhansali or Karan Johar.”
For the survival of HANDLOOM
“We, as designers, have an incredible responsibility to keep our own crafts alive. Handloom is much bigger than the collections of a handful of designers and it needs to be adopted nationwide and must become the pride of the entire country,” says Rohit.
Talking about how handloom needs to become a household name “such as items like Lifebuoy, dal, chawal,” he says, “It has to become a necessity and equivalent to the staple diet for the population of India and that’s the only way, handloom is going to survive otherwise it will not.”