Renowned couture designer Amit Aggarwal, who has drawn inspiration from the luxurious wedding destination, Monaco and India’s Varanasi for his LFW Winter/ Festive 17, talks about sustainable fashion, his collection and the revival of Banarasi sarees
Taking the couture story beyond borders, designer Amit Aggarwal showcased his collection titled Monaco from the Heart of Kashi at Lakme Fashion Week Winter/ Festive 2017 held in Mumbai from August 16-20. Taking inspiration from the breathtaking destination of Monaco, the designer draws similarities between the world’s second-smallest country on the French Riviera and Kashi (now Varanasi) in India in terms of art, culture and craftsmanship. The marriage of cultural identities allowed for a greater sense of exchange between two histories for a contemporary design ethos.
Aggarwal takes his philosophy of sustainable couture forward with vintage Banarasi brocade sarees this time. The vintage weaves have been restored using his signature techniques of industrial pleating and latticing with recycled polymer strips and have been further reworked with contemporary zardozi embroidery both with metal and fibre, exquisite hand pleated tape embroideries and detailed thread work mixed with unusual industrial yarns.
This exotic palette features amber, sapphire, ruby, jade and black diamond with inherent radiance of gold and silver. The designer, who believes in sustainable fashion more than trends, tells us more about his collection, the need to push creative boundaries and how designers are doing their bit for sustainable fashion:
How did the idea of fusing Monaco and Kashi occur to you? What similarities do you draw between the two places?
I’m taking our sustainable couture story further with this collection. I have continued to procure vintage sarees from all over India. This time, we are using brocades from Banaras for bridal couture.
The inspiration comes from my transit to Monaco, which has very similar connections to my home country in terms of art, culture and craftsmanship. The interior architecture of the Prince’s Palace of Monaco and the Opera De Monte Carlo, the motifs, carvings and drapery reminded me of the brocades from Banaras back in India and my treatment to those that I was already working on. It was this cross-culture blend that created a modern interpretation of a collection that is deeply rooted to our heritage.
Give us an insight into your collection — the use of colour, fabrics, cuts, embroideries, silhouettes, etc.
It is mainly the vintage brocade sarees which are combined and restored using other signature techniques. Contemporary bridal silhouettes, panelled skirts and structured jackets with zardozi embroidery and hand pleated tape embroideries dominate throughout the collection. The palette features amber, sapphire, ruby, jade and black diamond with highlights of gold and silver.
For this show, you had partnered with Monaco Tourism. How important is it for a designer to cross cultural borders?
When the essence of two distinct elements are collaborated, the outcome is truly unique. I am grateful for all my experiences from travel that have enriched me as a designer and prompted me to push the boundaries of my creativity. Associating with Monaco works great as it forms a perfect backdrop for this bridal collection since it is a stunning wedding destination.
You have extensively made use of recycled plastic, industrial material and innovative weaves for both your prêt line and couture line. When it comes to sustainable fashion where is Indian fashion industry headed?
We live in a world where product life cycle can be extended through responsible design ethics but sustainability is a process and has to be a part of you before you implement it to design. It is not something everyone believes in or prioritises, so it is hard to connect the dots but as an industry, I think we are playing our individual part towards the cause.
While Banarasi saree is a heritage in itself why do you think there is a need to revive it in a modern way?
I have kept the heritage of Banarasi sarees intact but over time these sarees have deteriorated and therefore inspired me to restore them to increase their lifetime.
You have also worked with ace designer Tarun Tahiliani. How has he influenced you as a designer and entrepreneur?
It is one really amazing feeling, it’s a true symbiosis between him and me, the exchange of knowledge, expertise and experience which he always has tonnes to share with me.