Sabyasachi Mukherjee (born 1974) is an Indian fashion designer from Kolkata. Since 1999, he has sold designer merchandise using the label 'Sabyasachi'. Mukherjee is one of the Associate Designer Members of Fashion Design Council of India and the youngest board member of the National Museum of Indian Cinema. He has designed costumes for Bollywood films such as Guzaarish, Babul, Laaga Chunari Mein Daag, Raavan, English Vinglish etc.
Sabyasachi Mukherjee comes from a middle class Bengali family of Kolkata. His mother, Sandhya Mukherjee worked at Government Art College, and was deeply into handicrafts. His father, Shukumar Mukherjee lost his job when Sabyasachi was just 15 yrs. Sabyasachi's sister Shingini Mukherjee (Payal), who is 7 years younger to him, manages the business of the label.
Mukherjee wanted to study at NIFT. But, his parents wanted him to become an engineer, as they couldn't understand how a course in designing clothes can help him in future career, and hence they refused to fund his admission into NIFT. Sabyasachi sold his books to pay for the admission form and passed the exam. After his graduation, he opened a workshop, and started his career from there.
Mukherjee, whose pet name is Pepsi, initially intended to take medicines as a profession, and remarked in an interview that he doesn't consider himself a designer and that he just makes pretty clothes.
Mukherjee also aspires to be a foodÂ writer and to conduct a food show. He likes places with a rich food culture such as Spain, Tuscany, Mexico, Greece, South of France, southern Italy.
Sabyasachi's design philosophy is 'Personalized imperfection of the human hand'. Deserts, gypsies, prostitutes, antique textiles and cultural traditions of his home town, Kolkata, have been a lifelong inspiration for this designer who believes that âclothes should just be an extension of one's intellectâ. He uses unusual fabrics, texturing and detailing, 'fusion' of styles, 'patch-work' with embellishments in a vibrant colors. His creations evoke images of ancient and medieval ages. He describes his own collections as 'an International styling with an Indian soulâ. In the designs, he tries to maintain a non commercial balance in an extremely aggressive, commercial and competitive industry. His collection is for people who prefer to walk a path less traveled and who definitely believe that slowing down is not equivalent to dropping out.
His signature style is originality, as he moves between stunningly crafted bridal wear and perfectly structured western statements. The designer draws his inspiration from art such as the colourscapes of French impressionists like Monet and Henry Matisse in his clothes.
He pioneered the use of Indian textiles in a modern context. His unique contribution was the use of indigenous methods like bandhani, gotawork, block printing, hand dyeing etc. in construction of modern silhouettes.
Life and career
Summer of 1999, Sabyasachi Mukerjee graduated from the National Institute of Fashion Technology India with three major awards. Four months later, Sabyasachi started his homonymous label which began with a workforce of three persons. Over the years, he has built a clothing brand which has a strong social perspective.
In 2001, Sabyasachi won the Femina British Councilâs most outstanding young Designer of India award, which took him to London for an internship with Georgina von Etzdorf, an eclectic designer based in Salisbury. Returning home with edgier ideas, Sabyasachi started retailing at all major stores in India.
2002, Sabyasachi participated at the India Fashion Week where his debut collection earned him positive reviews from the national and international press. On a cover by Women's Wear Daily, he was reckoned as the future of Indian fashion. Spring of 2003, Sabyasachi made his debut on the international runway, with the âgrand winner awardâ at the Mercedes Benz New Asia Fashion week in Singapore, which paved his way to a workshop in Paris by Jean Paul Gaultier and Azzedine Alaia. His collection "Kora" at the Lakme Fashion Week 2003 won him laudatory reviews where he used unbleached and hand woven fabrics with Kantha and other hand embroideries. He was declared the best Designer of India at the MTV Lycra style awards and won the âSocietyâ Achievers award for the best new Indian designer.
In 2004, Sabyasachi took a step ahead with Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week and The Miami Fashion Week with a bohemian take on Indian textiles and his collection was called "The Frog Princess". His significant achievements included his coveted showing in Browns earning him a retail place at the tiny London store voted by Vogue as the best shopping destination in the world, thereby establishing himself as one of the most promising young designers for years to come.
He earned the distinction of being the only Indian designer to be invited to showcase at the Milan Fashion Week 2004 facilitated by Indo-Italian Chamber Of Commerce. Along with accolades, he was also voted by Asia Inc. a Singapore based Business magazine as one of the ten most influential Indians in Asia, alongside Aishwariya Rai, Priyanka Gandhi, Sabeer Bhatiaâ¦etc.
In 2005, his spring-summer collection, "The Nair Sisters" was inspired by hand block printing, embroideries, bagru prints and the extensive use of cotton and other hand woven fabrics. The collection was sold at Browns & Selfridges in London. He was requested to showcase his collections at the prestigious Oxford University annual black tie charity dinner fashion show.
2006, Sabyasachiâs debut Spring Summer collectionâ07 at New York Fashion Week earned him critical acclaim and his label started selling world-wide. The essence of this collection was based on folklore, glamour, simplicity, modern architecture and intricate detailing. There was a marked influence of paintings from the seventeenth and eighteenth century like Brueghel, Claude Monet and others. He used dark jeweled colors with muted shades accentuated with subtle texturing and indigenous embroidery. He is the only Indian designer to be a part of all three leading fashion weeks: New York, Milan and London. Sabyasachi believes that the unique positioning of Indian designers is due to the exclusivity of his homeland with its rich history and culture. He believes that Indian designers bring a flavor to the west that is no longer perceived as only exotic but also a rich blend of individuality and sensitivity.
2007, Sabyasachi participated at the New York and at the London Fashion Weeks plus Bridal Asia 2007, Lakme India Fashion Week and the Vogue Launch event in India. His âSanctuaryâ collection showcased at Lakme Fashion Week Fall Winter 08 received positive reviews from the fashion editor of the New York Times, Suzy Menkes.
The designer made his debut to the Cannes Film Festival in the year 2011.
Sabyasachi closed the third edition of PCJ Delhi Couture Week (August 8â"12, 2012) with his New Moon collection inspired by the flavours of five cities of the world- straitjacket discipline of New York, the nostalgia of the British Raj in Kolkata, the subversive decadence of Berlin, the romanticism of Paris and bohemian flair of Barcelona. Bollywood star Sridevi was the showstopper & walked the ramp for the designer in a sari. The designer is showcasing this collection in UAE as well.
Recently, the designer styled a calendar for which Bollywood actress Neha Dhupia dressed up as famous painter Frida Kahlo. whose has been the designer's inspiration for the Grand Finale at WIFW Autumn-Winter 2011 where the models walked the ramp wearing Frida Kahlo-esque rose headbands and wire-rimmed glasses.
Mukherjee started a project called SAVE THE SAREE where he retails hand-woven Indian sarees on a non-profit basis priced at 3500 & the entire proceed goes to the weavers of Murshidabad. This initiative is also strongly supported by Bollywood divas like Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Vidya Balan.
He has been developing textiles from Dastkarin-Andhra Pradesh, Berozghar Mahili Samitiin-Bihar, Tantubay Samiti-Fulia and Kotpadin-Orissa. The designer uses rich ethnic fabrics in his collection - extensive use of Banarasi fabric can be seen in his range. Over the past two years he has also been involved in reviving cotton Benarasi sarees in pure khadi and vegetable hand block prints from Bagru.
He is one of the designers who,by his skillful use of Indian fabric Khadi brought it in the International platform. Sotheby's London hosted an exhibition of contemporary design named 'Inspired by India' where the designer showcased his work of khadi. Sabyasachi's collection of Winter-Festive Lakme Fashion Week 2011 revived the finer version of Khadi.
Sabyasachi & Bollywood
The designer forayed into films by designing costumes for Sanjay Leela Bhansali's landmark film: "Black" which earned him critical acclaim along with the National Award in 2005 for the best costume designer for a feature film. Since then, he has designed for other Bollywood movies such as âBabulâ and âLaaga Chunari Mein Daagâ, âRaavanâ, âGuzaarishâ,"Paa",âNo One Killed Jessicaâ and âEnglish Vinglishâ.
In 2012, Sabyasachi appeared on NDTV Goodtimes' show Band Baja Bride.
The entire trousseau collection of around 18 hand-crafted sarees for Bollywood diva Vidya Balan's wedding was designed by Sabyasachi for which he specially sourced the silk from Chennai. Vidya Balan also wore seven of his outfits for her public appearances whilst serving on the competition jury panel at Cannes 2013.
Sabyasachiâs celebrity clientele also includes Rani Mukerji, Sridevi, Tabu, Shabana Azmi, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Sushmita Sen and Kareena Kapoor to name a few.
Amongst international actresses, Rene Zelleweger, Reese Witherspoon & others have sported his label.
Sabyasachi, in 2008 launched a line of jewelry exclusively designed by him in association with the GAJA brand.
He launched his exclusive menswear collection featuring Sherwanis, Kurtas and headgear at the Lakme Fashion Week Spring Summer 09 Grand Finale show.
The Designer has also started the kids wear line under the label CHOTA SABHYA.âI felt the need to do something for children, using Indian techniques and handlooms, to make children sensitive towards our clothing,â said Sabyasachi
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- Official website
- profile at Fashion Design Council of India
- video conversation between UK designer Paul Smith and Sabyasachi; starts at 5:12