Flight on Time


Gaurav Gupta: Flight on Time

Designer Gaurav Gupta’s new flagship store in Delhi displays a point of transition between pret and couture. You could take a fashion flight for either style.

Last fortnight when Gaurav Gupta threw a lavish party at DLF Emporio’s Atrium in Delhi to celebrate his new flagship store,mannequins wearing avant garde designs were seen rising like apparitions towards the ceiling. Asymmetrical silhouettes in dresses and tops,cigarette pants in silver-grey,charcoal or nude that you could wear to a party in space (or for a friend’s wedding anniversary) looked at you,distant yet confusingly near.

Gupta’s core life philosophy is ‘flight’. “All my dreams and nightmares since childhood have been about flights,” he admits. Usually dressed in black or grey quirky fashion himself — zips meandering across jackets and shirts,hidden pleats,a tuck here and a nip there — his one abiding accessory is a brooch or pendant with a bird in flight. If his pants have a mind of their own,the shoes look like they had been carved out of concrete. A piercing earring looking like a baby rhinoceros’ horn juts across one of his ears and his hairstyles would raise a hair artist’s eyebrows.

Business is not all grey though. Colour visits Gupta in the form of older Indian women as clients,wanting to shed years of conformist dressing through his structured,Grecian saris. If young girls want draped dresses in holy orange,watermelon red and silver,then an Austrian female client sends him a photograph wearing his sari gown,saying she has discovered a multi-cultural clothing identity.

Gupta’s flagship store that has been conceptualised by him is entirely hand-crafted. The walls and panels are made of a concrete cast,some racks are suspended from the ceiling,complimented by art-nouveau inspired lacquered iron racks. Furniture pieces are sculpted out of what he calls “mild steel” and quilted leather. Large mirrors play a hide-and-seek game. You can get lost on the pret side only to find yourself in the couture section.

But let’s descend to earth: there are dressy couture saris,edgy dresses and diva-like clothes. A sari taps you on the shoulder to tell you how to be yourself and yet look like Madonna. Gupta,who debuted in 2006 in India,and is now 33,agrees,“As a half-blonde student in the UK some years ago,I never envisioned I’d be treating traditional wear with a futuristic mind. One half of my customers are experimental,the other half are those who convert. Their conversion from one kind to another is one of the most valuable fashion experiences.”

If you do go to his departure terminal,make sure you book a hopping flight — look at everything in the store,even if you don’t buy his point of view.