Sabyasachi: Barefoot in Red Soles

Sabyasachi: Barefoot in Red Soles

Beauty and brilliance sum up Sabyasachi Mukherjee’s 20 Years show. But it was also a salute to pret and the dynamism of fashion

When an awe-inspiring medley of visual and material references surrounds you, strung to music, meaning and design éclat, mental reflexes set to work. Segregation, sifting, focus, locating hidden and visible cues—it’s a flurry. “ Kashgaar Bazaar in Retrospect” designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee’s show in Mumbai on April 6 to mark twenty years of his work provoked that kind of sensory response.

In a show billed as a collaboration with star French shoemaker Christian Louboutin, Sabyasachi’s co-creator of footwear and handbags, a couple of looks with barefoot female models in zingy short kaftans were, for me, a strong, vivid statement.

Given the number of objects placed in the sets that Sabyasachi mounts for his shows, the way he stacks idea upon idea, accessory over accessory, cloth upon design, mind with matter, sexiness with sensuality, creating thus a wild muchness and a nothing-left-to-hide imagery, his work, on the contrary, can be deceptively hard to decode. You see so much out there—in this show there was a giant clock, a large cup and saucer with a floral design placed on a book created as an artistic installation, clothes and jewellery that fused time zones, eras, cultures, continents, skills, styles, body types, textures, tribes, territories…what more could you read? That’s why, it is imperative to ask, what is it that we could be missing in this blaze of cues?


Sabyasachi Mukherjee and Christian Louboutin.

Glimpse of the show.

So said the designer…

Consider now edited excerpts from the press release sent by Sabyasachi’s team: “My graduation collection (he passed from the National Institute of Fashion Technology, Calcutta) was called Kashgaar Bazaar- inspired by global nomads, gypsies, prostitutes, performing artists and my imagination of the Silk Route. In 2019, I present Kashgaar Bazaar to my global audience. In retrospect. Drawing inspiration from my first collection, this explores the conflict between cultures, colours, textiles and crafts. Under the overarching theme of rustic baroque, it is a patchwork of textile influences from the Silk Route…”

This note lists the collection’s fashion, fabric and technique details by naming “resort and glamping, acid-burnt textiles, mirror-work, phulkari, zardozi, and inspirational motifs from Central Asian carpets.” It adds that it was organically brought together with beads, sequins, tinsel and silk thread.

Now that we have a fair idea of what went on (who am I kidding anyway, all photos and descriptions have been out there on Instagram), and applauded the stunning photos of India’s six top models from the early 2000s—Noyonika Chatterjee, Sapna Kumar, Carol Gracias, Indrani Mukherjee, Bhawna Sharma and Sheetal Malhar who walked then and now for Sabyasachi—let’s take a stab at how this refreshes the Sabyasachi brand.