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Five style gurus have opened lush and ambient spaces for loyal devotees of their craft to move away from the sanitised domains of online shopping into fashion retail shops, where you come and shop as a family. Tarun Tahiliani at the Dubash house, Mumbai, Sabyasachi Mukherjee at a heritage building, Mumbai, Anita Dongre at the plush mall in Dubai, Abhinav Mishra at Chhatarpur Road, Delhi, while Manish Malhotra conquers Bandra with his new space!
What is it about India’s leading style guru that millennials can’t get enough of...is his quietness, away from the media frenzy, or statute business sense that has brought him from the narrow lanes of Kolkata to the swish and posh headquarters in Mumbai and New York? This is debatable, as, despite the sea of designers, Sabya seemed to even have a popular page dedicated to his name even on Instagram that calls out “fakes and frauds” in some ways immortalising him.
“For culture to be relevant it needs to be dynamic,” says Sabyasachi Mukherjee, as he celebrates handmade and Indian craftsmanship embarking on creating immersive retail spaces. “Crowded narrow lanes with balconies jutting out of beautiful old mansions and homes, jostling for space in North Calcutta. Rich in its nonchalance, between the clamour of grandeur and decay, it is almost spiritual, the neglect of luxury and the casual existence of glamour. It makes Calcutta unforgettable,” he adds.
Sabyasachi’s largest flagship spread over 25,862 sq ft is now open in Mumbai. The neo-classical building was completed in 1913 by Chambers & Fritchley and was originally built for the British Bank of The Middle East. The building is classified as a Grade II A heritage structure under the Heritage Regulations of Greater Bombay 1995.
Only a designer who exhibits this attention to detail can have 100 chandeliers, 275 carpets, 3,000 books and 150 works of art created by the Sabyasachi Foundation at the store. But this is not all, it is brimming with Tanjore paintings, Pichhwais, Nathdwara and Kota styles, vintage photography, Mughal miniatures, rare bronzes, 19th-century Company Paintings and rare lithographs.
The interesting cabinets are sourced from souks, 18th-century Venetian handcrafted chairs, rare French Art Nouveau cabinets and some imposing brass sculptures made in Calcutta. What does it take to create a luxurious mood when you come to his store? There are the preservative leather-bound books, Tang dynasty pottery, handwoven and crafted textiles from across India, though the mystery persists—as he has done more than to make this a museum, with the precious possessions, he has elevated the architecture with hidden lounges and dens complete with a tearoom hiding behind some seriously extravagant silk velvet drapes.
As you walk in you can smell fresh roses which add to the invisible charm of this shopping experience as the ground floor boasts of his best-selling bridal collection, the first floor to his fine jewellery and the second floor is dedicated to womenswear, menswear, as well as accessories. Would we call Sabyasachi a showman, who hit the jackpot, or a man who persevered, as luck played its part in catapulting him into stardom? The ball is up in the air on this one!
You will never spot Mumbai-based fashion guru Anita Dongre at any fashion soirees, awards or even the fashion weeks, now that we have multiple ones, each one jostling with the other to get the biggest names and the most expensive Bollywood celebrities to make a lasting impression. Yet till today she runs the most financially stable company and is expanding at an exponential rate, away from the spotlight focusing on achievement rather than validation. She makes her Middle East debut with a RTW store in Dubai Mall this June.
On the first floor of Dubai Mall, Anita like Sabyasachi is the second designer to open a store globally after New York in 2018. A torch bearer in the philosophy of Fashion For Good, she has been encouraging rural artisans to collaborate with her thus the store is replete with embroideries from the women of SEWA, handcrafted weaves from the North-east and hand-painted Pichhwai.
The store reflects Rajasthani ethos with greys highlighted with hints of gold, and hand-painted Pichhwai walls that celebrate the beauty of nature. The Dubai Mall will offer modern classics, modest fashion, co-ord sets and ready-to-wear dresses, to classic evening gowns, kaftans, and handcrafted silver jewellery. “Anita Dongre is for the contemporary, confident, and feminine woman, as our designs are classic, timeless pieces of art that are made to be versatile and to be kept in your closets forever. We are excited to bring our brand to Dubai, where there is a melting pot of communities that will most definitely find an ethereal design signifying luxury with a mix of inspiration from the region, yet keeps within the DNA of the brand,” she elucidated. House of Anita Dongre was founded in 1995, and offers from a bridal lehenga to a tailored sherwani, as well as an astutely cut jacket, for a discerning audience.
The man most loved by Bollywood celebs and industrialists, Manish Malhotra, opened the doors to his posh headquarters in Bandra, Mumbai. It is undoubtedly 40,000 square feet of pure luxury, with space for over 400 employees but channelling the spirit of sustainability. The Atelier has open, interactive, and enclosed brainstorming spaces, a collaborative cafeteria, a meeting lounge, as well as a versatile showroom space for photoshoots, trials, and make-up spaces.
Synonymous with the “India Modern” aesthetic, the label Tarun Tahiliani proudly announces its first menswear store in Mumbai, at the iconic Dubash House Ballard Estate and it has been designed by the Wharton graduate himself.
The ground floor boasts of couture, luxury pret, jewellery and accessories, the new menswear store three levels up, is a tribute to Indian lifestyles, tropical climate, and traditions. “Menswear has truly come of age in India and every day we are learning more and more about Indian men and what makes them comfortable as tastes and aesthetics evolve.” As always, the Tarun Tahiliani menswear label is dedicated to immaculate fits, beautifully cut garments, a certain manner of tailoring and handcrafted detailing. “These are garments constructed such that, they can be worn at a celebration anywhere in the world and yet pay homage to Indian heritage,” says the designer.
Square mandala, within a square, wooden panelling and a signature “Jali” courtyard, wooden floors and handmade Tarun Tahiliani carpets and a walkway around the central space with a monochromatic appeal comes armed with a wooden library within a living room. Wallpaper is on one entire façade with hand-embroidered insects and other exotica such as hand-cut black mother-of-pearl flowers, but what catches your attention is the antique Yali figure. Culturally it is meant to inspire fear and awe, and it is like the iconography of the hippogryphs and sphinxes of ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt.
The store represents masculine energy, somewhat of a guardian protecting human beings both physically and spiritually. It represents our age-old struggle with the elemental forces of nature.
Young but with a certain defined vision, Abhinav Mishra opened a sprawling new flagship store in Chattarpur, Delhi with a sprawling 1770 sq. ft. two storey space inspired by Mughal Architecture--- mirror work, grand arches, and regal pillars. The store pays homage to the tombs and grand palaces with the carvings inlaid in clay. It is executed in sustainable materials like natural stone, clay and wood filled with natural light.
Mughal architecture and the timeless beauty of Sheesh Mahal, the store feels like a palace of mirrors when the candles are lit and to add to this opulence are Venetian glasses and lamps aesthetically placed. The motifs on the wall are designed by Abhinav Mishra, tying together the designer’s artistic sensibilities, and rich cultural references. To match this is a minimal look with sunlight coming through long glass windows, surrounded by fresh tube roses and lilies.
The new flagship store features a bridal suite on the first floor where one can find Abhinav’s bridal pieces and menswear collections. It is also a space where the bride and groom’s families can draw inspiration for their own celebratory ensembles. The ground floor shelves the latest “Dilbar” and “Tara Sitara” collections along with festive wear and resort wear pieces that have added a whole new dimension to the label.
Keeping the feedback and discussions with his patrons in mind, Abhinav realised the need for a pleasant and calming space where a bride can feel comfortable and express herself freely. Abhinav says, “A confluence of the old and the new, this space is literally a second home to me that I have personally worked on from day 1. The idea was to create a calming space with natural sunlight, sprawling greens and soft tones with inspiration drawn from my travels and all the things I have loved since childhood.” Abhinav Mishra chose to open at Regency One, Chattarpur, in the capital as it also has a discerning clientele that admires his creations.
You may also like to read on Buildings that have revolutinsed the course of Modern architecture in India. and the influence of classical art on architecture . And if you are interested in pursuing a career in Fashion Design you must read Scope of fashion design in India.
Other articles by seasoned fashion writer Asmita Aggarwal that will interest you are Vaishali S – the Only Indian Courtier to Showcase at Paris Haute Couture Week, FDCI Lakme Fashion Week (LFW) 2022 Heading towards Sustainable Fashion and Back to the 80s Fashion.
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Asmita Aggarwal has been a journalist for the last 30 years having edited publications like– HT City, Cosmopolitan, L’Officiel, Patriot and Asian Age/Deccan Chronicle. She recently won an award from the FDCI for her contribution to fashion jo ...
urnalism and also put together a book titled “Chrysalis” for Anand and Anand, a law firm released by designer Manish Malhotra at the Jaipur Literature Festival.
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