Sabyasachi Mukherjee has perfected the art of the stage spectacle. Whether the Kolkata couturier lines the runway with antique clocks and vintage portraits, or, in this case, crystal bedecked chandeliers and strings of lightbulbs, nothing ever casts a shadow on his creations or vision. So when show director Anu Ahuja says, hours before his Lakme Fashion Week (LFW) Winter/Festive 2013 showing, that she isn’t worried, you believe her. “You just have to put his clothes on the ramp. They do all the work,” she says.
At a serendipitous preview in the designer’s suite, we discover why Ahuja is so ebullient, as Mukherjee unpacks his creations — black sheer lehenga saris with tone-on-tone embroidery worn over mini-skirted petticoats, velvet blouses with antique gold collars, even exquisitely embroidered leather clogs.
Later, on a gleaming wood-finished ramp we see Mukherjee’s modern-day maharani emerge, wearing a black bandhgala sherwani with gold buttons and polki earrings. She dons a chamois satin sari with lace pleats and teams it with a Chanel-esque striped knit blouse, topped off with an emerald-centred diamond necklace.
Embroidered tone-on-tone black gowns, red fishtail skirts and ecru bandhgalas speak of quiet sophistication. Layering is key and every ensemble is a balancing act as glitter, gold, lace and velvet meet prints and quilting. Mukherjee’s men also don Nehru jackets, sherwanis and bandhgalas in tonal embroidery, quilting and floral prints with matching turbans. The colours are sophisticated as blacks, red and nudes mingle with gold, greens and whites.
And while Lakme’s winter/festive theme called for a degree of finery, the pared down pieces in the collection remind us of the Mukherjee of yore, who made us fall in love with hand-spun khadi and made prim bow blouses sexy. How about a pure prêt showcase next time, Mr Mukherjee?