A round-up of my design thoughts & favourites of the season.
I’d call it my breathing space, very different from other art galleries, in a city which could otherwise be for traditionalists. Experimenter in Kolkata & now with yet another addition of an unassuming gallery, almost extraneous in the city in the most positive way, is indeed my Mecca.
The newest offering ‘Drawn From Practice’ a collective which re-looks the basic foundational role of art was hugely provoking. There aren’t many things today which provoke me & this is something which was majorly needed for me to open up my senses wide.
I particularly spent most time glued to performing artist Padmini Chettur’s work ‘Beautiful Thing 1’, which show a deep relationship between planning, preparation & presentation of a performative practice. The blueprints or statistical plans, placed right next to the video of the performance was a brilliant path to trace the journey.
Sahil Naik & Bijoy Jain’s architecture inspired works experimented with material application & were majorly inspiring. The entire showcase was about witnessing installations & visual notes which move beyond the realms of known methods.
At Fatherland :
The new series Iridescent came out a time, when I was toying with the idea of doing a light-headed set, after a more extensive Fuzz. The rainbow(ish) details of Iridescent have nothing to do with 377, as when I was making it I didn’t even know the big news is coming up. But when it did come, it looked like a perfect time !
By now we’ve already been identified for unconventional saris. Iridescent has more to do with my love for huge fonts, a consistent purple khadi for the garments & which I loved pairing with my favourite accent the fishnet stockings, white ones this time.
My Kolkata workspace & home is a contrast to my Bangalore’s. I have covered my Bangalore studio before, down the scroll in this blog. The Kolkata space, which I recently touched up, is very stark & not packed with antiques like Bangalore’s, but the few pieces kept are indeed antiques ! Most are from the iconic Victor Brother’s which still stands today on the busy Park Street.
Look through the cups-saucers lampshade, the old carved teakwood almira, a bone china ashtray from 1851 J & G Meakin of England & so on.
Analog photographs by Moi in 35mm film.
July - September 2018
The Sky Is Pink
The photograph is a gift from Catrine Val, a German fine-art photographer. She shoots mostly self portraits, with a timer in her camera, as she did with this. She’s been showcasing at several galleries throughout the world. I was honoured she reached out to me, to photograph me, as one of her subjects for her new coffee table book, a series of portraits. It was lovely doing the shoot.
I re-discovered this gift recently, while coming across another sky of the sort. Shonali Bose, of Margarita With A Straw, just kickstarted the shoot of her new film The Sky Is Pink. It’s a film on Aisha Chaudhary, a girl who lived a life for just eighteen years, with a terminal disease. Her profound views on life saw her at motivational talks at international platforms like Tedx, INK & while in the deathbed she penned a book My Little Epiphanies.
Shonali’s abilities to see cues from people, who are no longer living in physical form, are exceptional & makes her work & life individualistic. Recently when I visited her at her Mumbai home, I got to know her a little more. Very much looking forward to the film, which is blessed with a cast of Priyanka Chopra, Farhan Akhtar etc.
And then there are more pink skies, of discarded beads & Bjork.
Lately Kevin Germanier of London found huge sackfulls of beads, which were thrown as discards & carried them home paying excess baggage. The way he re-purposed them fascinatingly made to Bjork's outfit for her newest Utopia.
Sustainable fashion didn't dwell here on handloom, khadi, organic cotton, or indigenous craft, but beyond that. Upcycling isn't something unheard, but this was upcycling inorganics.
As much as we loved Bjork's fresh look, individualistic as always, Germanier re-defined sustainable & his pieces are hugely sought after today, especially in Europe.
This was refreshing & liberating, sowing new seeds for other new thoughts for people like us, who love to see & embrace unconventional. The sky is pink & it’s all about individuality.
April - June 2018
Summer Mood Board
A round-up of my style favourites of the season.
Read ^ - ‘Leonora Carrington is so inspiring. I love her freedom, her humour & how her work invents it’s own laws. What specifically do I take from her? Her wig.’ - Bjork
In the very first edition of this book, ‘Debutante & Other Stories’ artist Leonora Carrington brings forth her imaginations, which gives an altogether new definition to surreal. Bizarre in extreme, where man & animals live & interact as a part of the same society, the stories have a different element of horror, yet liberates one from the savage realities of our days. And they are beautiful, enchanted, as there’s also a making peace with the world.
A quick look of the blurb tells what you can expect - ‘A debutante frees a hyena from the zoo so that it might take her place at her coming-out ball; a woman makes love to a boar underneath a mountain of cats; two noble sisters wonder whether anybody can be a person of quality if they wash away their ghosts with common sense.’
Getaway ^ - I’m just back from Rokeby Manor, a British heritage hotel built in 1840 at Landour, above Mussoorie. I always look out for heritage hotels, wherever I travel these days & this well restored gem is incredible.
The echoes of colonial officers, renegade soldiers of fortune & pious ‘Miss Sahibs’ who lived under one roof, can almost still be felt here today. Solitary walks with goodness of Himalayas, are something I always keep getting back to & this is in the highest altitude here, with the best proximity to the ranges. Plus some supremely good English vintage cakes from their patisserie, The Landour Bakehouse.
Style ^ - At Fatherland, the new visual is Indian, not just vintage but more correctly ancient, as the new series Rise Bird brought in. It imbibes the formations, colours & the textures of the weathered ceiling frescoes of a discreet Indian temple, I chanced visiting sometime back.
It took us months to get that look & feel on fabrics, as aged, antique & in the most masculine of the earth shades. A devised method of printing, which was neither mills nor screen nor block & with some trial & errors finally gave us a landing, which was exactly the way we wanted.
It’s a never-before look & feel we achieved, as aged. This is a series one has to see in real & not in photographs. A preview clip is on the Look Book section. The palette comprises of taupe, faded amber, nutmeg, rust, sandal, moss, ash & charcoal. Strictly no brights.
Sounds ^ - Two from my present playlist, one a classic & the other new-agey. To listen, copy paste the links on your web browser.
Quizás Quizás Quizás by Nat King Cole :
Highway Love by Powel, featuring Robert Wade :
November - December 2017
A Dekko Of Film Maker Shonali Bose's Mumbai Home
Film maker Shonali Bose divides her time between Los Angeles & Mumbai. Her last work Margarita With A Straw brought in an altogether new genre. Her new work in progress, an episodic under the prestigious banner of Paramount Pictures, is as international as she's always been. The film explores an interesting aspect of human psyche 'adapting with new money'. Once again it'll see a powerful cast, in her direction.
Shonali is a woman of great taste & it also reflects in her homes. Her Mumbai home is easy & tasteful, contained in a structure which is a heritage landmark, with a unique character. It instantly makes one feel relaxed, as it did to me, while we chatted endlessly for the day, over her home-made idlis & fantastic condiments.
Shonali has been a patron of Fatherland & there she is, gracing a Sabeki sari & a Lapierre gold foil blouse. And this was me photographing her & her home, impromptu. From heirloom saris converted to window blinds, to her son Ishan's art works & photographs, there are some of her favourite nooks & corners of the Mumbai home.
The Interview With Sanjna Kapoor
Giving new touches to my home is a great thing for me to unwind with. My Bangalore home & studio is packed with objects I hand picked from antique dealers, over a long time. From Victor Brothers in Kolkata, to haunts in Chettinad, to shops in London, my finds are from various.
It's been like re-living many pasts, no replica or print, only some real old things. If you visit Bangalore, do drop by. There are lots more to see than these photos & I'll take you through, in detail ! And try some real sweet black Jamuns from our local vendor !
Underground & Under The Radar
'Fashion is for the airheads. Its essentially for the dumb', told a Brit friend of mine, who is a movie reviewer. He visits India often & we travel around.
'I often hear people saying Wong Kar Wai films are fashion films or are high on fashion. This is the kind of statement which'll make me feel like throwing the DVD on the floor & stomping on it over & over', he says with an air of exasperation.
Then he looks up, to see an ad, from the billboards of a busy street & asks 'why do Indians try to ape what we do? I see these ads & there's this deliberate attempt by the stylists to make things look international & its funny. They have enough unique here, to make things great.'
What is one great thing in fashion now I need to take a bow at? Firstly Platform, the magazine. To me, each issue is a treat. There was this month recently, when Alia Bhatt was the cover of at least four big magazines, all at once for the same month. And there was the best styled Alia, in my eyes at Platform. Their approach & the sensibilities are the most 'artisanal' the best way the word can literally mean.
And this season it was so good to see Savio Jon's reprise. Although it doesn't need a fashion week for me to be a fan of his works, it was the highlight for me at this LFW. Even last year his Resort 16 was out of the world. With Lakshmi Menon & Sheetal Mallar photographing each other, that was the most powerful for me, beyond anything in fashion that happened last year.
In a world of fast fashion, is the need to slow down a bit? As Mickey Boardman aptly puts it, the looks from the runways are accessible with live streaming & Instagram, even before the show has ended. 'This kind of accessibility & exposure has caused problems to the life span of fashion for retailers, because by the time something comes to the stores, you have already seen it all over social media, every editor posts it...magazines shoot it & by the time it is published, you have already fallen in love & fallen out of love with it'.
A fashion insider & a close friend identified my space Fatherland as more of an underground label. She said people like it because it's underground. It's there but not out-there. That brings me to point where we need to keep certain things in a secret world, not everything displayed online. It's a bit tricky, as many of our overseas shoppers might not like that, or may be would like that more. A regular shopper from the US, who shopped truckloads with us last year, just made an appointment to visit our studio, three months in advance. She'd rather wait & shop that way, than to see all things online.
That also reminds me long long back, I used to hear the word 'exclusive' to best describe the refined. No second piece for a look. And that's where I come from, when I never get why celebrities should wear runway looks. They should wear only custom made pieces, at least with slight variations. I told this to Kalki recently, who got what I meant. And now I think why only celebrities, why should anyone at all wear runway looks?